Thursday, April 21, 2011

John 21

Can't you just see Peter? This big, gregarious guy who more often leaps before he looks? Peter LOVES Jesus and he is probably just starting to recover from the shame caused by his denial that he was a follower of Christ a few days before.

Peter hears John say that it is Jesus on the shore and he jumps in the water and swims to shore because he is so impatient to get to Jesus. Then he jumps back into the sea at one word from Jesus to help bring in the catch of fish.

After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times. This seems redundant but the first two times Jesus asks, he actually asks Peter if he loves him with a sacrificial love (agape) and Peter answers saying he loves Jesus with an affectionate (phileo) love. The third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, he uses the same Greek word that Peter has been using, "phileo".

Jesus then alludes to the death that Peter will face because of his faith in Him. It is as if Jesus is trying to get Peter to understand that his love for Jesus is a sacrificial love. Peter does eventually come to understand this because he exhibits sacrifical love for Jesus when he is killed for his faith.

How many of us are willing to become martyrs for our faith? Not many of us would be able to say that we love Jesus with a sacrifical love. If asked right now, I suspect most of us, just like Peter, would choose to use the verb 'phileo' when describing our love for Jesus. And, like Peter, we would be hurt that Jesus kept asking us if we loved him.

Christianity, however, is not a religion for the faint hearted. It is based on faith in a God who sacrifices everything to be with us. Why wouldn't we be expected to sacrifice everything for Him?

What do you need to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus?

Father God, on this day that we remember the sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ, help us to let go of everything that holds us back from you. Help us to see our lives as an offering to you and to love you above everyone and everything else in this world. Amen.