HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?
We are going to spend a little more time looking at how Jesus continued teaching his disciples after his resurrection. Last week we saw how Jesus dealt with Thomas’ unbelief and what that means to us today. In the verses we read this morning, Jesus is talking to Peter. If you remember, Peter was the most confident and outgoing of the disciples. Peter was the one that when Jesus stayed behind on the shore to pray, the disciples got in a boat to go to the other side of the lake. Peter and the disciples saw Jesus’ walking on the water and Peter boldly said, “Can I come out of the boat and walk with you?” Jesus said, “Yes, come on.” We all know what happened. Peter looked back at the disciples on the boat and with a little arrogance in his voice said, “Look at me, I am walking on water!” But then when he looked around and saw the waves and thought about what he was doing he again said, “I am walking on water. I cannot walk on water.” He then began to sink.
To Peter’s credit he was never lacking in confidence. When Jesus was sharing the Last Supper with the disciples, Jesus told them, “One of you will betray me.” Peter immediately said, “Not me. No, no, I will never betray you. I will die for you if need be.” Then came the ultimate humiliation for Peter when they were sitting around the table eating the Last Supper, Peter had said to Jesus, “I will always stand beside you, no matter what.” To which Jesus told Peter, “Before the sun rises tomorrow, you will deny me three times.” Of course, Peter again said, “Never, I would never do that!” Of course, we know what happened. Then when they all went out to the garden after the Passover meal and the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword and struck one of the soldiers at which Jesus scolded him. Clearly Peter did not realize this was part of the plan that Jesus was to be arrested, beaten and ultimately hung on a cross to die.
Peter was always in the middle of everything. To his credit, he always tried to do what he thought was the right thing. In John 18:15 -27, we see what Jesus had said about Peter came true. Before we look at what we read this morning, early on Jesus made one very important pronouncement. In Matthew 16, verse 18 Jesus said, “This is Peter or Petra (which means rock), upon this rock I will build my church.” In spite of all of Peter’s ups and downs, Jesus knew Peter was the disciple who would be key in getting the church going after Jesus’ ascension.
Now let us look at what we read this morning. Jesus and the disciples had just finished eating when Jesus turned to Peter and very deliberately asked, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” To which Peter answered, “You know I love you.” Jesus then said, “Feed my lambs.” Then a second time Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?” Again, Peter answered, “Lord you know that I love you.” This time Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Yet a third time Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And we see by now Peter’s feelings have been hurt by Jesus repeatedly questioning whether he loved Jesus. Peter said, “You know all things. You know that I love you.” To which Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus also made what was in fact a prediction of what would be in Peter’s future when he said, “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to do.” What Jesus was making reference to was the way Peter would die. Peter also would be crucified. After Jesus had said all these things to Peter, he said one more thing, “Follow me.”
Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him? I believe it was to cancel out the three times Peter had denied Jesus as he was being taken away to be crucified. As I was reading this, I tried to put myself in Peter’s place. The fact is while Peter knew he had messed up badly the night Jesus had been arrested by denying Jesus, he thought Jesus was taking things a bit too far. By the third time Jesus had asked if Peter loved him, Peter could not help himself acknowledging that Jesus is God. He said, “You know everything. You know I love you.”
Have you ever messed up before with your mom or dad, brother or sister, husband or wife, your boss or co-worker or even your children by saying you can count on me and then something happened and you did not do what you said you would do? Then some time later you are wanting to make up for your earlier mistake by really coming through and that person, in their own way, questions you. “Are you sure you are going to do it this time?” You, of course, are saying, “Yes, you can count on me.” Then they say again, “Are you sure? I will be counting on you.” You more emphatically say, “Yes I will do it.” One more time they say, “Are you sure?” By now you are disappointed and maybe a little mad at the constant question to the point you are about to say, “Fine! Do it yourself or get someone else.” Have you ever had something like this happen?
Jesus knew Peter realized what a terrible mistake he had made, but Jesus wanted Peter to get fired up, in a good way, convincing himself, I will never make that mistake again. Jesus, I will be there for you now and forever. What Jesus was doing with Peter reminds me a little bit of a hearing aid commercial that is on television. I do not know if you have seen it or not, but on this commercial, there is has a son saying to his father, “I love you dad.” The dad says, “What?” Again, the son says to the dad, “I said I love you.” To which the dad responds, “I heard you the first time. I just wanted to hear it again.” This is what Jesus was doing with Peter. He not only wanted to hear Peter say it to him, Jesus also wanted Peter to hear himself say it repeatedly.
When we make mistakes with loved ones or co-workers, sometimes it takes a while before we will be trusted again. We have to show them over and over again we can be trusted. The Lord realizes we will make mistakes, commit sins from time to time. God does not expect perfection. God simply wants honesty. God wants us to not only be honest with him, but we also need to be honest with ourselves. With Peter, Jesus was preparing him for what was about to happen. Again, Peter was going to be possibly the most important person in the early Church. After each response Peter gave to Jesus, Jesus said first, “Feed my lambs.” Then, “Take care of my sheep.” Finally, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus is letting Peter know there is a world waiting for the message you are going to share. I trust you to accomplish what I am calling you to do. Jesus is saying the same thing to you and me today. He knows we will make mistakes and sin. However, what we are called to do is own up to those sins and learn from them. We are now the ones to keep God’s message of love, mercy, grace and salvation alive. Our message title is, “How would we feel?” When we mess up, whether it is with a person or the Holy Spirit that reminds us of that sin, how do we react? None of us like to be scolded, but when we do deserve it, do we learn from our sin or do we try to say, “It wasn’t that bad.” God can and will use us if we are willing to take our medicine and learn. What would you or I do? Maybe more accurately, what have we done? God loves us just like he loved Peter and did not give up on him. Thank God He never gives up on us.
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Executive Committee decided that as long as we are in our seats and socially distanced in the sanctuary, we may remove our masks, if we are comfortable doing so. If we get up or want to sing with the hymns, masks must go back on. We are grateful for the care everyone has taken to help prevent the spread of the virus.
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