Today’s text: Proverbs 8-9 John 21
In today’s text from John 21 we find Peter announcing to several of the other disciples that he’s going fishing. They had gathered together to wait for Jesus appearance but after some days had past Peter and seven of the 11 remaining disciples head for the boat. I am certain that the events in the past few weeks were difficult for all the disciples to process but especially so for Peter. There is no doubt that Peter knew that Christ loved him and that he had been forgiven for his acts of denial but the greater question is whether Peter was able to forgive himself for his failures. It is often comforting to return to those things we know the best when we find ourselves in the valley of decision. Peter had made a career out of being a fisherman so imagine his frustration after toiling all night at something he knew so well to have nothing in exchange for his efforts but fatigue, frustration and hunger. As they brought their boat towards shore they discovered Jesus who provided a catch, a meal and more importantly the restoral of Peter’s ministry.
When they had finished eating Jesus turned his attention upon Peter and although few words were spoken volumes were communicated. In the questions and responses Jesus caused Peter to address the motive, assignment and focus of the ministry to which he was being called.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Jesus was not implying that Peter did not love him nor was the question being asked because Jesus needed an answer. The question was asked because Peter needed to return to the foundation of his calling. There was no discussion about biblical knowledge, seminary training, no personality testing or request for references. There was no discussion about compensation, benefit packages, heavenly rewards or the ownership of intellectual property. Jesus focused on the single most important qualification for ministry, “Do you love Me?” Jesus is causing Peter to examine the very depths of his own heart. Three times Jesus asked the question. He never brought up past failures or past successes. He focused on current realities to which Peter with a tone of humility responded, “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.” Love is the only motive for ministry that will endure. Love is strong and powerful. Love is the principal defining attribute of Christians and our love for Christ is the primary fundamental requirement of all Christian ministry.
Jesus followed His question with a statement defining Peter’s assignment, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus did not tell him to dwell in a place of solitude so he may not be corrupted by all these halfhearted sheep. He didn’t tell him to stay here where he had been fed but told him three times how he was to express his love, “Feed my sheep.” Our love for God is reflected by how we love others.
1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. :21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
By those few words Jesus is committing the care of his blood bought children into the hands of Peter.
Jesus also disclosed to Peter what the cost of service was to be. When Peter realizes that Jesus is describing a martyr’s death, Peter looked back at John and asked, “Lord, what about him?” It is never easy to face difficulty. It is especially unpleasant when we recognize that our level of sacrifice may be greater than that of our brothers. We’ve not been called to compare, we are called to obey. The focus is not upon us but rather upon the true motive of our calling Jesus.