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 office is in downtown San Antonio. My daily walk from my parking garage to my building takes me right through the heart of one of our city’s gathering places for homeless folks. Years ago, when I first started making this walk, my heart went out to these men and women and I found myself giving to them pretty regularly. Over time, I felt like I needed to develop some “rules” about who I would give to and under what circumstances. If I am going to be a servant, after all, there have to be some parameters. You know what I mean: (1) no money for anyone who smells of alcohol, (2) no money for anyone who is rude, (3) no money next time for anyone who doesn’t seem grateful this time, etc. The list of rules has grown over time.
It has occurred to me this week as I prepare to teach John 13:1-17 that, with regard to servanthood, Jesus not only demonstrated WHAT to do, but He demonstrated HOW to do it. He could have done the foot washing by just standing up, grabbing a wash basin, and quickly going through the motions, but He did not do that. He made it a point to first take on the form of a slave before he even began the work. Far beyond the mere act of serving, He gave us an insight into the attitude of serving, i.e., the condition of the heart of the servant.
Servants do not serve with a list of rules about the condition under which they will serve. Servants do not come to their master with a list of terms for their “service agreement”. Isn’t this what Jesus meant in this passage when He reminds us that “no servant is greater than His master…”? …
Your church is not just comprised of people. It is comprised of relationships among those people. That’s an important distinction. It is the difference between a pile of bricks and a building made with those bricks. It is the difference between a jumbled wad of thread and a fabric woven with that thread. It is not just the people who make up the church…it is the specific ways in which those people relate to one another that either make them a New Testament church or not. More specifically, it is the Spirit of God living in those people and moving them into relationships with each other which make them a church.
I often describe the church as a fabric. Each of us is a single thread in that fabric. Every place my “thread” touches another “thread” is a relationship. And all of those relationships, together, form my local congregation.
There are always things putting pressure on that fabric…weighty objects (“issues”) which God permits to fall into the fabric of your church. Some of those issues are heavy and others are pretty light. But when one of those issues tears the fabric, it is not just a function of the weight of the issue. It is a function of the strength of the fabric. Churches which teach and practice Biblical interpersonal relationships constitute strong fabrics. They can handle lots of challenges. But churches who do not teach good relationships will eventually become littered with broken or damaged relationships, i.e., weak fabric. And where the fabric is weak enough, it doesn’t take much to tear it wide open.
Another metaphor that works here is thinking of your “fabric” as a latex balloon. When you inflate it and then hold it up to the light, you can actually see where …