Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Promise Of Faithfulness

We all like to read promises from God right? Well one that Jesus gave Peter might have made most of us swallow hard and quake in our sandles. But I believe it was the most encouraging thing the Lord could have said to Peter, because Peter really did Love the Lord that much.

That Peter denied the Lord three times the night He was betrayed is a commonly told story. Jesus foretold that Peter would do this in Luke 22:34 and we read about his denial in Luke 22:54-61

The Lord restored Peter and gave him an incredible ministry as an Apostle. The recounting of his restoration is beautiful in the English translations but more so, even deeply graceful in the Greek. When I imagine myself in Peter's shoes it moves me tears.

We read it in John 21:15-19
15 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.”16 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, “Tend My sheep.”17 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. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
It's beautiful, Peter had denied Him three times, and for this the Lord restores him with three statements of love. But it's much bigger, deeper and graceful than just that. The Greek reveals it to us.

In verse 15 Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. The word for love is the Greek agapao which is linked to God's perfect love Agape which is a selfless complete love. Peter responds with "yes Lord, You know that I love You" But the word he uses for love is the Greek phileo which is much more of a friendly love. Peter is admitting that while he loves the Lord, he obviously doesn't love Him the way he should.

The second time they both repeat the same words in the same question and answer.

Now the third time the Lord asked him if he loved Him. The Lord uses the same word that Peter has been using, phileo. And Peter wept because the third time He asked "Do you phileo me?"

The Lord stepped down to where Peter was. He went to get Peter. Just like He does for those who will trust Him today.

The depth of restoration goes beyond even this wonder. Peter had said that he would not forsake the Lord, that he would willingly go to prison or die with Him. Luke 22:33 Yet he abandoned and denied the Lord that very same night.

So here is where the full depth of Peter's restoration is shown. After having given Peter his mission in ministry for his life, the Lord goes on to tell Peter of his future faithfulness to the promise he had made to the Lord in Luke 22:33. In John 21:18-19 The Lord tells Peter that right now he goes where his heart wants to run, but in the future he was going to die on a cross much like Jesus had. The Lord was telling Peter, you will be as faithful in the future as you want to be right now. It was the Lord's promise to Peter which did come to pass, unlike Peter's promise to the Lord which did not.

If you have repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then He has made the very same promise to you through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6, and Romans 8:29 He has promised that He will complete the work in you. No matter what the starting point is, He will complete it.

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1 comment:

Bruce's Musings said...

Kevl, I was interested to find you and I are the same age. I have a blog where I post many things, but seem to post my thoughts on spiritual living most. I really appreciated this article on Peter. I am a fan of Emily Dickinson and in one of her poems she states that upon arriving in heaven Jesus would tell her what Peter promised. I was completely adrift at that line. But she may very well have known some at least of what you wrote about. Thanks!

Bruce &