Friday, June 09, 2006

Through the eyes of the Rock

John 21

...no, not the wrestler! I'm talking about the original Rock...

Anyway, imagine that you and a few of your closest pals are hanging out by the sea. You’ve been decidedly impatiently while waiting on Jesus to come back for you. Disappointedly, you finally say, “Ah, forget this! I’m going fishing.” The rest of the group decides to play "follow the leader" and join you in the boat.

You spend the entire day out there in sea. Yet you don’t manage to catch a single fish! For the life of you, you can’t figure it out. After all, you're one of the best fishermen to be found anywhere.

As dawn turns into dusk, your anger mounts because (1) You feel like you've been ‘Punk’d’ by Jesus and (2) you haven’t caught a single fish all day long. Your thoughts are interrupted as you notice someone waving at you from the shore. Your eyes strain as you try to focus on the person, but you can't really tell who it is. You then hear a faintly audible voice from the mysterious figure saying, "Friends. Have you caught anything to eat?". You reply “Uh...no...” The person then tells you to toss your net on the right side of the boat. Unenthusiastically, you obey. But then, much to your surprise, the net becomes so full with fish that you can’t even drag it in to the boat! At this point, you realize that the person on the shore is Jesus. In your excitement, you put on your clothes and dash across the water so that you can be the first to see Him. In doing so, you leave your friends behind as they toil to handle the catch that you originally decided to go after.

Once you make it ashore, you find that Jesus had already started cooking breakfast. Man! Does it smell good! He tells you to bring some of the fish (that He helped you to catch) and join him to eat. You respond obediently. You go back to the boat to help retrieve the fish (153, to be exact). How that net didn't tear to shreds is anybody's guess...

As you and your friends eat with Jesus, there is piercing silence all around. Though Jesus has appeared to you all on two other occasions after He rose from the dead, you still struggle as to whether or not this guy is really your Christ. Is this the same Christ who, only a few days earlier, was hanging from a cross, bleeding profusely, and crying out in pain? Is this the same Christ who we wrapped in linen and buried deep into a tomb? However, none of you have the courage to ask this guy if He's really Jesus. Maybe you’re just really hungry and don’t want to mention it. But, more than likely, you're just afraid of getting chewed out for your lack of faith. So, instead you sit and eat in silence.

Once you’ve finished eating, Jesus turns and looks you directly in the eye. Emotions take the better of you because you don’t know why He’s looking at you that way. Even more interesting is the fact that the look on Jesus face has a mix of deep sadness and deep love. While you’re trying to figure out the message behind his facial gestures, He asks you, "Simon, son of John; do you love me more than these other disciples?” What immediately strikes you is that He called you by your birth name, not the name He gave you. But, on top of that, you feel like you’re getting called out in front of everybody. "Why He’s asking me this?", you think.

Then it dawns on you. You’ve frequently boasted about how you would always be dedicated to Jesus. In fact, on at least one occasion, you were even snobbish toward the other disciples, suggesting that you were the greatest among them. So, with a damaged ego and with careful thinking you answer, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” But, you don’t fully answer the question. He didn’t ask you whether or not you loved Him. He asked you if you loved Him more than the other disciples did. You fail to pick up on your mistake.
Jesus responds to you by saying, "Feed My lambs.” Admittedly, this boosts your confidence a little. Jesus is asking you to feed the Word to His lambs – the weaker, "baby" believers. "So, I'm the greatest of the disciples after all", you think to yourself.

Then, inexplicably, Jesus gently asks you, “Do you love me?” This time, however, you can feel a little retort in his tone. At first, it sounded like Jesus was boosting you up. Now it sounds like He's tearing you down. As you did before, you get disturbed and confused by the questioning. Why is He challenging you like this in front of your friends? Is He trying to put you down? Are you getting cut from the team? You remove those thoughts from your head because you're sure that Jesus isn't that type of person. "There has to be some logic behind all of this," you tell yourself. So, you once again reply, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”
Without even blinking, Jesus then replies, “Feed My sheep.”
OK. What kind of crazy game is this?! First this Guy tells you to feed lambs. Now He's telling you to feed sheep. Where the heck is He trying to go with this?! You think to yourself, “I’m really not feeling this. I wish that He would get to the point.” But, you come to understand that He is now challenging you to be a shepherd to His sheep; a leader for the more mature in Christ.
Before you have the chance to respond, Jesus asks you one more time, “Do you love Me?” Aaah! The frustration! You can't take it anymore! Just as you’re about throw in the towel and shout “uncle”, a bunch of thoughts go flying through your head. Your mind goes back to a few days ago when -- at a rooster’s sound-off -- you were reminded that you denied knowing Jesus three times.

You finally realize what this is all about. You finally realize the true extent to how you've deeply scarred Jesus. The same Jesus who:
  • Called you to be one of His disciples
  • Taught you about God’s love
  • Allowed you to witness His Transfiguration
  • Gave you a new name
  • Built His church upon you and gave you the keys
  • Suffered a brutal death for your sins
  • Overcame the sting of death by resurrecting
  • Returned to you, as He promised

This same Jesus is now directly opposite of you.

As it turns out, Jesus wasn’t trying to hurt you or embarrass you after all. You only felt embarrassed because of what you’ve did to Him. Now you were face to face with Him. You are facing Jesus, your Christ, as a shameful and weak person. You realize that all Jesus was trying to do was to make sure that the words that came out of your mouth were sincere this time. He wanted to make sure that you realized the danger of making promises, without understanding the ramifications of your statements. Finally, He also wanted you to know that, regardless of everything that happened in the past, He still wanted to use you.

From that point on, Peter moved forward and never turned back. He eventually carried out his duty of being the Rock upon which the church would be built. To this day, he is one of the greatest Christians in history.
After imagining this scenario, ask yourself how far you are from being Peter. How many of us have been so spirited in our views of Jesus that we talk about how much we love Him; only to realize that when troubles come up, we weren’t nearly as devoted as we thought? As Christians, we must learn how to count the cost of following Jesus before jumping in headfirst. For example, let's look at the apostles (from the Book of Martyrs):
  • Andrew - crucified
  • Bartholomew - beaten, then crucified
  • James, son of Alphaeus - stoned to death
  • James, son of Zebedee - beheaded
  • John - exiled for his faith; died of old age
  • Judas (not Iscariot) - stoned to death
  • Matthew - speared to death
  • Paul - believed to have been beheaded
  • Peter - crucified upside down
  • Phillip - crucified
  • Simon - crucified
  • Thomas - speared to death
  • Matthias - stoned to death

Following Jesus doesn’t come without a price. Will we get killed for serving Him? Probably not. But, chances are, we will have to endure some sort of persecution, pain, or hurt as we make the choice to live for Christ. That said, we should be careful about what promises we make to Jesus. He’s the kind of person who will hold us to our promises. He doesn't take them lightly.

But even when we do screw up and put our feet in our mouths, the grace of Jesus will still be with us…

…just like it was with Peter.

- ACL

9 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

ajbendaña said...

Well, i believe that the closer people get to god, the more they are tempted by the devil, evil, etc. I think it all fits in to what you are saying with your post. The more spiritual you get the harder the tests get. Tests can come in many different shapes, sizes,thougts, people, emotions, etc. For example, i am getting over a very long and great relationship. My tests as i saw them were coping with what god presented to me at the time. He sent me into situations were if i were to deviate from what was right or felt right, I could end up a broken person. But I realized that however painful this may be, its part of gods plan for me. Accepting that fact made it so much more clear and less subceptible to temptations. But what really got to me is how much more temptations were thrown my way after i accepted that fact. its like it increase 10 fold. I, to say the least was astonished. But my unwavering commitment to what i believe is gods plan for me has made it all possible. I felt i should have been a broken person for at least a few months, but i feel like a new person. I dont feel sorry for myself, i feel free. I think that your post went along those lines, except that those people you mentioned (deciples) had higher prices to pay than most of us ever will. Point of the post is people need to face thier fears head on, in order to overcome them and live in peace with themselves.

Andre said...

Hey, hey! Long time...

I stopped by your myspace page. Not too shabby...

Now, to your post: On the one hand, I'm sorry to hear about some of the tests that you've been battling with. It's never good to hear about another person struggling and dealing with difficulty. But, on the other hand, I'm not so sorry that you had to deal with them. After all, your difficult and painful experiences help you to generate a lot of MUCH NEEDED insight as you journey your way through life.

The way I see it, the devil comes at you during two different periods of your life: when things are going well and when things are going bad. This can only mean that...well...he's around us ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, trying to make us miserable. It's his job to make our lives difficult with hurt, the occasional misery, and -- ultimately -- temptation; and he keeps himself pretty busy. I mean, he had NO PROBLEM tempting Jesus. What makes you think he won't come after us?

But, I think you should feel better knowing that the devil's silly games only push you closer to God. Even when the world throws all sorts of bad things at you, you've been made free in the Spirit.

Thanks for blessing me with your comments...

Mavs in 5.

rhynoman said...

Great post! I felt like I was right there eating fish with Jesus; getting questioned by Jesus, receiving a charge from Jesus.

When you think about it, especially, after the last couple of points you raised, we really ARE no different that Peter was. I guess the only question is: can we all face up to our sins and our faults and become great ambassadors for God?

Powerful post, brother!

ajbendaña said...

Mavs in Five, Heck no!!!!!!!!!! WE will bounce back. Just wait. But yea, i linked your blog on mine. I like the way you approch your subjects and bring the reader in. Plus it only helps that the topics are worthy and relevant. So I think I am providing the few people that read my blog a good service.

Diane said...

Like it or not, we are human, and the disciples were, too. After Jesus was out of sight for a little while, they went back to their "usual" lives. Then, Jesus appeared and spoke to them, charging them to go out and work for Him again. He gently rebuked them for their failures, and encouraged them to go out and do better this time. Sound familiar? It should, because as His disciples in this day and age, it's a scenario that's repeated daily, and sometimes multiple times in one day. We get our instructions from Jesus, sin and fall back on our old ways, and the Holy Spirit convicts us and shows us where we've failed, and The Word charges us and encourages us to put our sin behind us, try to do better, and go out and live for Christ to the best of our ability. Then the cycle starts all over.
Do we love Jesus? Okay, how MUCH do we love Him? It's put up or shut up time, every single day.

This is a great post, Andre, and I love your analogies. This message is just as relevant today as when Jesus taught it over 2000 years ago.

Thanks for the Bible Study. I feel like I've been to CHURCH. :-)

joanne said...

Andre, you have NO IDEA how much of a blessing you are to me. Posts like this give me a new way of looking at my relationship with God.

But, even in cases when we don't see eye-to-eye, the disagreements we have cause me to go back to the Word and study a little harder. Your thoughts and your messages was the very thing I needed to re-energize my spiritual walk. Thank you!

lorna said...

God has already used you so many times to encourage me....I hope that you feel the love and encouragement that so many of us are beaming your way.

As it says in James: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors".

Thank you for reminding me what it means to following Christ.

Andre said...

@ rhynoman: I agree with you about Peter. I think it's interesting that we often vilify Peter for being the loud-mouthed, swearing, Jesus-denying, 'fraidy cat. But, I often wonder what I would be like if I walked a mile in his shoes.

How many times do we do some of the EXACT same things that Peter did?

Thanks for your comments.

@ Ajbendaña: Did I say "Mavs in 5"?! I think I meant Mavs in Four!

At any rate, I don't mind if you drop my link on your page. I'm flattered. Maybe I'll grab the attention of one of those Miami hotties. Just a thought...

I also dropped a link to your page. Your topics (minus the Miami Heat nonsense) are pretty intriguing and thought provoking as well. Be easy...

@ Diane: I really appreaciate your profound insight. As I mentioned before, it's really easy to identify someone else's failures in their walk with Christ, but it's not nearly as easy to finger our own faults. This can be unnerving sometimes because -- in most cases -- we're JUST LIKE the person we're looking down on (in this case, Peter).

I'm glad that you enjoyed this one.

@ joanne: The way I see it, this all just a fellowship of the saints. Sure, it's not in a physcially interactive fellowship, but it's edifying to me nonetheless. Thank you for your emails and for your comments. You've blessed ME more than you know...

@ Lorna: I'm humbled by your kind words.

Thanks, by the way, for your James reference. It's one of my favorite books in the entire Bible. Simple; to the point; and insightful.

As that passage says, I try to make it a point to challenge the way we look at things that we THINK we know. Growth, to me, comes when you're able to reassess the way you think about the things that you thought we just SO ABSOLUTE.

Thanks for your comments.

Geogia girl said...

Hi Andre,

What are remarkable post! This one had a really profound meaning for me. Thanks!