October 6, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
It has been often said that impulsive Peter always seemed to have his foot in his mouth! He was often eating his words! His biggest ‘meal’ – chewing on his sandal – was when in Matthew 26:34 and 35 – he thrice denied Him. Jesus had told him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And Peter boldly boasted, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” You know the rest of the story. Three times, even with cursing and swearing – Peter declared, “I do not know the Man!” (Matthew 26:69 through 74).
How many times have I denied the Lord? How many times have you? It may not be so blatant as did Peter, but we often deny Him none the less. The third of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:7 says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” We carry the name of Jesus Christ Himself! We are called ‘Christians’! How many times have we not acted like Christians should? How many times have we dragged His holy name through the mud?!! Yes, Peter Is My Man!
But the story does not end there, thank God! In John 21:15 through 17, there is recorded Peter’s restoration:
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.” He said to
him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, Do you love Me?” He
said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him,
“Feed My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah,
do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time,
“Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You
know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Three times Peter denied Jesus! Three times the Lord asked him, “Do you love me? ” But it is interesting to see just how Jesus did this:
• The first time, in John 21:15, Jesus used “agapas” for the word “love.” That is a form of the Greek word agape, the kind of love that loves the unlovely unconditionally – even if not receiving anything in return. It is the love wherewith God loves us so much “…that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). But Peter answered, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You…,” using the word “philo” – a form of the word philadelphia meaning “brotherly love.” Philadelphia – the city in southeastern Pennsylvania – is known as “the city of brotherly love.” But philadelphia is the kind of love that needs to be returned to be sustained. So Peter actually used a word for love that is a step down from agape!
• “He said to him again…‘Do you love Me?’ ” (John 21:16). Again Jesus used “agapas.” And again Peter answered with “philo.”
• “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ ” This time Jesus used the word, “phileis,” another form of philadelphia. It was like He was coming down to Peter’s level so the errant apostle could be reconnected with his Lord. And Peter – the third time – answered with “philo.”
But philadelphia is not too far of a step down from agape. Read Hebrews chapter 13 to see how such brotherly love plays out.
Peter was restored – thanks be to the mercy and grace of God! He even died for His Lord, never again denying Him. And how many times has He restored you and me? Yes, Peter Is My Man!
Now Jesus’ three challenges to Peter all came with a charge:
• “Feed My lambs.” (verse 15).
• “Feed My sheep.” (verse 16).
• “Feed My sheep.” (verse 17).
Love for Jesus Christ must be shown to His followers here in this world! Yes, we must love sinners and invite them to put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and enter the Kingdom. But Christians are all part of the Body of Christ, the Church. And we are all brothers and sisters in Him – with Jesus being our Elder Brother.
Just as we are to love our family members and help them grow to be all that they were meant to be, so we are called to “Feed My lambs ….Feed My sheep.” Are you helping others to be nourished in Christ? Am I?