So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me…?” John 21:15
Do you remember how miserably Peter failed his Lord?
1. He told Jesus that he would NEVER allow Him to die, right after Jesus had explained that His whole purpose for coming into the world was to do so. Jesus even addressed him as Satan! (Matthew 16:23)
2. As Jesus was voluntarily giving Himself up to His mission, Peter drew a sword and was rebuffed by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Of all the times to use violence.
So, at the time of this breakfast in John 21, I would not be surprised if Peter wondered if he was even capable of being Jesus’ disciple; having been so unfaithful in His most crucial hour.
But I too am Peter.
As I begin 2017, I’m painfully aware of how I’ve failed Jesus in 2016. I’ve had times I didn’t respond well to those I love. I’ve experienced moments this past year when my ministry was not successful because of my own failings. I’ve seen areas in my life where my own expectations and promises to Jesus were not completed. Bottom line? I have sinned. In doing those things, in a very real way, I have denied Him too.
But here’s the encouragement I receive from Jesus’ encounter with my fellow struggler, Peter in John 21.
Don’t miss how Jesus responds to Peter’s failures. He does not berate Peter, He does not humiliate Peter. He didn’t even ask, as I would: “Okay, Peter what plans do you have so you will not repeat this failure?” -or- “What are your goals to have a better year for me?” No, His question was simply, “Do you love Me?”
That question is so encouraging as I start a new year, because I know when I fail Jesus in 2017, and I will, in one way or another, that He will not berate me, nor humiliate me, nor ask for my plans or goals to do better. He will simply ask me, as he did Peter, “Do you love Me?”
You see, Jesus does not need our promises to try harder this year or our plans to do better. After all, if your resolve to obey God last year did not help you be faithful in every situation, you can be assured your own effort will not make you successful this year.
So, rather than our resolutions, Jesus asks for a re-commitment of our love to Him.
As I start a new year I hear Jesus ask: “Tim, do you love me?” And to that question I can answer confidently, “Yes Lord, I do!”
His question inspires me as I hope it does you. Because when we answer we truly love Jesus, our service for Him in the new year and beyond will be of the quality that He desires.
(Thoughts inspired by Experiencing God Day by Day, Henry and Richard Blackerby)