Shame is one of the most painful emotions that we ever experience. It happens because sometimes others inflict shame on us and other times we do it to ourselves. Either way, it is difficult to get rid of the shame. I see people in my practice that bear shame from their childhood and have been lugging it around all their life. Some have gone through shameful divorces but have never healed. Still others have been hurt in a thousand different ways. The shame steals their joy and enthusiasm for life, and they live life without any hope. There is someone who can help change that, and his name is Jesus.
Jesus specialized in healing the heart and taking away the shame. He did it for Peter, the disciple who was so self-reliant. He assured Jesus that he would never abandon him. In fact, he would die for Jesus if necessary. Jesus, in an attempt to show Peter his presumption, told him that he would deny that he ever knew Jesus three times before the cock crowed (Luke 22:34). Peter was dumbfounded to hear that. He thought he would never do that.
When the arrest of Jesus occurred, Peter acted impulsively, cutting off a man’s ear. He no doubt was humiliated when Jesus told him to put the sword away. He helplessly watched as they took Jesus away in shackles. Peter kept his distance, but he followed Jesus. Though the interrogation of Jesus took place indoors, he stayed outside and waited. Then it happened; someone identified and accused him of being a follower of Christ. Then it happened twice more, and each time Peter vehemently denied that he knew Jesus. Then at that very moment, they led Jesus outside, and a rooster crowed, and Jesus’s eyes met Peter’s (Luke 22: 60-62). Jesus’ prophesy had come true just as Jesus said it would.
Peter’s pain was no doubt unbearable as he wept bitter tears of regret. His sense of shame and failure overwhelmed him, and he disappeared in hiding. What is amazing is the way Jesus, after his resurrection, sought Peter out and very gently and slowly healed Peter’s heart. There was a second part to the prophesy of Peter’s denial that is very encouraging: Jesus said that after he had failed, he would turn back and strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32).
In John chapter 21 Jesus met Peter and six other disciples after a night of fruitless labor on the sea. He told them to cast the net on the right side and you will catch fish. They did, and the haul was enormous. That triggered a memory for Peter because Jesus had done this once before. Jesus grilled fish and bread for them on a campfire and fed the hungry fishermen. He talked with Peter and asked him if he loved him more than anything. Peter said he did. Jesus asked him the same question three times, and Peter gave the same answer. Jesus told Peter to follow him and to feed his sheep.
Peter’s heart was healed, and the shame was taken away. Jesus, who knows how to bind up the broken hearted, can heal anyone’s broken heart. He can take that shame away and send you forth into a fruitful life and ministry as he did Peter. Trust him as Peter did.