It strikes me, as I read through the gospels, that Peter had a devotion to Christ...that perhaps went beyond that of the other disciples. Maybe? At least the impulsive nature of his words and actions made him stand out from the crowd on a number of different occasions during his three years with Jesus. The morning that the LORD appeared to His disciples on the beach (after His resurrection) was no exception. Peter was in the boat with the others, he had returned to his fishing. He had denied Jesus, abandoned his friend in the hours of His greatest need, and what would Christ still want with him anyway? He was a failure of a disciple. But, that foggy morning, as Peter recognized his Rabbi standing on the beach beakoning to them all once again, he, with characteristic reckless abandon, jumped into the water and swam the 100m to shore. The others followed in the boat.
What has caught my attention these last couple of days is Jesus question "Peter do you love me (He even adds, 'more than these')?"... And we read that Jesus asked him three times.
And then... at Peter's desperate attempt to convince Christ that he did indeed love him, Jesus tells him that one day he is going to suffer...he is going to be led where he will not want to go, he will be handed over to death, ...but he says, "Peter, follow me".
And what strikes me...is that Jesus knew that the ONLY thing that would enable Peter to follow Him to the end...would be Peter's LOVE for Him. I think Peter knew Jesus love for him more deeply than the others because of the grace He was experiencing that morning on the beach. For he had failed miserably in his committment, "Lord, even if all abandon you, I will not." But yet Jesus, singled him out, and called him again. "Peter, do you love me...? Come what may...but "follow me". Jesus knew that no other motivation would last! It would only be love that would compel Peter to follow the LORD faithfully to his death.
Paul says in 2 Cor 5:14 "for Christ's love compels us..." I have been thinking, reflecting on my own life and observing the lives of others...that if it's anything else that compels us...approval, pride, fear, competition, insecurity etc... it will fall short. We won't make it to the finish line. 'Only love compels to the death. Life is hard. Opposition is huge. Circumstances will happen in all our lives that will defy all discipline, determination and conviction. Love keeps burning when everything else disintegrates in an anshen heap.' (Beth Moore). Love will be what gets us up again after falling. Love will stand the test, the trial.
And Jesus here, believed in Peter. He knew that there would come time after time when Peter would have to answer that question again, as Christ's words would echo long after He was gone. "Peter do you love me?" And Peter would say... "yes LORD, you know that I love You." In suffering, in pain, in doubt, in fear, in lonliness, in heartache...."yes LORD, I love you..."
Jesus believed that Peter would make it to the end.
And Jesus believes that I will make it too.