Read John 21:15-19
Growing up, I thought my older brother, James, was the coolest. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to do everything he did. I liked everything he liked. That’s how it works with older brothers. Some days we would be inseparable. It would be like we were best friends, but at other times it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Everything I did would annoy him. We would be at each other’s throats. That’s also how it works with older brothers.
I learned so much about relationships from growing up with an older brother. In the beginning it was mostly me tagging along at his heels. He was my hero, and I was simply trying to do whatever I could to impress him. As we both grew older, there was more give and take in our relationship. It matured to a real friendship.
Jesus referred to His disciples as His brother. I wonder what that would be like? To think of Jesus in the same way I think about my own brother.
This week we have been looking at stories of people who met Jesus. People who actually talked with the Son of God, and how this meeting changed their lives. Many of these stories are about people who probably only met Jesus the one time. This is not the case for Peter. Peter was one of the twelve disciples. He followed Jesus everywhere. Peter wasn’t just an acquaintance of Jesus. Peter was a friend. Jesus called Peter His brother.
In John 21:15 we get a glimpse of one of Peter’s last interactions with Jesus. Peter has already denied even knowing Jesus, not once but three times. Jesus has already risen from the dead. Now Jesus is back and it is safe to assume that there might be some tension in the air for Peter. Even though Jesus predicted Peter’s denial, Peter is most likely still ashamed about what has happened. It’s possible that Peter questions whether or not Jesus forgives him. After all, Peter deserted Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times. Could Jesus really forgive him? Could Jesus still love him after everything he did?
Peter’s story in the gospels is a rollercoaster. At times he is all in and charging headfirst without a second thought. When Jesus walks on the water, Peter needs the simplest of invitations to hope out of the boat. At other times Peter is confused and unsure. When Jesus attempts to wash
Peter’s feet, Peter is offended. He can’t imagine his Lord serving him. How could Jesus stoop so low? And then when Jesus gently rebukes Peter’s thinking, he overcompensates and asks Jesus to wash his entire body. That wasn’t the point either. Peter still didn’t get it. One thing is clear: Peter was a mess. If someone wrote a textbook about what not to do when meeting Jesus, there would be plenty of Peter stories. Yes, Peter also shows us exactly what a close relationship with Jesus should look like.
I see a lot of myself in Peter’s story. Some days I am all in, so excited to be following Jesus. At other times I am filled with doubt. My relationship with Jesus, ebbs and flows like the tide. I get discouraged. I have moments of intense joy. It’s all there. Just like Peter.
In the passage we see Jesus gently doing damage control…
“Peter, do you love me? “Yes, Jesus.” “Then feed my lambs.”
Jesus asks Peter the same question three times. It is obviously a call back to peter’s three denials. It’s important. Jesus wants Peter to know that everything is good. “Peter, I still love you.” Peter, you can trust me no matter what. Peter, nothing you can do will change this.
It’s the kind of exchange you would have with a close friend. The kind of exchange you would have with a brother. So many times I forget that my relationship with Jesus is supposed to be… an actual relationship. Just like with my brother, sometimes Jesus is the help I look up to. He is God so that’s understandable. We are supposed to honor and worship Him, but there is also supposed to be a more personal side to it.
Jesus came to Earth and died so that we might have an actual relationship with our Creator. To exclude this is to miss the point. So often, I let me interaction with Jesus become one-sided. I pray to Him and I worship Him, but do I really enter into a relationship with Him? It is comforting to remember that no matter what I do, no matter how far I run, Jesus is always there. Seeking a personal relationship with me. Asking me the same questions He asked Peter.
“Do you love me?” “Then feed my lambs.”
- How would you describe your relationship with Jesus?
- Did you meet Jesus in a new and more personal way this week?
Day 8 of 8 from the 2016 Mission Discovery Devotional