...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.
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.”
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.
- 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.