Monday, September 19, 2011
Do You Love Me?
(This is a random thing I wrote today. Just thought I'd share.)
We pulled an empty net back into the boat. Again. We spent the whole night fishing, but we caught nothing. My dearest friends scooped the net up and tossed it back into the sea. I felt bad they were here. It was my idea to even come in the first place; they were here just to keep me company. I leaned against the railing of the boat and sighed.
Nothing was the same since He left. I was filled with joy at the fulfillment of His mission and His promises, but I couldn’t help wishing I could talk to Him in the flesh again. We were all sad. We especially felt sad when we were together. Being together without Jesus there, teaching us and sealing something wise and profound into our brains, just didn’t feel right. Saying we missed Him would be an understatement. Yes, His Holy Spirit would always be with us, and I would always be able to speak with Him, but still…I missed my physical Jesus.
John spoke to me quietly, “Are you okay Peter?”
I nodded. “Yes, I’m fine. Just missing Jesus.”
“Who isn’t?” He asked.
I confessed, “It’s not that I feel like He is still in the grave; I know that He is alive and well and that He promised to come again. But, I believe I’ve let my faith weaken without His presence. I don’t feel strong enough without Him here – physically.”
John encouraged. “Jesus commanded us to spread the Good News, baptize, preach, heal and prepare people for His second coming. Don’t get discouraged.”
That was John for you; strong and practical. He was right.
We drew the net up again – empty.
We were just preparing to throw it back out when someone from the shore stopped us. He yelled, “Have you caught anything?”
In my frustration, I wanted to yell back, “What does it look like” but, I refrained. Instead I said, “No, sir.”
He replied, “Cast the net out on the right side of the boat and you will find some fish.”
Obediently, we threw the net out on the right side. The net jerked in our hands and even with all seven of us pulling, we couldn’t get the net back in the boat because of all the fish.
John said, “It is Jesus.”
My heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be. . .but only Jesus could have known there would be fish. My Jesus was here! I screamed wildly and tore off my coat. I dove head-first into the water. I could’ve waited for the boat to get to land, but I wanted to see Jesus now. The water was cold, but it only helped me swim faster. I reached the shore and scrambled to my feet. Jesus was there, smiling at my enthusiasm. He opened His arms and I fell into them. He greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and I did likewise.
Once the others brought the boat in and greeted Jesus, we drug the nets to the shore. We caught 153 fish that day.
It was a beautiful reunion. We hugged, kissed, laughed and talked. No one needed to ask if it really was Jesus – we knew. Our Teacher had come back to visit us.
Presently, a fire was made and I huddled close to dry off. Jesus took bread and fish and fed us breakfast. I put my listening ears on because I knew that He would begin speaking and I would want to remember every word He said.
Jesus looked into my eyes and pointed to the fish, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?”
My heart jumped that He would ask such a question. “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
Then He looked at me with fierce love in His eyes, “Then feed My lambs.”
He asked me again, “Peter, Son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
Greif filled my chest. “Yes, Lord; You know that I Iove You.”
“Tend My sheep, Peter.”
I hoped He was finished, but when He asked the same question a third time, I was deeply grieved. I looked into His serious eyes and thought about all I had witnessed Jesus do. He helped me walk on water, He healed the sick, He gave me faith, He taught me hours on end, He told me to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He saved me, He washed my filthy feet, He commissioned me and He also predicted that I would betray Him three times. On the morning of His crucifixion, I denied that I knew Jesus three times out of my selfish fear. And I was the one that said, “I will lay down my life for You” but at the first test, I denied Him – three times. And now, He asks this question – three times.
“Peter, do you love me?”
I couldn’t answer because I was crying. I wished I could take all those denials back. I would! I would do it different if I had the chance.
He persisted. “Do you love me?”
I sniffed and wiped my cheek, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you.”
He put a hand on my shoulder and said tenderly, “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” He spoke of my death. I would die for Jesus one day. I would be forced to die for my King.
“Peter,” He commanded, “Follow Me.” He said it just like He did when He called me on that first day: The day He promised to make me a fisher of men.
“Jesus, what about John?” I wanted to know if my dearest, earthly friend would die for Jesus too.
He spoke directly into my heart, “Peter, if John dies, or sees my second coming – why does that matter to you? You follow Me.”
No matter what anyone else does, I will follow Jesus. I will never deny Him again. Now, Christ is my life. With Jesus Christ, you don’t commit half-way. He demanded committed disciples. He wanted to make sure that I loved Him more than my occupation as a fisherman, more than I loved my friend John, and more than I loved my own life.
As He left, I decided to give up being a fisherman for good. I wouldn’t miss it and plus, I’ve been specially trained to be a fisher of men and now I have sheep to care for. So many people need to hear about Jesus’ saving grace and I am endlessly talking about Him. Like John once put it, the whole world couldn’t possibly contain all the stories of His glory.