Peter and Me. We are connected in many ways. Because I am prone to stumble and fall in my Christian journey, I am continually drawn to scripture to read about the waywardness and sinfulness of man. Even those after “God’s own heart” had their selfish moments. My heart resonates with Peter’s journey toward Christ. But it’s not his sin that draws me to the Bible … it’s a deeper understanding of God’s gracious and merciful way of dealing with the sinner that pulls me in.
When Jesus came onto the scene, He encountered a man named Peter. I relate with this hardworking and responsible disciple who loved his spouse and had close family connections. I also relate to his characteristics of being self-sufficient, quick to speak, slow to think, and, at times, carrying pride in his heart and exhibiting a “know it all” attitude. Peter also had a need no other human could fulfill; he sought a place to belong, a love to cling to, and a purpose that would set him into his destiny and stir his passion. I relate to this as well.
Come, Follow Me
As Jesus called to Peter, “Come, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men,” Peter left his net and said “yes” to Jesus. In this initial response, Peter reasoned as one who knew scripture, but he did not intimately know Jesus. He didn’t have an inkling of the Gospel until the Gospel stood directly in front of him and called out. But with his “yes,” Peter’s life and understanding started a journey toward deepening.
I was 8 years old when I accepted that same call, “Come, follow me.” I learned scripture as a child and I reasoned, learned, and applied it through the heart and mind of a child. I did not have an adult depth of understanding, but I had a desire to learn and understand more. I was much like Peter when he initially threw down his fisherman’s net to follow the Savior. My “yes” came from the very depth of my 8-year-old being. My life and understanding started a journey toward deepening.
Storms of Life
As the greatest storm of Peter’s life hit and his Messiah was crucified, died, and buried, massive pain, disappointment, brokenness, and confusion flooded his soul. He grieved the loss of his Savior and friend, his hope and rescue. What did Peter do? He returned to the one thing he knew before Jesus came onto the scene. He returned to his boat and went fishing. And he caught nothing.
Storms of life have a way of pulling us into seasons of reflection. I wonder what Peter thought as he sat on the boat. Did he recall the times he spent with Jesus? Did he question his own sanity in believing in someone who could not defeat death? Did he ask why? How badly did he beat himself up for denying the One he loved? Was Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus his last proclamation of his faith? Oh, how his confusion and guilt must have pierced his heart as deeply as the soldier’s sword pierced the flesh of Jesus.
Heaviness of Heart
Can you imagine the heaviness of Peter’s heart and spirit as he sat on that boat, casting the net, and catching nothing? Did the emptiness of that net reflect the emptiness within his own heart?
My mind wanders to my own season of brokenness, as I sat in the heaviness of grief and pain. The emptiness in my heart sought a healing balm that would go deeper than the pain.
It is the Lord!
And then, Jesus appeared to Peter again. He called out to Peter and the disciples as they cast their nets on the lake, but they did not recognize him to be Jesus. Hearing they had caught no fish, Jesus told them to throw the net on the right side of the boat. When they did, the net was so full of fish they could barely pull it in.
Then John said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter jumped into the water and quickly made his way to shore. I wonder if, as he tried to run through the water, those four words echoed in his heart,
“It is the Lord! It is the Lord! It is the Lord!”
With every step, with every splash of water, did his anticipation and excitement grow? Was he bursting at the seams to embrace his friend and seek forgiveness? Was he anxious about the reception he would receive from His Lord? And then, the unbelievable happened. Jesus offered forgiveness, passion, and purpose to this man He loved.
What a beautiful rescue, again, for Peter. Not because of the net filled with fish, but because the pain in his heart could finally find a place of rest; the guilt in his heart could finally find a place of peace; the confusion in his mind could finally find a place of clarity, and the grief in his heart could finally find a place of rest.
A Deeper Invitation
“It is the Lord! It is the Lord! It is the Lord!”
Can you hear the celebration ring out as those words echo in the air?
Have you seen Him in such an intimate way? In the midst of your storm, have you recognized His hand in your situation and proclaimed, “It is the Lord!”?
The encouragement from this story is how Jesus put Peter’s heart in a place of truth, worship, and rest. And then, looking into the eyes of the forgiven one, Jesus again issued this invitation, “Come, follow me.”
And Peter did.
This Time …
But this time would be different. This time Peter wasn’t following Jesus without understanding and with a personal agenda in mind.
No, this time, Peter accepted the call with an understanding of the One he would follow and with an intimate relationship with the Caller.
This time, the commitment coursed through his veins, it was knit into his DNA through the confusion, grief, and guilt he suffered. His love for Christ pulsed through his very heartbeat and nothing would ever again separate him from his love for Jesus, his devotion to “The Way” and his call to become a fisher of men.
Because this time, the call was his passion, his desire, his life.
This time, he would give his very life for the One who gave His life for all mankind.
This time, Peter’s “yes” was based on truth and accepted on God’s terms and not his own selfish ambition.
How about you? Through the storms of life, has your commitment and love for Christ changed in such a way that you know Him more deeply, more intimately? Are you filled with passion and a desire for Him? Will you give your very life for Him? Are you ready to lay aside your own agenda and selfish ambition and pick up His cause?
These are hard questions that deserve our attention. As we walk with Peter, do we relate to the prideful and mouthy man who thought he could conquer the world on his own? Or do we understand our dependence on the One who leads, knowing He holds the key to our heart and our life passion?
Open our eyes so that we may proclaim, “It is the Lord!” as we see your work and move within our life and community. May we praise you from the mountaintops, may we see you in the valleys, may our lips daily proclaim your goodness in the land of the living. May we wholeheartedly follow you to the depths and heights of your love. Empower us with Your presence, Lord. Amen.