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Posts Tagged ‘John 21’

This morning, as I read from Luke’s Gospel, I was bowled over yet again by the amazing grace and patience of Jesus.  He is sitting at the table with his disciples and they have just celebrated the Last Supper together, when a dispute apparently occurs as to which of them should be considered the greatest.  Jesus cuts through all their arguing and tells them that is not to be their attitude.  Instead they are to serve, just as he served them.  But then he goes on to address Simon Peter in particular:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  (Luke 22:31-32)

What an amazing glimpse into Jesus’ heart for Simon Peter and for us!  Jesus, the Son of God, out of love and concern for this man, puts time and effort into praying for him, that his faith will remain firm.  All this, despite knowing Peter will in fact deny him soon after, as the following verses show.  Jesus obviously loves and believes enough in this passionate disciple of his to forgive, even ahead of time, the hurt and pain of Peter’s denial, so soon after asserting he would be prepared to experience prison and death for Jesus’ sake.  But what’s more, Jesus actively prays in faith that he will repent and return to being the passionate disciple and leader Jesus knows he can be.  Jesus says ‘when you have turned back’, not ‘if you turn back’.  And he also shows his complete trust in Peter’s future willingness and ability to strengthen his ‘brothers’.

How incredibly humbling it must have been for Simon Peter to hear that Jesus, the Son of God, was praying for him!  How incredibly humbling it is for me to sit here today and realise that even now, according to Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in heaven, still pleading for me and for each one of us.  However much we have fallen short of the person he wants us to be, however much we have ignored or denied him, he still reaches out to us in love, reminding us that he died for us, that we belong to him, that we can step up yet again and encourage others, as we rely on his strength.

In John 21, we see how Jesus, after his resurrection, meets Simon Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and reinstates him.  He asks him the pointed question three times: ‘Do you love me?’, and three times Simon Peter strongly affirms he does.  May this be our hearts today.  May each one of us realise afresh today that Jesus is ‘for’us, that he loves and believes in us and that he longs for us to remain firm, just as he did as he prayed for Peter.

And may we too extend this same amazing grace and patience to others, knowing we would not be where we are except for Jesus, who pleads even now on our behalf.

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There’s something heart warming about Peter, I reckon.  Of all Jesus’ followers, he seems to be the one most prepared to stick his neck out and have a go, whether by word or action.

In the story of how Jesus walked on water in Chapter 14 of Matthew’s Gospel, we read that the disciples were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.  Yet as soon as Peter heard Jesus’ voice telling them not to be afraid, he decides to ‘take the plunge’ – literally!  ‘Lord, if it’s you,” he says, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’  And when Jesus says to him one simple word – ‘Come’, Peter does exactly that.  Sure, he freaks out after a while and begins to sink, but Jesus is there for him, when he yells for help.  At least he had the courage to try.  At least he showed he trusted Jesus that much.

A couple of chapters further on, Jesus asks his disciples a simple question: ‘Who do you say I am?’  Peter is the one who answers unequivocally, with great faith and insight:  ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’   Yet in the same chapter, we read how Peter rebukes Jesus, refusing to believe the Son of God has to suffer and die.  Jesus in turn gives him an even sterner rebuke: ’Get behind me, Satan!’  Ouch!

And what about Peter’s firm assertion in John 13 to Jesus: ‘I will lay now my life for you’?  Yet we know that when Jesus was arrested and taken away to be crucified, Peter denied even knowing him.

But that’s not the end of the story.  In John 21, we read how Jesus, having risen from the dead, reinstates Peter, how he gives him a second chance to be the leader he was called to be.  And again, like that simple ‘Come!’ that got Peter climbing out of that boat, Jesus gives him another simple but profound instruction: ‘Follow me!’  And that is exactly what Peter did – even giving his own life in the process, just as he had said he would.

Stepping out of the boat might seem risky, but Jesus is there to walk towards, to give me a hand up, to follow forever – and I’m so glad of that.

How about you?  How are you at stepping out of boats?

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