It is hard to believe today is the last of this series, but I have so enjoyed going through Scripture with you. My prayer is that you will have received a beautiful, intimate picture of Christ that may not be as talked about this time of year. The heart of our Savior is vivid in each word of Scripture, let us hold onto the look of grace and the choice He made, and especially His rising from the grave and calling each of us His by name (a gift for all who believe in His name).
When Jesus appeared to Mary, later that day the disciples had gathered together to obviously discuss all these things, but they were still in hiding and terrified. Despite locked doors, Jesus appears among them. For what are locked doors to a triumphant King?
Jesus tells them “Peace be with you” but they were still startled and thought He was a ghost (Luke 24:36-37). He asks them why they are troubled and in doubt, and then shows them the wounds from the cross on His hands and feet. And He opens their eyes to understand Scripture, but one was not among them (John 20:24).
Thomas was told later that they had seen the Lord, but his response was that unless he saw the nail marks and could put his own hand into His side, he would not believe. A week passes and Jesus comes in when the doors are locked again – Jesus does just as He did before. Showing Thomas His wounds, he finally believes. The disciples then go back to their normal lives. Huh? You may be thinking, but yep turn in your Bible to John 21.
Peter and Thomas (and some of the others) are living as fishermen again. Jesus comes to them on the shore and John recognizes Him. And they ate with Jesus on the shoreline. They all now knew it was Jesus. And this was the third time He had appeared to them since rising from the grave.
Thomas who had doubted had come to believe and Peter who had denied Jesus, well now was his moment. Jesus asks him in John 21:15, “do you love me more than these?”
He says, “You know that I love you.” And this goes on three times each with Jesus responding, “Feed my lambs (verse 15), take care of my sheep (verse 16), and feed my sheep (verse 17). Then in verse 19 Jesus asks Peter to follow Him.
What can we learn here? By feeding His sheep, loving those lost and saved, we are loving Him.
Jesus knew Peter was going to deny Him, and He also knew the events that happened would grow Peter into the man he needed to be to “feed His sheep”. This truly was when Peter stepped into the meaning of his name (rock). Remember when Jesus had given this name to him? That was all the way back in John 1:42 and in Matthew 16:18, Jesus had told Peter that he would be the rock on whom He would build His church.
Now we see Peter actually becoming what that name means. From a man that denied Jesus to a man that hid in a locked room and then to one who would go on to be foundational for the early church and Christians everywhere. Where can we contribute the change? To a shoreside lunch. Where Jesus calls him up. Don’t you think that the look Jesus gave Peter after that rooster crowed was one of grace and hope for the future? I do too.
Did you know Peter would end up dying for his faith? Just as Jesus predicted in John 21:18, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
In fact, Peter was crucified as well but because he did not find himself worthy of dying the same way Jesus did – he insisted on being crucified upside down. A man who denied… to a man who died for his faith. The reason? Only Jesus.
Just like you and me. We are Peter too. His story matters because just like him we have messed up. Even after knowing Jesus and yet, Jesus doesn’t call us by our past. Just as Jesus called him Peter for the meaning behind that name – so does He call us. He calls us to more.
And finally, let us look at that more.
The final thing Jesus said to the disciples before ascending to Heaven, they had asked Him about when He would come back and restore His kingdom:
“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends to the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8).
And YOU, will be His witness in your hometown, your county, your country, and the whole world.
That starts right now, and right here. So we my friend are Peter too – burdened with a mission written by the heart of our Savior! Will you follow Him too?