Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:4. Jesus came to demonstrate to His disciples, and to all of us, the love and forgiveness of our heavenly Father. He wanted to show us that God does not condemn us—that’s the work of the enemy. He wanted to show that God is constantly working in every possible way to get as many people to accept His love as He possibly can. His loving kindness leads us to repentance, as it did in the experience of Peter.

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He said, “Oh, no. No, I’m not. I’m not, either.” And they said, “Yes, you are.” Finally, he began to curse and swear and to deny that he ever knew Jesus. Right in the middle of his cursing and swearing, he looked across the way and saw Jesus looking at him. In that look was no anger or resentment or hurt feelings. There was a look of pity, of sorrow. As Peter looked upon the face of Jesus, a flood of memories began to come back. He saw himself by the sea when Jesus called him to follow Him. Again he saw himself in the hassle over the Temple authorities and tax coins, and Jesus went to his aid and got him out of the jam. Once more he saw himself out in the sea. Jesus is reaching down and pulling him up out of the angry waters. And again, just a few hours earlier—he could still see it—walking in the Garden with Jesus, and He had said, “Peter, Satan is determined to have you, but I’ve prayed for you. I’ve prayed for you.” And all these memories came flooding in. Peter was transfixed on the spot. Suddenly, as he stood there, he saw another hand raised to slap Jesus, and he realized that that was the same as his hand, and that he had dealt the hardest blow to the heart of Jesus that night. Blindly he turned from the fire and rushed out of the courtyard gate, out of the city, across the brook, into the Garden. There he groped around in the darkness until he found the place where Jesus had been praying. He fell on his face and wished he could die. He was really sorry. He had broken the heart of his best Friend. Peter’s was real repentance.

Lilya Wagner
Dr. Lilya Wagner is Director of Philanthropic Service for Institutions and is on the faculty of the School of Philanthropy at Indiana as well as St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. Previously Lilya was Vice President for Philanthropy at Counterpart International in Washington, D.C., an international development organization. During 14 years of association with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University she served as associate director of The Fund Raising School and director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. She is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter in North America and also internationally. Her published writings include articles and book chapters on philanthropy, fundraising and the nonprofit sector.