It always gives me a giggle when people say something like, “Jesus was all about love.” And I think, ‘What Jesus are you talking about?’ Yes, one of Jesus’ characteristics, perhaps even His main characteristic was love, but He was seriously about fulfilling God’s plan for you and me. And come hell or high water, or the deaths of millions of people, that plan WILL be carried out to completion.
I’m in the middle of a series that entails one of my favourite passages of Scripture. John chapter 21. When I ended Part Two, Jesus had just said to Peter, “Feed My lambs.”
It was quite. Wishing he could just disappear under the sand, Peter didn’t know whether to stuff some more fish into his mouth or go clean nets when Jesus asked again, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me?”
‘Oh Crap! What is He doing?’ “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (again phileo) You.”
“Shepherd My sheep.”
Do you remember Jesus’ teaching about “the good shepherd”?
The good sheherd lays down his life for his sheep?
The good shepherd does not run away from danger.
The good shepherd confronts the danger head on.
The good shepherd’s thoughts are not about self but about the safety of his flock.
When put to the test, Peter ran, and now Jesus was telling him to take charge of keeping His flock safe from spiritual harm.
I think that I know Peter. A little bit any way. I’m impulsive, like him. I shoot my mouth off, like him. I jump to conclusions and I’m passionate and I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes, just like Peter. Just like Peter I love a good fight. Maybe you’ve noticed. I’ve never been challenged like Peter had on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion so I can’t say that I wouldn’t run away. Just like Peter, though, as long as I’m fighting something else, I don’t have to focus on myself. Sometimes, just like Peter, my lack of commitment comes as much of a surprise to me as it does to those who thought they knew me. Like the line goes, “I’m generally held in high regard by those who don’t know me very well.”
Jesus said to Peter the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (phileo) Me?”
Finally, Jesus came to Peter as Peter was. Just so, Jesus comes to us as we are.
Peter was grieved because Jesus, tender Jesus, Jesus who was all about love wouldn’t let this failure on Peter’s part die. “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” You know exactly the level and quality of my love. You know that I promise commitment but can’t keep it. You know that I’m prone to leave when the going gets tough. Lord, You know all things.
Jesus said, “Tend My sheep.”
Three denials on the part of Peter. Three invitations from Jesus to return to the fold. Here was Jesus, the One who knows all things, choosing, a naturally fallible human being to be in charge of His followers.
“But Lord,” replied Peter, “You know what I’m like. This is who I am. This is it. This is all I’ve got.” And Jesus said to Peter, as He says to us, “All of you is all I want.”
I can tell you from experience that playing the coward and avoiding Jesus' invitation is the worst mistake you'll ever make. There is nothing but good waiting for those who give their lives, all of their lives to Jesus. I'm not talking about fantically attending Church or doing and doing and doing religious "stuff." I'm talking about getting into a relationship with Jesus and getting in deep, getting in over your head. It is so worh it. The disciples showed that nothing, not hardship, not rejection by society, not even death by torture could outweigh the good that comes from a forgiven and healed relationship with our Creator. What are you waiting for? Just do it!