Transitions are filled with uncertainty. As we move through a change, we inevitably spend time ‘in between’. It’s a place of tension and uncertainty, but also a place of growth and enlightenment. When we turn back from our wandering and begin the process of redemption, we will find ourselves ‘in between’ as God prepares us to follow Him.
Peter was in such a place the last night he went fishing with the disciples. They were ‘in between’. Jesus had risen and appeared to them a couple of times, but their future was still very uncertain. Perhaps they were considering if they should go back to their old fishing careers? What was to become of their ministry without Jesus? What were they supposed to do next?
They fished all night, but caught nothing until Jesus appeared and caused their nets to swell with fish. He then cooked them breakfast on the shore. After they ate, Jesus had this conversation with Peter:
[callout]When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
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. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19 NIV)[/callout]
Below is a movie version of this passage from “The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John”. (This scene begins at minute 6:48.)
[youtube id=”TPksReyvb0c” height=”353″ width=”574″ marginbottom=”15″]
Redemption is the process of allowing God to drive change in our lives
Jesus asked Peter three times to confirm how much he loves Jesus. Does he love Jesus more than the others? Peter answers yes, three times. Three times, perhaps once for each of his denials. Three times to make sure the point was driven home. Three times to make sure Peter’s heart was fully surrendered to Jesus.
Not only did Jesus forgive Peter and accept him back into his inner circle, but he called Peter to a leadership position. “Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep.” Peter wasn’t to sit on the sidelines because he wandered and doubted. He didn’t lose his position as leader of the disciples. No, he was to take all his past experiences – good and bad – and use those to care for and grow this new community of believers.
Once we admit our sin and repent, we are called to follow Him
The last recorded words Jesus says to Peter are “Follow me!” These are the same words Jesus says to each of us.
Once we turn away from wherever we’ve wandered, Jesus asks us to follow him.
Set aside our own plans, so we can focus on following His plan
The disciples learned that night they couldn’t just go back to their old lives. They had lost their special touch at fishing. Yet, Jesus showed them how they could do far more with him than without him.
Jesus asked Peter to trust and follow a new plan to an unknown future to feed and care for Jesus’ people.
God-driven changes can seem scary, but He has better plans than we could ever imagine
As we’ve discussed different types of changes in our lives, redemption comes when we accept a “God-driven change”. These changes can be scary and full of unknowns, but we have to trust that God is in charge and His plans are always bigger and better than anything we could imagine.
Jesus gives Peter a preview of what is to come and it’s quite daunting. Jesus indicates that Peter will also be crucified when he’s older; that he will die a martyr’s death. Would you be ready to sign up for that assignment? Yet think of all Peter accomplished before that happened. We’ll cover some of these in the coming weeks, but Peter was instrumental in establishing this Christian church and expanding the ministry beyond Israel, even to the Gentiles. He’s the reason you and I can call ourselves Christians and fully inherit all of God’s promises for His people.
By the time Peter had faithfully followed his call and came to the end Jesus predicted, he’d learned to trust God in all things. Legend has it that Peter’s wife was martyred just before Peter. As he watched her being led off to die, he shouted words of encouragement to her, “Remember the Lord!”
How many of us would feel encouraging and positive at a moment like that? That kind of faith only comes through trusting in God time and again to lead us through our life’s trials and seeing how God can work in our lives to use those trials to bring us closer to Him and closer to his vision for our lives. Peter knew death was not the end of his story or his wife’s story. He had seen Jesus overcome death and knew that death finally going home to be with his friend and Messiah, Jesus. He had fought the good fight and it was time to go home.
Read the full passage for yourself: John 21:1-19
Reflect on the questions below:
1) What does this passage tell you about Jesus?
2) How does this passage speak to you?
3) What do you need redeemed in your life? Ask God to lead you through a God-driven change.
If you want to dig deeper into the life and lessons of Peter, I highly recommend two books:
“A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter”, by Michael Card and “The Fisherman: A Novel”, by Larry Huntsperger
[callout]This post is part of the “A Better Change” series. For more information on this series and to find related posts, click here: A Better Change Series – Overview[/callout]