It’s not how you start, but how you finish…
So Jesus was trying to have a deep conversation with the crowd and disciples that were following Him, but they kept turning the conversation back to shallow things. (John 6). It’s like trying to talk to a kid about fire safety when he’s playing video games, only these weren’t kids. If I didn’t know better I’d say Jesus was actually trying to offend or test them by talking about things they didn’t want to talk about, and most of them left….
He asked His disciples if they wanted to leave too?
Enter Peter. He normally only removed one foot from his mouth to get the other one in there, but he actually got this one right!
Everyone else was asking themselves “Should we go?” “Should we leave?”, but Peter said “Lord, TO WHOM shall we go?”
It’s more about where you’re going than IF you should go.
Loyalty. If you leave her, to whom are you going? If you leave that job, which job are you going to? If you leave your school or your church or whatever, WHERE are you going? Not IF you should.
So have you been disloyal? To your family? To the people you love? To the God who loves you? What happens now?
Again, enter Peter…
The night Jesus was taken away to be crucified Peter betrayed Him 3 times. Jesus warned him only hours before exactly what Peter was going to be tempted to do, and he did it anyways. What a massive failure of a man! His master died not between two friends but between two criminals. What guilt was crushing Peter!?
Jesus rises from the dead, and over the period of some time, appears to His followers 3 times. Imagine seeing the One you both loved and betrayed and He never says a thing about your failure. 3 times. 3 times Peter failed in one night.
The 3rd time Jesus appears He says something to Peter about it. He says: “Do you love Me?” Peter says “You know that I love You”. 3 times He asks and 3 times Peter answers. But don’t miss the play on words in the original language…. 1st time Jesus asks: “Do you (agape) love Me?” (Agape – unconditional love). Peter responds “You know that I (phileo) love You.” (Phileo – affection, friendship). Did you catch that? Peter’s being pretty honest here. It’s hard not to admire that kind of honesty.
Peter is confronted verbally by his failure and betrayal. Jesus is saying “Look, I love you unconditionally, but do you love Me the same way?” This is a tough talk. Peter is honest and responds “You know I don’t love you the way I should” (my translation here). Twice this happens.
Then Jesus says “Do you (phileo) love Me?” Peter responds that that’s all he’s got.
WOW! What happened?
I think Jesus is acknowledging that Peter (and you and I) will never be able to love Him the way He loves us. We want to, but when the pressures of body and soul ramp up, we still betray the One we love.
Just bring what you’ve got to Jesus. No more facade.
I don’t care what you’ve done or how you started the race…
It’s how you finish.
Oh, and the next time Peter preaches, 3 thousand people turn to faith in Jesus.