The Lesson Peter Never Forgot
Part 3 continued from October 14th
Every part of Christ's three questions is so full of meaning.
First Jesus reverts to the old name and reminds Peter that he is acting like what he used to be. “Simon” was the names of the person Jesus changed into Peter (John 1.42); and Simon was the way Jesus warned Peter of his coming temptation (Luke 22.31) after
'These’ may mean the other disciples but probably meant more than these fish, more than your old career, more than doing what you want to do, to which Peter responds that he admire Jesus as a friend.
Jesus responds to Peter’s honest, contrite admission of his failure with a renewal of Peter’s call. Just like in Mark 1:16-20 when Peter was recruited right here at this lake; and just like in Luke 5:1-8 when Peter was re-commissioned right here at this lake; so this third time at this same lake Jesus restores Peter, “I want you to be my servant and serve my church”.
A second time the question comes to Peter, piercing and wounding him as he remembers his three denials. But Jesus drops the “more than these” so Peter can focus on just his heart. The question for Peter is also for all of us, do we really love Jesus. We may serve, we may speak, and we may study—but without love, it amounts to nothing.
Jesus would later warn the Ephesian church that they had perfected the defense of the faith but at the loss of love, and thus they amounted to nothing. Without love there is no real life; we are lifeless speaking and serving mannequins without being motivated and controlled by a deep and abiding love for Christ in all that we do. Jesus says if you err, err on the side of loving too much—not too little.
Again Peter answer signals his humble confession that he has failed but wants a chance. Jesus repeats the same high ministry calling—minister to my flock.
Jesus here reminds Peter that only those who love Him deeply can serve Him properly. Ministering to Christ's flock, His church is a work so consuming, where appreciation is often so minimal, where criticism is often so harsh, where spiritual warfare is often so fierce, and results are often so scarce—that only those “constrained by Christ's love” (II Corinthians 5) can do the work of the ministry!
The third time Jesus questions Peter’s loyalty He uses Peter’s word phileo and says, “Peter are we friends?” To which the crushed disciples says, “Lord you know that I am your friend”. And again the highest calling is offered by Jesus to Peter. That calling is to serve Christ's church.
The repeated command to ministry was a strong signal to Peter that Jesus wanted him, weak and failed, flawed and uncertain—Peter was still called. Peter made it through the spiritual surgery. Jesus loved him whether he was perfect or imperfect, Jesus loved him whether he was bold or fearful; Jesus loved him, liked him, called him and would again use him. There was nothing Peter could do or not do that changed Christ's love.
Have you ever come to that place where you stop performing for Jesus and just get honest like Peter? Telling Jesus, “you know I am flawed, I’m weak and often sinful—but I want to be your friend; but I am afraid to even say that I love you with self-sacrificing love?” Jesus knows that; He loves us while we sin, before we sin, after we sin. He never changes, but we must.
Peter repented on that shore. He repented of trying to be perfect and perform well enough to earn Christ's love. He found Christ's love was secure even when he was not.
Have you ever stopped thinking that what you do externally for Christ makes you any more pleasing to Him? It is in His unchanging love that we rest. Peter did so to the end of his life.
LEARN THE LESSONS PETER NEVER FORGOT
Each one of us at some point in our lives, will miserably fail the Lord by yielding to some temptation and sin. Soon after that sin we will hear (in one way or another) “the crowing of the cock.”
At that instant the accusing voice of Satan will ring in our minds, telling us that we are finished, we are useless, pleasing God is hopeless, and our future has been destroyed.
But that is never God’s message to us. As Peter learned, so we need to know. Our God is a forgiving God, a compassionate God, a God who loves us no matter what we have done.
Every time we open to the Gospel by Mark we remember that in one way or another, all of us too have stumbled. And for each of us, Peter’s triumph by God's grace is an incredible source of encouragement to trust in our God of the new beginning!
Peter was in it now for the long haul, and he never turned back. One of the earliest accounts of Peter’s death is by Eusebius who wrote a book entitled Ecclesiastical History. There he states that Peter was forced to first watch his own wife’s crucifixion and then as his time came he asked to be crucified upside down because of his unworthiness to die as Jesus died. Whatever may have happened at his death, one thing is certain—Peter loved Jesus Christ his Lord with all of his heart!
Jesus wanted Peter to know He has chosen the timing and the manner of our death (vv. 18-19). John 21:18-19 “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
Jesus reminds Peter that we look forward to His Coming—not death! (vv. 20-24). John 21:20-24 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
When Peter asks about John it was the old Peter resurfacing, curious and controlling. Christ's answer was so clear—God’s plan for each of us is unique and personal obedience is the key. We are not to be walking looking over our shoulders at others but as the writer of Hebrews says, we run with our eyes fixed on Jesus and not others!
I just love the note about John never dying; it is comforting to know that people garbled and gossiped even back then just like they still do. Other people may misunderstand God’s message and misinterpret what you are to do, but God wants each of us to follow Him with all of our heart and let His love cover our multitude of sins!
- Water and wine (2.1-11): Jesus controls quality; nothing in my life needs to stay empty.
- Nobleman’s son (4.46-54): Jesus controls distance; nothing is out of His range.
- Invalid healed (5.1-9): Jesus controls time; nothing is too far gone.
- Feeding 5000 (6.1-14): Jesus controls resources; no quantity impedes Him.
- Walking on water (6.16-21): Jesus controls nature; no force is too great for Him.
- Sight to blind man (9.1-7): Jesus controls misfortunes; no disability stymies Him.
- Lazarus raised (11): Jesus controls destiny; not even death defeats Him.
This message will continue tomorrow October 16th when we will look at the “Summary/Appendix”.
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