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
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Is it just me? Does anybody else read these words from the Apostle Paul and remember those silly Weebles ads about “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” (with apologies to all my international friends who all think I have finally lost my marbles!)? Weebles are those cute little Hasbro/Playskool toys with the weighted bottoms so that they literally cannot be knocked over. They are a near-perfect illustration of this revolution we call Christianity. No matter what the world tries to do to stamp it out, it just gets back up and keeps growing.
And it is that same “struck-down-but-not-destroyed” spirit which inhabits you and me as church leaders today. That is the encouraging word here from Paul to us. We are filled with this same indestructible spirit. The question is, does it feel like that to you? And if it does not, how can you recapture it?
It seems clear to me that this spirit of “indestructibility” which Paul talks about in verses 8-9 is very much tied to his “jars of clay” illustration in verse 7. In other words, it is only when we lose sight of our position as flawed and fragile vessels that we begin to set ourselves up for destruction. When we, as leaders, begin to believe people’s scouting reports on us as “amazing communicators” or “extraordinary people”, when we begin to see ourselves as being just a little bit better than most of those around us, when we tend to forget that …