"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

8 Verses, 3 Truths (John 21:15-23)

It is incredible how much I see of myself when I look at Simon Peter in John 21:15-23.  Over the course of 8 simple verses, and within one brief conversation, Peter is restored, commissioned and reminded that comparison to others is not part of God’s plan.  It is also in this passage that Peter reminds us all of his, and our, humanity.  Fortunately, Christ also shows us His divinity.

Peter is only days removed from his infamous series of denials, when he and the risen Lord come face to face.  He surely thought himself to be unworthy and possibly even unforgivable for having denied Christ so openly.  Jesus comes to him and simply asks, “Do you love me?”  To which Peter says of course I do.  But it wasn’t until the third attempt to get his attention, that Peter realizes the full shame of those denials and can receive forgiveness. For scripture tells us that “Peter was hurt.”  It is important for us to take note that Christ does not chastise Peter.  Rather, once Peter felt convicted and truly sorry for his actions, Christ practically says that all was good.  He was forgiven and he would be used for God’s glory.  (As a side observation, it also seems that the most important qualification we can have, when it comes to being of service, is to love Him.)

Next, Peter is commissioned.  In verse 17, Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”  Here Peter is commanded to share the good news.  To make full use of the restoration he was granted by providing hope and love to others.  I would think that Peter walked away from this conversation with the most determined approach at following Christ’s direction.  He had been restored from his previous failure and given another chance.  As believers, do we consider / appreciate the forgiveness that Christ provides in restoring us from our sin? And even more critical, do we consider / appreciate that regardless of that sin, Christ will forgive and put us to service.  He takes the unforgivable and forgives!

Finally, it is interesting how Peter’s humanity shows up in the final verses of this passage.  When faced with the foretelling of his own future suffering, Peter becomes concerned with one of the other disciples.  He basically asks why that disciple would not suffer as well.  Jesus says, (and I am paraphrasing this a bit), “That’s really none of your business.  I am talking to you and I want you to serve me!” How easy it is, even within our own church fellowship, to be overly concerned with those around us.  Why do others get the good jobs at church?  Why do I suffer when I do this or that, but he/she doesn’t do anything?  On and on.  Christ’s response to Peter should be a warning to many of us.  We should really try and “mind our own business” more and our service would likely become more fulfilling.

In Peter’s case we find evidence of a changed life and commitment to serving Christ.  In 1 Peter 5:14, you will find a more mature Peter offering guidance and counseling on feeding a flock and serving “not because you must, but because you are willing.”  It is fair to say that once the burden of guilt was removed, Peter was fully liberated and motivated to go about feeding His sheep.

May we all find restoration from even the most heinous of actions, heed our commissioning and mind our own business!  Have a great week.

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