|Christ eating with His disciples - James Tissot|
TO CHEW ON: "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonah, 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.'" John 21:15
We can learn much from Jesus, not least of which in the area of how He went about fulfilling His mission. Here, near the end of HIs time on earth, He goes about his 'job' and does it in ways that teach us about how to do our job as spreaders of the good news.
In our story we see that:
1. He went to the people. He made the effort to interact with His disciples in their setting—the Sea of Tiberias—and early in the morning after their night shift of fishing.
2. He understood and met their needs. He realized they would be far more apt to listen if they weren't hungry and made them breakfast. I don't believe he served them in a manipulative way though, but out of a genuine concern for their well-being. He loved them and cared for their needs. I like to think He would have made them breakfast in any case whether they (Peter in this case) would respond positively to Him or not.
3. He dealt with outstanding issues. Here he cleared the air between Himself and Peter. We can only imagine the self-recrimination Peter had after denying Jesus. It seems he was ready to pitch the last three-ish years of following Jesus and go back to his old life. Jesus didn't pretend there was nothing wrong. Rather, He acknowledged Peter's denial by singling him out and making him face the love-loyalty issue between them.
4. He commissioned them, here specifically Peter, to join in the work of growing the kingdom.
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we try to apply these principles to our job of continuing to grow the Kingdom of God:
- Do we go to the people where they are? Yes, it's fine to invite folks to come to church, but we need to also seek them out on their turf—invite them for coffee, to play a round of golf, go shopping, organize playdates with the kids…
- Do we genuinely care about people? Is our first thought meeting their needs? And is our love genuine, our attention to their needs given with a no-strings-attached attitude?
- Do we have outstanding issues with anyone? How can we clear them up? Jesus' example of acknowledging what happened between Him and Peter in a subtle, face-saving way is worth study and thought.
- Do we enlist the help of others? Do we see their God-given potential and plant dreams of spiritual usefulness by affirming them?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please help me to learn from both people in this story. I need to do the things Jesus did here. And I need, also, to be like Peter, leaving once and for all the old life of "fishing' to do kingdom work. Amen.
MORE: "So Send I You"
The hymn "So Send I You," written by the late Margaret Clarkson, came to mind as I thought about Jesus' commission to Peter. Clicking on the linked title will take you to a video of a choir from South Africa singing it. Follow along with the lyrics—and be challenged!
So Send I You
So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing-
So send I you to toil for Me alone.
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
O’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world aweary-
So send I you to suffer for My sake.
So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With heart ahung’ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one-
So send I you to know My love alone.
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you-
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, tho’ it be blood, to spend and spare not-
So send I you to taste of Calvary.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.