Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect on and renew our faith journey, and that’s what I’ve been doing over these first two weeks of Lent. I’d like to share my thoughts on a Bible passage I’ve been reading over lately. And as you join me, I invite you to reflect on these two questions:
– In what or in whom do you rest your hope?
– What is the condition of your relationship with God?
Read John 21:15-25 with me, and as you read, picture the scene: dawn is breaking on the shores of Galilee and good friends are having breakfast together on the beach. Two of them are talking quietly together.
“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!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Just days before this tender moment on the beach, Peter had denied knowing Jesus. So he no doubt felt deeply ashamed, full of guilt at his weakness and his betrayal of his Master.
I suspect that we, too, would feel Peter’s shame if we had been in his shoes. Our friend, Jesus, who we had betrayed, would have every right to mistrust us. But here we see that Jesus does not once refer to Peter’s untrustworthiness. Instead, his conversation with Peter is one of entrustment: entrusting the care of his precious lambs to Peter.
Jesus does this three times to reassure Peter of his trust in him. But Peter, being human, does not get this precious message of love and affirmation straight away and continues to compare himself to others: “Lord, what about him?”
Secondly, we need to rest our hearts on God’s grace alone because our own obedience will fail us at some point. Despite our imperfections, we can go about our work as heirs to the throne of God’s grace, as his very own sons and daughters. I urge you to grasp the wonderful gift that God gives each day: yesterday’s debt is cancelled! Today and every day we are given a new credit account to start again!
“It is finished,” said our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. The finished work of Jesus Christ provides all the healing and wholeness for a bankrupt human account.
So today, dear friends, at this time of Lent, may we receive a new day of hope in God.