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Jesus gave Peter a moment to undo his worst moment

May 3, 2024
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Daily Scripture

John 21:9-13, 15-19

9 When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.

15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Peter’s faith “crashed” around a fire (cf. John 18:15-18, 25-27). He denied knowing Jesus three times. How could he possibly ever overcome that shame and regret? Jesus, a master psychologist, asked Peter to affirm his love three times, deeper because Jesus forgave his failure. Then Jesus said he would be able to carry out his pledge that “I’ll give up my life for you” (John 13:37). With the cost of his choice clear Jesus repeated the same call Peter heard first (cf. Matthew 4:18-19): “Follow me.”

  • Scholar N. T. Wright said, “The three questions correspond to Peter’s three denials. Three for completeness, yes, but three also for reminder. The smell of the charcoal fire lingers. Peter’s night of agony—and Jesus’ own night of agony—returns. But because of the latter, the former can be dealt with.” * What failures (if any) haunt your connection with Jesus? Imagine yourself with him, by that fire. Hear Jesus ask you, “______, do you love me?” Answer, three times, and know Jesus has dealt with any barriers between you.

  • The fish and bread were ready, yet Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Why doesn’t Jesus just do everything for us, changing us into the people he wants us to be, but instead ask us to join our efforts with his spiritual power? In what ways does his call for you to work with him to grow spiritually offer the best path to character development, so that you are still “you,” but a new you?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, “Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.” I recite John Wesley’s words at church. Please help me to mean them. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller serves as Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection Overland Park. A Kansas native, she has been a professional actress for nearly two decades, and she loves to see the vastness of God’s creation through theatre and the arts. Leah is pursuing an M.Div. from Saint Paul School of Theology. Leah, Brian, and their two children love to play tennis, golf, soccer, and board games.

A week from today, I will be walking across the stage of the Wesley Chapel here at the Church of the Resurrection, graduating from Saint Paul School of Theology with a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and specializations in both deacon studies and women, society, and church studies. I would’ve laughed in your face if you had told me years ago that this would be happening. I would have scoffed at the idea of ever doing full-time ministry. But I felt a call so strong it was as if I was sitting with Peter next to that fire, seaside, listening to Jesus ask me to feed his lamb and sheep.

I have shared before the crazy idea God called me into, during the middle of a global pandemic, to start seminary and youth ministry all in the same week. And I can assure you that during this long journey of intense seminary education and ministry, I have wondered, many times out loud, why God can’t just “bibbity boppity” me, Fairy Godmother style, and change me into who God wants me to be. Why must I endure the frustrations, self-doubt, and three-hour long theology classes every week? Can’t God immediately change me into the pastor and seminarian God has been calling me to be?

Spoiler alert: the answer is no. And that’s tough to hear because this path is full of doubts, fears, questions, and, at times, isolation. This journey is fought with twists and turns, mountains and valleys. God has listened to me cry out in frustration, sometimes at 3 AM, while trying to finish that final paper. God has heard me question my call when things don’t go to plan or when uncomfortable learning lessons arise. God is not going to do it all for me, but God is with me every step of the way, and that’s an empowering promise. God is also setting a support system around me who laughs, prays, offers me much-needed grace, and sends me silly Taylor Swift or Cat memes when I have needed it so many times. God doesn’t do it all for us because the Gospel life is found in the “doing” with God and others. There is nothing like community built when we trust in God’s calling and see it unfold surprisingly while doing life with the people around us. That is the character-building God seeks.

As I walk across that stage in cap and gown with my professors, classmates, colleagues, mentors, pastors, family, and friends present, I will be affirmed why God doesn’t sprinkle fairy dust and change us into the people God wants us to be. In that moment, I will see the community, which has continued to love me so well, and a reflection of Jesus in them, a reflection of God’s love and grace that I would not have seen so richly had I not gone on this journey. And as I pray the Wesleyan prayer,

“Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee,”

I will know more deeply how to be the love of Jesus in their lives as I am blessed to walk alongside them on their journey.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, part 2. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 164.)