Pastor Homan’s Devotion for May 13, 2019

Our read­ing for Mon­day, May 13, 2019 is John 21:15–17

15 When they had fin­ished eat­ing, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you tru­ly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”NIV

I guess I would ask the same ques­tion to you and me that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you tru­ly love me?” The ques­tion would not be dif­fi­cult to answer if Jesus had not includ­ed the word “tru­ly” to his ques­tion. I believe most of those who receive my dai­ly word would respond “Yes!” we love Jesus. How­ev­er, “tru­ly” implies a deep­er under­stand­ing of the con­cept of love for Jesus.

Jesus asked Peter this ques­tion three times. An eas­i­er way to under­stand the com­plex­i­ty of what Jesus was ask­ing Peter is to con­sid­er the first of the three times Peter is ques­tioned. The first time Jesus added the caveat of “more than these.” Since Peter was with the oth­er eleven remain­ing dis­ci­ples when Jesus ques­tioned him the com­par­i­son He asked was with his broth­ers. Anoth­er way of stat­ing the ques­tion would be “Do you love me more than your broth­ers whom like you I called and who fol­lowed me through­out my min­istry?”

It is typ­i­cal that we eval­u­ate our worth and stand­ing by com­par­i­son to oth­ers. Peter’s strug­gle was over his obvi­ous denial of Jesus in the court­yard of the high priest after Jesus’ arrest. We know Peter denied being with him and even know­ing Jesus in order to spare his own life. Even though the oth­ers denied Jesus and betrayed him as well through their scat­ter­ing after his arrest, Peter at least had the courage to fol­low after Jesus to see what was going to hap­pen to him. We know he bore no more shame than should the rest of the dis­ci­ples but it was Peter who made a bold dec­la­ra­tion of loy­al­ty and will­ing­ness to die with his mas­ter.

I guess we should be care­ful about what promis­es and com­mit­ments we make for the greater the pro­fes­sion the more damn­ing the guilt and shame when we fail to ful­fill what we promise. When Peter com­pared him­self with his broth­ers he bore a greater shame with­in him­self. This did not mean that his col­leagues belit­tled him for his cow­ardice; his was the bur­den of self-con­dem­na­tion. Have you shared with Peter his despair? I have in much less­er cir­cum­stance failed to live up to my procla­ma­tion and con­sid­ered myself a greater spir­i­tu­al fail­ure in com­par­i­son to oth­ers who fol­low Jesus. 

How do we real­ly know how Jesus thinks of us? Peter final­ly admit­ted his lack of per­son­al assur­ance of faith by plac­ing the bur­den on Jesus say­ing only he knew and only Jesus could pro­vide the assur­ance he sought. No oth­er per­son can pro­vide this assur­ance for us except Jesus but then we do not have Jesus’ res­ur­rect­ed pres­ence to com­fort us. How dare we pre­sume such con­fi­dence! 

We do have the Holy Spir­it to con­firm our accep­tance by Jesus, and we have the fruit of the Spirit’s work­ing in us to ver­i­fy the inner voice of peace. Twice Jesus point­ed to the source of Peter’s and our assur­ance of sal­va­tion. Jesus first respond­ed by request­ing Peter to feed his lambs and a sec­ond time to care for Jesus’ sheep. 

We can wal­low in the despair of our moral fail­ures and spir­i­tu­al inad­e­qua­cy which will only keep us defeat­ed or we can invest our­selves in bear­ing fruit by lov­ing oth­ers for Jesus. When we direct our ener­gies in the pos­i­tive direc­tion of right­eous­ness we will dis­cov­er the evi­dence of the fruit we bear with and through his direc­tion and aid. It is this evi­dence of fruit that when com­bined with the inner mov­ing of the Holy Spir­it that we will dis­cov­er an assur­ance of our worth and accep­tance by God. May you dis­cov­er you blessed assur­ance of faith.