The story of Peter’s denial and restoration is given a significant place in the biblical narrative. It presents for us the forgiving nature of Jesus, even after being blatantly betrayed by a friend, and provides an example on how we are to relate to and forgive our own disciples. We are even allowed to witness an intimate interchange between Jesus and Peter after his denial. (John 21:15-19)
Disciple making is a love relationship between a discipler and his disciple. Intimacy is formed between individuals by a familiarity with the deepest nature of one another. Your disciple’s failure is an opportunity to bind your hearts together because it reveals his heart to you and your response to his failure reveals your heart to him.
In some cases the failure could have happened years ago, but his sharing of that failure with you is a significant event and should be handled carefully. Shame has a long powerful grip; therefore it is important that you respond with tenderness, forgiveness, and affection. He probably has had a hard time believing that he is forgiven by God or others and an even more difficult time forgiving himself.
I am able to forgive others not only because God has forgiven me through the death of Jesus, but because Jesus has paid for the sins of others that were committed against me. (Jesus has paid the punishment for all your disciple’s sins, even the sins against you.) John writes:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)
The height of hypocrisy is to expect God and others to forgive me while I refuse to forgive others or myself.