Peter. Simon Peter. The Rock. The dreamer. The visionary. The all or nothing. The “go big or go home” disciple. Now sitting in a fishing boat, without a single fish caught. What next? Jesus had been crucified. Peter had failed. He betrayed the Man he has spent every day of the last three years with. The man who he had declared he would die alongside and be all in with. Yet, when push came to shove, in the moment of testing… He failed the test. I cannot imagine the shame and the guilt that he felt. The tears that flowed. The agony of looking into the eyes of Jesus.
Yet, Jesus’ response to Peter’s betrayal is different than what we would naturally expect. (He’s Jesus, go figure.:)
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
When I have been hurt by a friend, I naturally want to ask-
“Can I ever trust you again?”
“Will you do this to me again?”
“What were you thinking?”
“How could you? I thought we were too close for that.”
Yet, Jesus is other than us. He asks none of these questions to Peter.
He asks one simple question. “Do you love me?”
Service to Christ flows out of a heart in love with Christ. If we love Christ a lot of things will take care of itself. But I find myself, trying to give answers, reasons or proof to questions Jesus isn’t even asking. He is asking the simple question-
“Do you love me?”
“Are you going to church every Sunday?”
“Have you read your Bible today?.”
“Are you serving enough?”
“How many Bible verses do you have memorized?”
“How long have you gone without doing (fill in the blank)?”
“What’s your game plan for not sinning?”
He is simply asking if we love Him.
Truth is, I’m a lot more like Peter than I thought. I have big plans and dreams. I like to talk a big talk. Yet, often times when push comes to shove… I’d rather keep quiet and not identify with Christ. Doing so, means I’ll get push back or criticism. Often times, I want people to like me more than speak the Truth. After recognizing failure and sin, I think Jesus is asking a whole different set of questions than the simple question- Do you love me?
Do I? Do I really love Him? Is my heart consumed with Him? Does my soul thirst for Him? Do I love Jesus?
Out of that simple question comes a simple response. YES. Yet, that simple response holds weight of a calling. A calling of trust and obedience to Christ. Whatever the cost. In life and death. In joy and suffering. In pain and loss. Whatever may come. The answer is YES. Only because- He has loved me first.
Out of Peter’s brokenness he was able to minister. It wasn’t through triumphal conquering and cutting ears off that Peter knew he was called… It was through the almost giving up, broken dreams, lost hope, in his nothingness and failure… that he was able to see that Jesus’ mission for his life wasn’t over yet.
The same is true of us. It may very well be, the brokenness, the wilderness seasons, the moral failure, the depression, the betrayal and the heartache that we experience in this life- that God uses to bring us into the calling He has for us. Instead of hiding the scars and letting shame and condemnation have its way… may our brokenness be turned into a trophy of grace and redemption. It’s often those scars in our lives are the very things Jesus uses most in bringing glory to Himself.
Perhaps just weeks or months after Jesus and Peter were sitting around that fire, Peter is standing among his peers, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching Christ and Him crucified!
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” -Acts 4:8-13
Even in the midst of failure. May we love Him. Even in our failure may we walk into the calling He has set out for us. May we be a faithful- ever-loving Bride. Because it’s only because He first has loved us. And those He loves, He loves to the very end.
Happy Easter week!