authority, betrayal, broken people, called, compassion, disciples, forgiveness, Jesus Christ, Peter, restoration, Simon Peter, transformation

Jesus Restores, #109

15 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time,” 

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.'”

John 21:15-17, (context vv. 15-19)

Peter’s denial was public one, and it was important that his restoration be public as well. It may come as a shock, but Peter needed to do this–even though it was a grief to him (verse 17.) It was necessary for him to heal. It was also a clear testimony to the others that Peter was completely restored.

Repeatedly in this passage, love gets linked to service. (Can you see this, it’s important that you do.) The Lord asks Peter if he really loved him, and most likely it was solemn affair, not something trivial or casual. The word used is ἀγαπάω, agape–this is the type of love that God has for people. It’s a love that gives 110%.

The third time the word for love is different though, the word used is φιλέω, philo–this is a type of love that a man has for others, a brotherly kind of love. Something good, but less than agape.

And each time Peter responds, he uses the brotherly type of love. I don’t mean to be confusing here, but every time Jesus uses agape to Peter, Peter responds with philo. It’s as if Peter is struggling with loving Jesus wholeheartedly. Perhaps Peter was ashamed of his denial.

Love is linked with service.

Love can’t be seen unless it has a physical aspect. Love can’t be abstract, a vague feeling, or a hazy concept–it has to be seen by others. Jesus’ sheep (and lambs) must be fed, and watched over. This is now Peter’s call to ministry.

This is Jesus’ ministry as well.

Apparently there is plenty of this kind of work to go around! Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ work in Isa. 40:11. This is now becomes Peter’s work as well.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”

Whether or not Peter was the first “pope” is debatable. But it’s clear that Jesus focused on Peter. And isn’t it just like him to turn our failings into victories. Peter’s denial was now his ministry to others. It dealt with the pride issue, which often disrupts true ministry to his flock.

“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Jeremiah 3:15

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authority, bread, disciples, faith, fishing, Jesus Christ, John, love, miracles, Peter, work

It’s the Lord, #108

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” 

“So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” 

John 21:4-7 (context, vv. 3-8)

Perhaps this is the way Jesus comes to us. Every time he comes to the 12, it’s unexpectedly. Three times he visits them, and he never comes with a rebuke, or a harsh word of correction. In my mind at least, I certainly wouldn’t have let them off-the-hook that easy. I would’ve pounced on them.

They’re out fishing, following Peter’s decision. Peter again is blowing it. And Jesus, rather than a word of correction, shouts to them that they need to cast their net to the other side of their boat. He tells them, if they do that, they’ll catch more than they can handle.

This has come before, when they were first called to follow. It’s appropriate that what happened at the beginning, has now occurred at the end. Later, when they counted fish, they had a 153. And the nets, had not been torn.

John is the first to recognize Jesus, but Peter will be the first to the shore.

Peter instantly knows that this man is Jesus. He strips down to his underwear and jumps in. He must be with Jesus, the others are pulling in the net, and the boat is moving too slow. (Maybe Peter thought he would walk on water a second time?)

“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

John 21:9-10

The passage points out that they worked till morning, and they probably were hungry. The Lord is aware, and he’s built a campfire for them. It’ll be fried fish and bread for breakfast.

There’s a sensitivity here, and a proactive kind of love that is really concerned about others. He’s aware of what others might need, and he finds a way to serve them. That’s precisely the way love works. (1 Cor. 13.)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

The resurrected Jesus is still the humble servant. The disciples could’ve fallen on their faces, and that would’ve been entirely appropriate. This after all, is the risen Savior of the world. Perhaps Jesus is more approachable than we think? Perhaps?

 “They ate the bread and fish that morning, I doubt not, in silent self- humiliation. Peter looked with tears in his eyes at that fire of coals, remembering how he stood and warmed himself when he denied his Master. Thomas stood there, wondering that he should have dared to ask such proofs of a fact most clear. All of them felt that they could shrink into nothing in his divine presence, since they had behaved so ill.”

C.H. Spurgeon

Oh, how he loves you.

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betrayal, broken people, decision, hypocrisy, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, Peter, Simon Peter, transformation

Speaking His Language, #99

Peter Warms Himself

“The girl asked Peter, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?”

“No,” he said, “I am not!”

“The police and the household servants were standing around a fire they had made, for it was cold. And Peter stood there with them, warming himself.”

John 18:17-18, Living Bible

The Galileans had a distinct accent. Just as we easily identify someone from Boston just by the tone and cadence of their speech, Peter had that distinct drawl that told everyone that he came from that same province as Jesus. It was something he couldn’t hide.

Peter was a very different man in his three years of being with Jesus. And you might say that had transformed him–you might even say that he was now a marked man, the enemy was now quite aware of him. He was no longer a captain of a small fishing boat looking for a catch. He was now the leader of Jesus’ disciples.

The entire text (18:15-18) reveals a confrontation that Peter had with a servant girl, and we hear him making a bold-faced lie. At this very moment Peter was fulfilling the “promise” that Jesus had predicted (Matthew 26:31-32).

What was going through Peter’s head at that moment? She was a simple servant girl, perhaps one who ministered at the gate of the high priest’s home. It’s interesting that she is the first one to question Peter’s duplicity. Most likely she was just doing her job, watching and listening. She was probably quite alert.

It’s easy to point our finger at Peter. He was a coward, and when he was put on the spot he bailed. People hate cowards–we extol those who take a definite stand against evil. But he was frightened, scared of being connected with Jesus–the man on trial. There was much at stake here.

We also speak with an accent. I know it might be a stretch–but being with Jesus has fundamentally changed us. Our lives now have a specific dialect that others hear, we’re not the same people that we once were.

We open our mouths and others hear the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes I try to pretend that I haven’t been with Jesus, and I’m very ashamed of that. Like Peter, I stand with the others and choose to warm myself by their fire, and I try very hard to make myself inconspicuous. But all I have to do is open my mouth, and I betray who I really am.

It’s really funny, but even servant girls know that I belong to him.

“To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change.”

Richard Foster

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betrayal, compassion, death, decision, disciples, Jesus Christ, offense, Peter, satan, Simon Peter, unbelief

The Rooster of God, #94

 “Lord,” Peter asked, “Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.

38 Jesus replied, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly I tell you, a rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.”

John 13:37-38, CSV

He knew. And he still loved him anyway. Can you really quantify the depth of this? Verse 37 claimed Peter’s willingness to follow, and even die if he had to. I believe with all my heart that Peter was sincere. He would follow, and Peter was willing to die.

But Jesus bought none of it, he knew. He poses a question to Peter–the type of question that penetrated Peter’s interior bravado. It’s said that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Perhaps this is true here. Maybe Jesus knew?

What about you? And me? Does he really know us to this degree and depth? When he looks at us, I believe he knows the weakness and faltering steps we take, and yet his love for us is unconditional. It doesn’t hinge on our misplaced zeal or faltering commitment. His love for us overrides our weakness. That comforts and disturbs me, and I don’t really understand how he does it.

Have you heard the rooster? Maybe that’s his way to teach us the depths of his love.

“God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”

    C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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Night is Coming, #69

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 9:4-5, (context, vv. 1-12)

Jesus now understands that his earthly ministry is ending. He’s been working a long, hard day, and night is quickly coming. He has been doing what the Father has asked him to do on planet earth–but the work has its limits. The most challenging act of obedience will soon be upon him. Can he endure the shame? Will he really go to the cross–for us?

When he really resides within us, he will glow like a light-stick does in the dark.

It’s starting to get dark, the night is creeping in, and it’s getting to the point where one can’t see to do his work. It seems there are certain limits, one does what he can, as long as he can. Jesus understands this–but there are certain restrictions that must be considered. He will only do what the Father has laid out for him. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Jesus says he is “the light of the world, and I believe him. Oh yes, the darkness is still there–sin, selfishness and pride continue their ugly work. But there’s someone who illuminates everyone around him. When he’s present, he glows like one of those light-sticks.

Peter and two others once saw Jesus catch on fire up on the mountain top, and that’s what his whole ministry was like. When he arrives we can really see–and when he has worked out his earthly ministry, he has done his job.

The most astonishing thing is that he has made believers light, a city on a hill which can’t be hidden, (Matthew 5:14). He does it, not us–never us. It seems that the closer we get to him, the more we’ll shine. And Jesus shows us how to do ministry, in its truest sense.

“If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes.”

John 10:37, the Message

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Jupiter vs. Jesus, #54

Jupiter, Creator: Hulton Archive | Credit: Getty Images

“However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Matthew 17:25 (context vv. 24-27)

Jupiter was the king of the gods in the Roman empire; it was believed that he ruled the sky and thunder, he made the rain to fall. His temple in Rome was built on the highest hill (naturally) in 294 B.C. He was the head honcho of the Roman pantheon, and his cult following could be somewhat fanatical.

A tax was collected from Israel to support his temple, which caused hard issues among the Jewish leaders. They obviously didn’t want to support Jupiter, “no ifs, ands, or buts.” Not only were there spiritual reasons, but they had real patriotic issues too. Rome could be pretty insistent though.

Not completely sure about this. But apparently rabbis and priests were exempt from paying this. This is the setting for “Jesus-Peter-and-the-fish” in Matthew 17. Everyone’s eyes were now on Jesus: “Would He pay the tax, or not?”

Jesus specifically uses the word, “skandelion” for offense. We should know that this is the root word for scandal, or scandalize. That might bring us much needed clarity.

Jesus didn’t seem to bat an eye. There doesn’t seem to be any hesitation. Peter is dispatched to go catch a fish, the very first one, and when he reels it in he’s going to find in it’s mouth a coin, a drachma–that coin will pay the tax. This is a miracle, albeit a strange one.

Why? In the light of the spiritual implications did Jesus, and Peter, find themselves “indirectly” supporting Jupiter’s temple in Rome? Wouldn’t taking a stand against this religious cult be loyalty to God and declare a commitment to the nation of Israel?

Was Jesus ‘selling out’ and compromising His faith?

There’re lot’s of things we should say. First, how do we look at our government and its evil issues? How do we determine the steps we should take to be holy and separate from the world and its anti-christ system? What about the Old Testament stance of Daniel, or “the three Hebrew children” warming themselves in the king’s furnace?

I have lots of questions.

“Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior.”

-C.S. Lewis

   

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authority, called, disciples, faith, Father God, fear, Jesus Christ, Peter, voice of God

The Voice, #51

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 

Matthew 17:5, (context, vv. 1-8)

Sometimes God uses a megaphone. At least whenever I read this account I always have that impression. Perhaps, like these three disciples, we are being led into these situations were the voice of God becomes extremely audible. When we do hear Him it occasionally freaks us out.

The disciples collided with God’s glory and it altered them permanently. Peter recalled these many years later in 2 Peter 1:17-18–

“…when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.”

Peter remembers the voice. At the end of his life that is what amazed him–Peter couldn’t forget, it was something he couldn’t shake. He had seen astonishing things that afternoon, profound things; but at the end he recalls that voice. When we read this, we realize that it wasn’t the visuals so much as it that voice that terrified the three of them.

*****

“Rise, and have no fear.”

Matthew 17:7

Peter is not penalized for his distressing behavior on the mountain. I’ve read this passage over the years, and every time (without fail) I’m totally embarrassed by Peter. He is completely out of mesh here–he acts like clown. He hasn’t a clue.

When the three hear the voice they fold–they are terrified to the point of collapse. The Greek word is “phobos,” the root of our word phobia. This is intense, knee-shaking, face-falling fear. (“Loose bowels” is just slightly more intense.)

Jesus steps right into this situation. He understands completely. He may have even smiled? He reaches to His own and lifts them up. “Don’t be afraid anymore” can be very comforting to hear, especially coming Jesus.

“The Bible is God’s voice, in print.”

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Peter and Satan, #50

“He turned and said to Peter, 

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Matthew 16:23, (context, vv. 21-23)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Peter had the honor of announcing the identity of the Messiah– but suddenly he’s being called– “Satan!” (The capital S always interests me.) Peter is often seen as a bit hasty and impulsive, and this is evidence. As a follower of Jesus I can be in complete confusion of the ways of the Kingdom.

Devilish. Hindrance.

I regard Peter cautiously here. In my clearer moments, I realize I’ve got a disturbingly awkward resemblance to Peter. It disturbs me some–I know the possibility exists of me acting this foolishly, and I’m somewhat ashamed.

In my honest moments, (somewhat less often than I think) I realize that I fluctuate an awful lot–I have made some real goofy bone-headed responses to things, and at times they bordered on the satanic. Maybe they were? That disturbs and frightens me. I get a bit Peter-ish.

We are rebuked, but never ever forsaken.

I’m somewhat astonished that Jesus didn’t give up on Peter here. Maybe Peter just wasn’t getting it, maybe he wasn’t discipleship material. Why was he so out of touch with the ways of the Kingdom?

To be the first disciple to announce the true Messiah’s identity to everyone, and then plummet to becoming the Prince of darkness was pretty extreme. It would undo most. Trying to understand, trying to respond. Many would’ve just quit. Not Peter, not for the grace of our great God.

Thank you Jesus for not rejecting me.

“The things of man” is a key thought I think. It describes the entire idea of what humanity does. It seems our way of doing things is in direct opposition to the ways of God. Our ways are not His ways. The KJV puts an odd culinary spin on it with it choice of words:

“For thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Maybe having a t-bone steak on the grill kind of hunger for the ways of God is needed? Perhaps the real issue is one of spiritual appetite. Repeatedly Jesus uses the teaching image of the feast. “A hunger and thirst for righteousness” kind of faith, (Matt. 5:4.)

“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”

-C.S. Lewis

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authority, crowds, decision, discernment, disciples, faith, lordship, Peter, Simon Peter

Who Do You Think I Am? #48

“Who do the crowds say I am?”

“But who do you say that I am?”

Luke 9:18, 20 (context, vv. 18-20)

The question is significant; and it’s never been fully answered. Perhaps each of us must be asked this exact same thing. And perhaps it’s the crucial question that every human being who has ever drawn breath must ask themselves. Who is Jesus? Who is He really?

The crowds had witnessed Jesus feed them with a little boy’s lunch. They saw miracles and heard teaching, and yet maybe they were a bit confused. They could only put Jesus in the context of what they knew was “allowable” by the Pharisees. He definitely was some kind of prophet. Jesus was being evaluated by a very curious crowd.

Jesus isn’t distressed by this, He’s not full of self-doubt or second thoughts. He’s not looking around for our support–or accolades, palms or laurels. He knows exactly who He is. He is the only Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He is fully and completely God; and He is now wearing a robe and walking around in sandals.

There exists a “crowd faith,” something more or less aware that God cares, and miracles do happen in this life. This is all well and good. But it seems there is a “personal faith,” which Peter now announces out loud. “You’re the Messiah, come from God.”

What Peter declares in front of everyone changes everything.

We must always draw our own conclusions, of course. We must look at Him, and decide for ourselves what He claims to be. There is no question it’s scary, and it’s hard. But you, and you alone, must decide. Crowd faith is almost always good, I suppose; but Peter’s bold declaration is what He really is waiting for. Are you convinced yet?

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Water, Like Concrete, #43

27 “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 

“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

Matthew 14:27-29, (context, vv. 22-33) 

Jesus is full of surprises! You can never guess the things He will do next. He is Lord after all. To walk on water is totally impossible. But Jesus does it. He walks on it as if it were a concrete sidewalk. He totally scares His disciples sitting in the boat. When they see Him they freak out. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

Jesus wants to reveal to His disciples His true nature. They had just seen Him multiply fish and loaves, He fed five thousand plus just a few hours ago. Wasn’t that a miracle enough? It seems that Jesus doesn’t think so. We now see Him strolling on the water like it was solid ground.

For some inexplicable reason, Peter wants to insert himself into Jesus’ miracle. Oddly, he has decided he’ll join Jesus, and leave behind the security of the boat–for the insecurity of the impossible! He truly believes that Jesus can hold him up somehow. Perhaps this alone is the most amazing part of this passage. Can a man duplicate the walk of Jesus? Can we walk like Him?

Peter really wants to leave the security of the boat, for the insecurity of the impossible.

It seems to me that we’re constantly doing the “Peter thing.” It’s true our walk of faith really is intensely supernatural, and yet we somehow forget this. Face it, we will never generate the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” on our own. Our most sincere effort simply will never turn water into something solid. We will never walk the disciple’s path without a faith in the Master who calls us to come to Him.

I think Jesus wants us to join Him. Our faith in Him is the key. We believe that we can walk with Him, we believe we will see the impossible. Without question it’s Jesus’ power that holds us up. Our faith in Him is the ignition point in all of this. Our mustard seed faith, combined with Jesus’ power. becomes the true walk of the disciple.

We must bravely launch ourselves into the purposes of God. To merely sit in the boat is hardly faith. When Peter steps over the gunwales, he steps into the world of the amazing. The water holds him, and his trust in Jesus solidifies like the water he walks on. He is now doing the impossible. He is now becoming very much like Jesus.

Our walk seems terribly weak at times, we can easily list our sin and weaknesses, our spiritual ugliness. We’re not quite convinced that the blood of Jesus covers all our sin–and we can’t step out of the boat. I think it’s Peter’s faith in Jesus’ power that holds him up. When his faith falters, he does the “rock thing,” There is something about his circumstances–the wind, and the waves that begin to frighten him. (But I must believe Jesus was pleased.)

Just let him sink, and teach the 11 who sit in the boat about the perils of unbelief? Nope.

Fear trumps faith. Adversity always frightens. We sink when our flawed faith can no longer hold us up. The amazing thing though, Jesus doesn’t change His mind or heart, He is still in the business of doing miracles. He calls His disciples to believe in Him–to have faith in His power. To really understand, to step out in faith, and to see miracles happen.

“Christ will always accept the faith the puts its trust in Him.”

-Andrew Murray

   

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