August 20 - Forgiveness

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20 - John 21:15-25 - Forgiveness

A few days ago, I told you how much I love Peter. I identify with that man in so many ways ... mostly in the ways that he gloriously screws things up, but also in the way that he desperately wants to show his love for his Lord, Jesus Christ.

I can't imagine anything more devastating than the moment that Peter realized he had done exactly what Jesus said he would do and that he had actually denied knowing the one man who offered him everything. His heart had to have been broken in that moment as all of his failures came crashing in around him. He probably remembered every single conversation, every time that Jesus had to rebuke him and discipline him.

After Jesus' resurrection, Jesus finds the disciples, but singles Peter out and asks three times, "Peter, do you love me?" In the Greek language, there are three different words for love: agape, phileo, eros. In the NIV translation, Jesus asks the first two times, "Peter do you truly love me?" With the added word 'truly' they are translating from the word 'agape.' This is a deep, abiding love ... the love between a father and son, the love that transcends mere humanity. Peter responds each time with the word 'phileo.' It's as if he really doesn't understand the depths of the question that Jesus is asking. He keeps telling Jesus that he loves him as a brother would love. Finally, Jesus allows that to be the question and the last time He asks, He says to Peter, "Do you love me with brotherly love?" Peter responds in the affirmative again.

Jesus offers us an incredible love ... a love that transcends anything we can know. Will we accept that love? Or will we act as confused as Peter was and offer back a limited, brotherly love ... a love that we offer each other.

Jesus' love for us was sacrificial, giving of Himself completely and totally. Everything was sacrificed so that we could know the love that the Father has for us. What will we return to Him.

Before I leave the Gospel of John, see the words that Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19, "Follow me." Jesus had promised Peter that He would make him a fisher of men if he would simply leave his nets and follow Jesus. At the very beginning of His ministry, when He was calling His disciples, Jesus said, "Follow me." At the very end of His ministry on earth, He called one more time. "Follow me."

Lord, I will follow you.