Peter: New Resolve
Luke’s account has details in chapter 24 that indicate Jesus and Peter saw each other while still in Jerusalem.
John’s narrative (chapter 20) tells how Jesus surprised them the Sunday following the resurrection — everybody but Yeah-Right-Thomas.
But you can be in a meeting with someone without having opportunity for face to face conversation with the One you let down the night before he died.
If that’s the case, try to picture, if you can, the emotions swirling around inside Peter and the others walking from Jerusalem North towards Galilee. If they averaged twenty miles a day, walking, it’s a good three and a half days from Jerusalem to home. Today, at 70 mph it would take you an hour. But these people were walking, most-likely in a group since it wasn’t safe to travel alone in those times. The terrain protected the villian much more than was fair, so travelling in groups provided security.
Travelling on foot with other people gives a guy opportunity to walk along and listen to the others. Or not listen – just think. You can fall behind just a bit, stay within view so you can smile and wave when someone turns around “to see if you’re still with us” — and go back to your thoughts.
Peter was relieved, I think, that Jesus had wanted him -specifically him- to be there when He saw his men next in Galilee.
Peter was human, though. Like us. I know how I feel when someone I’ve wronged wants to see me. I hope for the best and imagine the worst, both at the same time: What’s He going to say to me? I’m in for it, aren’t I? He did ask specifically that the ladies tell me He was alive and heading for Galilee, maybe we’re OK. That last look He gave me, though. I will never forget that look.
I think those thoughts probably walked beside him in silence all the way home while Peter practiced every possible scenario in his mind: If He says this, I’ll say this. No, that’s dumb. I should say it this way. No, maybe… oh I don’t know, how SHOULD I answer Him? Maybe I should just throw myself on the ground in front of Him and beg for mercy; let Him take it from there. Maybe if I tell the guys how sorry I am for what I said and for denying Him, they’ll get the word to Him ahead of time and He’ll go easy on me. Maybe if I’m the first one at the meeting place we can have a few minutes together before the others arrive. Maybe….
…ever done that? I sure have.
Peter knew Jesus wanted him there when He met with them back in Galilee territory, but he hadn’t yet heard Him say the words “I forgive you, Peter. Honest.”
If Elijah was a man “subject to like passions as we are” I’m inclined to think Peter was too. And I’m a mess in those in-between hours, aren’t you?
So when they arrived in Capernaum, I imagine he picked up the mail and opened the windows to freshen up the house while Mrs. Peter tossed everything in the wash. I can almost hear him when he comes back across the street from paying the neighbor kid for keeping an eye on the place and watering the house plants, “Any word from the Master?”
“Not yet, Honey.”
Waited some more. “Man I hate this. Think I’ll go check on Abe and the boats, Hon'”
An hour later: “Everything’s fine. The catch has been pretty good all week.”
“That’s good news, how’s the crew?”
Then more waiting.
And more waiting. Peter’s tired of being told to quit drumming his fingers on the table. He’s tired of being told his pacing is going to wear a path in the carpet. His wife is trying to think of things for him to do keep him occupied, get him out of the house a while when he says “Think I’ll go fishing tonight.”
“Good idea. It’ll keep you busy. Take your mind off things.”
You can read the details of what happened in John 21: 1-19.
I’ve tried to imagine this week what Peter may have written in his journal the next morning. This isn’t in the text, OK? I journal, and I’m trying to picture what he might have written had Peter kept a journal.
We saw Jesus again this morning. This is the third time since He’s come back from the dead. We were fishing last night and he showed up on the lake-shore while we were out, made us all breakfast. Nothing better than fresh-caught fish cooked over an open fire after a nice catch. 153 last night! And no tears in the nets! How fortuitous!
After breakfast Jesus and I finally had a few minutes to ourselves. I was ready to start into my little speech ending in my apology when He hit me with it, man to man. “Do you love me more than these?” My first thoughts were “You’ve got THAT right!” but that didn’t sound respectful enough so I said “Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.”
“Tend my lambs,” He said.
Then He asked me again. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Of course I said “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
“Shepherd my sheep.”
There was this pause, and he hit me with it again. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Ohhhh my. I should have known this would be difficult. “Lord, You know all things. You know I that I love you!”
“Tend my sheep.” He said. And then He went on to talk about older-younger kinds of things and ended the conversation with “Follow me.”
That I can do. Follow I mean. I have followed, I have failed, I am following again, and I am resolved to continue – faithfully to the death. If I have anything to say about it I will never … no, let me say that differently.
I am resolved not to fail Him again the way I failed Him in Jerusalem. I know I’m forgiven and that means more to me than life itself, almost. Forgiven. His eyes, his tone of voice, that He made us all breakfast at the lake and spent time with us all, and me one-on-one… I know I’m forgiven. I can’t tell you how good that feels!
I can tell you this. Jesus is the Son of God, God is love and He loves me!
And I, for one am going to love Him in return with everything I am and everything I have!
It’s like He threw the gates of Heaven wide open today with his instructions. Feed my sheep. Shepherd my sheep. Tend my sheep. Once for each time I said “I don’t know the man” that night in Jerusalem .
Knowing I am right with my Lord and Master again, I am resolved to live for Him with the full strength of every breath I take from this day forward,.
Mine is a new chapter, and this one will have a happier ending, I pray. I am not worthy of Him, but He is worthy of the best I have to offer.
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