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And Jesus Said, “You Must Follow Me.”

June 5, 2013

Imagine yourself in a boat in the middle of a large lake or small sea and you have been fishing all night hoping to distract yourself from the loss of companionship of a person whom you loved. During times of grief and loss we often do things to distract ourselves from the pain and suffering. This not the message of this piece but it is part of the events leading up to, in my opinion one of the most emotionally charged meetings to take place between Jesus and Peter as documented by the disciple whom Jesus loved. (John 21)

When we look into the reflection of who we really are and see the depth of failures, it is a very humbling experience to say the least. Peter seeing his Savior, Lord and Friend standing on the shoreline having called to him, raced to His side. What Peter may have felt at that moment will never be truly understood because I believe that the messages and lessons are unique to each one of us and what resonates with one of us may not have any perceived value to another.

I see Peter sitting at the fire with his Lord, ecstatic about the opportunity and joyful in the knowledge that what He had said and promised was true. He had risen and now He turns to Peter and asks him if Peter loves Him more than these. Peter loves Jesus and he answers him telling him that he does. The words for love in the original Greek are different, Peter’s response is, as a friend loves a friend, Jesus asks Peter as if he loves Him as He had loved him. But still Jesus reply to Peter is to feed his lambs. These are the people that Jesus had paid the heavy price of redemption He was entrusting to Peter to nurture them by feeding them the Gospel.

Jesus then repeats his question exactly has he had the first time and Peter answer the same. Jesus then tells him to feed His sheep, instructing Peter to help those older and more mature in their faith. The final blow to Peter is the third time that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Jesus changes the word that he uses to echo the responses that He had received when He had asked Peter previously. Peter, I believe, now saw his reflection in the mirror that Jesus held for him. He had been asked three times, the number of times that he had denied his Lord and Savior. He had been asked if He would give everything for his Lord and Savior through his unconditional love and he had responded that he loved the Lord as a friend. At that point, Peter wept. I must admit that I find myself doing the very same thing each time I read these passages. Finally, Peter tells Jesus that He knows his heart and that he does love him unconditionally and unequivocally.

Jesus’ message to Peter is personal. There are others that are with them but the message goes to the core of Peter’s being. I find that Jesus has a way of doing that to those that let Him into their lives. After Peter has been shown that despite his sin and denial of the Lord and Savior he is still asked to feed the lambs.

Peter then is told how he will be imprisoned and die. It must have been a chilling situation to know that because of your faith that you will be called to give your life, and Jesus knew at that point that Peter was up for the task, for He would not have given him the job if he were not. It is then when Peter, as a human being, did something I think we all would have done. He looked around and seeing John, the disciple that Jesus loved, asked, “What about him?”

Jesus looks at him and says to him, “Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”“ (John 21:22 The Holy Bible – New International Version 2011) How simple is that command? Where are our daily thoughts and devotion to be? It is for Him that we live, for was His gift that gave us life. As we all endeavor to serve Him using the gifts that we have been blessed to receive we remember that our salvation was personal but it too is a gift that we must share. We cannot place the lamp under a basket and expect the room that we are standing to be brightly lit. These messages are selfish in one respect in that I write them to celebrate what had been given to me. It is my hope that they give you pause to celebrate the gifts that He has given you and that you remember you must follow Him.

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