God of wisdom, as night falls, let my heart ponder the words you have spoken to me in all I have encountered today. I pray for all those who are afraid to hear your voice. I commit this night to you, my God and Savior. Help me to know the freedom of sins forgiven. Break any bonds of sin that yet bind me. Grant me your rest. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Daily Archives: May 8, 2021
Psalm 100 (ESV)
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
John 21:15, 19 English Standard Version
Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Peter had a rough go of things. In fact, the older I get, I admire Peter because I perhaps can relate to Peter more than any of the other disciples. Peter was hard-headed, but at the same time, he was willing to give things a chance. Peter may have denied Jesus, but he came back and Jesus accepted him with great grace. Peter had a habit of opening his mouth and speaking entirely too soon (yes, I truly understand that), but again, at least he got out of the boat!
As we come to this passage in John’s Gospel, Peter has perhaps been through the roughest stretch to date of his discipleship with Jesus. In his recent history, he denied Jesus at his crucifixion. I would imagine that would weigh very heavily on any of our hearts if it had been us. Then, lo and behold, Jesus was resurrected and standing in their midst. I imagine there was guilt and shame with Peter. But again, what Peter sees in this story is the amazing grace of Jesus when it comes to sin as well as a beautiful and powerful model for forgiveness. There is no denying the dynamics that are going on in this passage. Yet there is a very raw lesson for us in this as well regarding the dynamic of discipleship.
Jesus begins this discourse with Peter with a seemingly simple question: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” What and odd question. I imagine that Peter was taken back a bit when Jesus asked this question. You know those questions we get – I call them the “no brainer” questions. To use the vernacular of my youth, the “well, duh” questions. In other words, its the question that is asked with which there is only one logical answer, so why ask it? Peter responds almost with that, “Well, duh.” He says, “Yes Lord; you know that I love you.” Peter may have denied Jesus three times at his trial, but Peter never lost his love for Jesus. And certainly, here he is now, having a post-resurrection breakfast with Jesus. So, why the question, Jesus?
Let’s bring this a little closer to home. How about us? Jesus asks this question of us as well. Honestly, I doubt any of us who claim the title of Christian, wake up in the morning or go through our day and consciously say, “No, Jesus, I don’t love you today.” That would be an absurdity. However, does our walk suggest that we are answering Jesus’ question with a resounding yes? Consider the things we do throughout the day, consider the memes we share with others (and yes, there are times I am guilty of sharing things I perhaps shouldn’t), what about the words that come out of our mouths? What about the things we place before God everyday? Though our lips may say yes, Jesus, I love you – do our lives truly reflect this yes answer? Our culture has taught us many things that are counter-Christian and we have bought into so many things, accepted so many things. We have almost come to this attitude: Well, that’s just the way things are now. But if we truly love Jesus, is this the stance we should have?
If we love Jesus, yet disregard Him and his Word, do we REALLY love Jesus? As I watch the political going ons of my nation and my denomination, I have to wonder what we really love at times.
You see, there is a true litmus test for whether or not we truly love Jesus. In fact, it is very clear – Jesus states what that is in John 21:19b: “And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” Understand what Jesus is NOT saying here. He is not saying to follow our perception of Him…he is admonishing us to follow HIM. There is a huge difference between the two. How do we know the difference?
God gave us three sure things to let us know if we are really following Jesus. First, we have the inspired Word of God – the Scriptures. In the Scriptures, we find what it means to be a follower of Jesus and what it means to be a disciple. We see the nature of the great Mystery (God) revealed to the best of our finite ability to comprehend. The interesting thing is this: God does not change nor does his Word change simply because we have cultural changes. We cannot know the Triune God and how to live in relationship with this Triune God, if we do not know the Word of God. Tragically, I have seen a trend over the almost two and a half decades of my ministry that believes that the Scriptures are fluid. In other words, as culture changes, so should our interpretation of Scripture. That is a very dangerous stance indeed considering God himself says that he and his Word never changes. Many have come to believe that culture is the litmus test for interpreting (and evening changing) Scripture, rather than using Scripture as the litmus test in which we should walk, understand, and live our morality in a world that is losing its morals faster than at any time I can remember in my life. If culture contradicts Scripture – as Christians, we must go with Scripture.
Second we have been blessed with the Creeds from the Early Church Fathers and Mothers. The beautiful thing about the Creed is that they are the blueprint for what it means to be a Christian – a follower. If we deny any of those things – we deny God. I know that may not be populist thinking, but it does not negate the truth of that statement either. God blessed them with great wisdom and insight to pass on the truths of the nature of God. If we truly love God, we must truly accept God – virgin birth, resurrection, and all.
Third, God gave us Jesus, who is, by his own words, “the sum of the law” (Matthew 5:17). We cannot say we love Jesus and deny Him at the same time. Either we believe he is the begotten Son of God, the atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity, the salvation for all creation, who sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead, or he isn’t.
You see, to love God is to buy into him completely – and that means following him completely. Are we always going to get it right? Heavens no. Look at Peter. He had some really bad days – but he always stepped back, repented, and even in this passage today, was redeemed by God’s love. That is the same for us. However, Jesus knows the person who is giving lip-service over true allegiance.
So, as this day begins – Jesus asks YOU – do you love him. What is your answer? By your words, your thoughts, your actions, your life – can you say, with Peter, “Well, duh, Jesus – isn’t it obvious?” One way or another – that is a very true statement.
Praise God, that he knows we are striving and that we are working towards perfection. Praise God that he is forgiving. Praise God that he redeems us, even when we go off on our own way. Praise God that he loves us so much that even when our answer may be no, his grace and mercy will forgive us when we realize that we may not be following him the way we should.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.