The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
Breakfast with Jesus
I know that John 21 includes more story than just Peter’s, but I believe the entire chapter is all about Peter. I believe the miraculous catch in the first half of that chapter is still about Peter. It is important backstory to the moment when he finally got to be reconciled to Christ after his dismal denial a week earlier. In what surely must have been a state of depression, he had to sit idly by and watch each of the other disciples be utterly transformed before him by the various resurrection experiences. Each time, he probably muttered to himself, “well isn’t that just great for John…or Thomas…or Mary…but when do I get my opportunity to make it right with Jesus?”
The miraculous catch in John 21 was that opportunity. Peter leaped from the boat and ran/swam to Jesus as fast as he could! Jesus was waiting for him. And Jesus could not have prepared a more perfectly customized restoration process for Peter. Breakfast on the beach together…eye-to-eye conversation for the first time since that ugly night outside the high priest’s courtyard…three affirmations and exhortations from Jesus…one for each of Peter’s denials. No doubt, the Peter we see in Acts 4 would NOT have appeared but for this critical restoration in John 21.
Our Calling to Do Likewise
Just a matter of minutes before that Peter’s infamous denials, we see Jesus modeling behaviors for us and saying things like:
“For I have given you an example, that you should also do
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:1-2
I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! Psalm 22:22-23
I spent Spring Break in Orlando, doing the theme park thing. Universal, Disney…and roller coasters. Sometimes I don’t do so well on roller coasters. It’s not the huge lifts. It’s not the plunging drops. It’s not the twisting turns. What gets to me is the cumulative effect of all of them…again and again and again. I feel sick just remembering.
David, the writer of poetry and shepherd of sheep and singer of songs and dancer of dances and slayer of giants and armies…David, the writer of so many of the Psalms…exhausts me! He is just so very dramatic, don’t you think? His “highs” are so much higher than I can even imagine and his lows are so much lower than I can connect with. He is an emotional roller coaster!
Me? Not so much, really. I am pretty even-keeled. But I do know the feeling of being “lost” in myself…of feeling so sorry for myself that I lose sight of anyone else around me. My emotional roller coaster may not have the neck-breaking turns and heart-stopping plunges which David’s had…but I can at least connect with the desire to stop the ride so I can get off!
Here is an important thing about David: as emotionally unpredictable as he appears to be, his ongoing …
In raising daughters, there are the years when you have lots of say about who they see and who they do not see…and then those years come to an end and you learn to just keep quiet (mostly) and pray a lot. For my own girls, I have prayed their entire lives that, if other men must come into their lives–and, alas, they apparently must–that those men would know God and walk with Him and be shaped by Him to love my girls well.
But in my most vulnerable moments, ones when my worldly anxieties crept in and I allowed myself to have an opinion on the matter, when I was completely honest with God I probably periodically threw in an extra prayer such as, “…and God, please don’t let them marry a minister.” I had my reasons.
I myself am a pastor’s son. I’ve been around the church my whole life. I have made a career of working with conflicted churches and counseling pastors and church leaders alike through those difficult seasons. I have seen “up close and personal” the results of church fights in tens of thousands of lives. And of all the casualties of mean-spirited Christians and of all the lives and careers I have seen destroyed, the most helpless and defenseless (and typically the most innocent) of all is…the minister’s spouse.
If ministers have had any decent training at all, chances are pretty good that somebody along the way (maybe a seminary professor, maybe a wise friend) has warned them that they have chosen a difficult path, one wrought with mean people and disappointment. So when trouble comes and I am counseling them and I say to them, “Welcome to ministry”, they usually know exactly what I …