“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 (NLT)
I have read this story so many times, but this time as I was reading this portion of scripture my heart was gripped and I could not seem to read past verse 17. Something began to stir in my spirit and I felt compelled to read verses 15-17 several times.
The Lord began to paint me a picture. Peter had just been through the biggest trial of his life. He had committed his life to Jesus and spent the last three years following Him. He was determined that he would follow Him, even unto death. But Jesus had warned Peter that he would end up denying him. (John 13:36-38)
Sure enough, Peter buckled under the pressure and denied following Jesus. I can only imagine the torment in Peter’s mind, I am sure he felt like a failure and unworthy to to be called a follower of Christ. His whole world was turned upside down. His Messiah had just been taken and He out of fear had denied Him, not just once but three times. Peter knew in his heart that he loved the Lord and probably didn’t even understand how or why he denied knowing Him.
Oh the tug of war…There he was a denier, yet he knew he had been chosen and called to follow and finish the work Jesus had started. Peter was called and commissioned to spread the gospel message to the world. It must have felt like He was facing a massive giant. There he was faced with a huge decision one that ultimately would effect the whole world and every generation to come. How do you overcome this kind of failure and mistake, how do you go from failure to follower and from a denyer to witness?
I believe Peter was processing and dealing with his failures and coming to terms with God’s grace. I guess you could say working through it….
I can so relate! Being one who has made mistakes and often failed, I have spent many hours, weeks, even months working through the guilt, shame and feelings of unworthiness.
There was Peter, at crossroads of decision. As he was working through it all, he decided to go back to what he knew, what he had done before and that was “fishing”. He wandered back to his comfort zone, I believe he was trying to escape the chaos. Oh how tempting it is to go back to what we know and we are comfortable with in the midst of crisis. Especially when we are facing the unknown. We find some sense of security doing the things we have always done and feel we are capable of doing in our own strength.
It’s very challenging to choose to follow the path of the Lord when it calls for total dependence on Him and we have no idea how it’s going to turn out. Even more difficult, doing it when you “feel” like a failure, unworthy and inadequate. Peter knew what Jesus had called him to do, but had to be thinking “how can I preach His message when I couldn’t even find the boldness and courage to admit I’m His follower.
So Jesus in his love, knowing Peter and all that he was dealing with, decides to intervene. Jesus showed up and prepared breakfast for them. As they sat there, Jesus began to ask Peter the question, “do you love me more than these”. Not just once but three times. Wow, talk about self evaluation and personal inventory.
I think today it is so easy to get distracted by “stuff” and “things”, like: Work, entertainment, pleasure, provision, pressures, responsibilities and even family. I also see that we as followers may be tempted to blend into society and be “politically correct” and socially acceptable.
Often I find myself distracted and not doing the things I know He desires for me to do. The fact is we are all called to be witnesses, to fulfill the great commission. That is “His great commission”, not our interpretation of it.
Just like Peter, sometimes I feel unworthy and I know I need to make the Lord a priority in my life and do as Jesus said to do. I need to be about my Father’s business and “feed His sheep”.
It’s as if the Lord was asking me the same question as He asked Peter, “do you love me more than these? Oh my…there I sat in self evaluation mode, coming to terms with the “things” I needed to let go of in order to follow Him and fulfill what He has commissioned me to do. Oh the crossroads of decision…
The enemy wants to stop us from following God’s path. We must remember that fear, failures, insecurity, doubt and worry are some of the biggest GIANTS we will ever face! But that’s where grace and mercy come in, He equips us for the call! Remember there is nothing impossible with God!