THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” John 21:15-19 (NIV)
THOUGHTS FROM JOEY
Has someone close to you ever let you down – maybe a parent, a spouse, or a very dear friend? It hurts most to be wounded by those closest to you – those whom you most depend on. Then, if I’m honest with myself, I know that I have also wounded and disappointed the people who most love me. Worst of all, I know that I am guilty of failing the One who laid down His life for me!
Peter’s life was one of ups and downs. After boasting that he would never leave Jesus, he does just as Jesus predicts. He denies his master three times out of fear. I can so identify with Peter. When I was young my mother laid down a foundation of truth for me, and I was committed to following Jesus. Yet, as I got older, I chose fear and arrogance rather than trust in Christ. Ultimately, my repeated choices to follow my own way, rather than God’s way, earned me the hospitality of Oklahoma’s prison system.
After my father passed away, my older brothers fell into serious drug-addiction and became out of control. I remember telling my mother not to worry because I would never be like them. I would look after my younger sister and brother. However, I became even worse than my brothers. Like Peter, I operated in confidence of my flesh rather than humble reliance on Jesus. As a result, I failed those who loved me most!
After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and shared a meal with them. Jesus then turns to Peter. Peter was likely full of doubts concerning where he now stood with his Master. I suspect he feared Jesus might say something like, “Peter, why did you deny Me?” Yet our Lord is full of compassion; His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever! Rather than rebuking Peter, Jesus restored him. Jesus restored him three times, once for each of the three times Peter denied Jesus. Jesus removed Peter’s guilt!
Jesus asked Peter, “[D]o you truly love me more than these?” John 21:15 NIV. Jesus may have been referring to Peter’s prior boast that, even if all the other disciples deserted Jesus, Peter never would. See Mark 14:29 NLT. Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” John 21:15 NIV. However, this time, Peter offered NO boast about his level of commitment being superior to anybody else’s. Through his mistake, Peter learned humility, and he became honest about his spiritual condition.
There is truly good news! Like He did for Peter, Jesus wants to restore you. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has already paid the price for our actions. All we must do is recognize our own spiritual bankruptcy and utter dependence on the mercy of Jesus.
We are loved so dearly by the God of all creation that Jesus paid the price for our restoration. Our part is to believe and bet our lives on the mercy of Jesus. See John 4:24 NIV (“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”). Life through Jesus is the only life worth living!
As for me and my family, ALL my brothers and I have humbled ourselves, confessed our wrongs, asked for forgiveness, and allowed Jesus to restore us to a right standing before God. He will do the same for you as you are honest with God about your need for His strength and mercy.