The Apostle Peter had been Jesus’ “Right Hand Man” from the beginning of Christ’s ministry. The one renamed “the Rock.” At the Passover supper, the night before Jesus died, Peter said to him, “Even If everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33). Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me” (Matthew 26:34). But Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (Matthew 26:35).
Yet a few hours later, when confronted by Jesus’ enemies, Peter lied about even knowing Jesus—THREE times—then ran away and wept.
Have you ever felt you failed Jesus so badly that there was no way back to him? Peter did. He was in such despair, he couldn’t believe he would ever work for the Lord again. So in John 21, he left Jerusalem and went back to fishing. It appears, he considered himself unworthy to serve the one true God, our Savior.
What happened next is so beautiful and so like Jesus … and so like Peter, too. Jesus goes after his wayward child and asks, “Peter do you love me?” Jesus asks not once but three times. Why three times? As I researched this story, I learned that Peter answered the Lord with a different variation of the word love each time.
The first love was more like, “Of course I do. You’re my pal.” The second was like a brother, “Of course I do. You’re my bro.” It wasn’t until the third time that Peter was able to get past his shame of failure and blurt out the word for unconditional love, “YES! Completely!”
Jesus’ responses in turn? “Feed my lambs.” “Take care of my sheep.” Then the third time, “Feed my sheep.” It was then Peter realized he was no longer a fisherman but rather, as Jesus had promised, a fisher of men. Peter also realized he was never going to be “good enough,” and it didn’t matter because it was not about him.
Are you good enough to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world? You are if you have put down your pride and self-will and accepted God’s invitation to a meaningful and eternal life. This can happen if we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the only way to have a relationship with the Father and a life of great worth. You can’t earn it, and you can’t lose it—even when you spiritually fall on your face. Just like Peter did.
9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Why do you think you are here? Will your life really matter in the eternal scheme of things? How has your focus been affecting your life? For better or for worse?
Take your focus off the world, and turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing trials as the way for us to grow in our understanding of you and your relationship with us. I wish we could learn about and embrace your grace without the pain that comes from enduring trials, but our selfish sin nature makes those corrections inevitable as we stumble toward a closer walk with you. Thank you for caring so much that you allow them in order to grow us in our love for and service to you. Please give us the patience, insight, and determination to be your faithful servants all the days of our life, and throughout eternity. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.
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