By Jem Harris
If you have been following Jesus for any amount of time, there is no doubt you have aligned yourself with a bible character or two. You’ve found your soul sister in Esther, or maybe you are a Mary, a Martha or maybe a Paul? Well it wasn’t too long ago that I was smacked in the face by my biblical counterpart and it wasn’t the one you’d ever choose for yourself. I discovered I’m a Peter.
The rash, overly passionate, die for you one day, deny you the next, Peter. The man who dares to walk on water but sinks at the first sign of trouble. The eager beaver more concerned with status than the work of the Kingdom. I’ve rolled my eyes at him in Sunday school, I’ve judged him in my adult years. In the past I have almost spoken of him with slight condescension and a touch of pity. I wish I was an Esther, or give me a Dorcas, I’ll deal with the awful name, but Peter?
But there’s no ‘denying it’, I am a Peter (see what I did there?), and if we are honest, we all have a little Peter in us. When I had this realisation about six months ago, I was preparing a gospel message for a youth camp and my disappointment soon ended in a puddle of beautiful tears as I read, with more meaning than ever before, the passage in John 21 where Jesus restores Peter.
Only days prior Peter has denied even knowing Jesus three times. I can only imagine how sheepishly he would have approached his risen friend. And Jesus instead of rebuking, instead of admonishing, restores Peter by asking him three times, “Peter do you love me?” As Peter answers “yes” three times Jesus responds, “then feed my sheep”. In other words, ‘Peter we are good, I know your heart and I forgive you and I still trust you to fulfil the purposes I have set out for you.’
My reluctant Peter heart bursts with emotion at this beautiful restoration of this precious relationship. At the beautiful restoration of my precious relationship with my Jesus.
As we now sit on the other side of what has been a very different Resurrection Sunday for all of us being in isolation, I can’t help but think how much more impact Jesus words to Peter should have on our hearts.
As we have been stretched in close quarters with our families, as we have buckled under the financial strain and as we attempt to push against overwhelming anxiety, we have never been more aware of our need for a grace that would withstand all our failings. So how much more should these restoration words speak to us this year?
Our overwhelming need and reliance leads us to a greater understanding of the gift of Resurrection Sunday, the gift of restoration and the call for us to continue to ‘feed his sheep’. No matter how many times we have messed up this week, yelled at the kids, taken that packet of toilet paper we didn’t really need, or given into frustration when kindness was needed, he asks us “Do you love me?” Our humbled Peter hearts whisper ‘yes’ and He calls us to continue His work in this trying time and feed his sheep with whatever it is He has placed in our hand for such a time as this.
Jem Harris is a wife and mum of two girls, with a passion for sharing the gospel and spurring on and encouraging women in God’s call and purpose for their lives. She pioneered the women’s ministry at Life Point Christian Church in Rothwell 7 years ago. Jem’s passion for communication through preaching and writing is continuing to be worked out through her passion project Her Armoury; an instagram community and podcast acting as a platform for encouragement and hope to be offered to women in our region.
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