Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Three Times

After just experiencing the Easter season, I've been reflecting on the number three. We know from Scripture that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. The Trinity is made up of three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we know the story of Peter, the disciple who denied Christ three times....as Jesus predicted.

I have a soft place in my heart for Peter. He was always the outspoken disciple. The one who would question things, be bold and possibly say things other disciples might be thinking but afraid to utter. Surely a man with this personality wouldn't deny the One who called him to follow? But, he did. And not just once, but three times. Jesus predicted Peter would deny him and he vehemently disagreed. Peter, in his strong and bold way, said he would never disown Jesus...even more emphatically he'd die before that would ever happen. Oh how his words would come back to haunt him as he did deny Christ three times. My words do too at times when I claim Jesus as my Lord but rarely place Him in the driver's seat of my life. I can hear Him say to me, "Rose, I want you to trust Me, but I know tomorrow you won't." And I reply, "But Lord, You KNOW I trust You. You have parted the Red Seas of my life, and done miraculous things. I would never distrust You." Then I wake up the next morning and before the birds chirp out my window, I've already had moments where I fret and worry over the day forgetting to trust in the One Who is the Ultimate Holder of all of my days. Yes, Peter, I know how you feel.

After Jesus' resurrection, He appeared at times before He ascended to Heaven. Many theologians would say those appearances showed His Love to assure His Followers the ultimate plan for His Coming. One such appearance came at the Sea of Galilee. Some of the disciples were there fishing, and one of them just happened to be Peter. They had a night that most fishermen dread...a night with nothing caught, zilch, zippo. That morning when Jesus appeared to them, they didn't realize it was Him as He said "Have you caught any fish?" Sadly, no. And Jesus instructed them to cast their nets out and they could barely pull the nets in from all the fish they caught. Immediately, John knew it was the Lord. This was the prelude to Peter's restoration. Jesus was setting the stage. Just the way He does in our lives. He blesses us in a big way to show us His Presence, then loves us though we be so unlovable.

Jesus asked them to come, sit and have breakfast. I love that line. He has just said the word "Drop your nets" and had these disciples haul in the largest lug of fish they'd seen and He calls them to come be with Him. He's not a Savior that pours out the blessings and says "Enjoy! Catch ya later!" (pun intended) He is a Savior that wants to walk with us through those blessings. And breakfast was going to be where Jesus assured Peter He loved him..because He knew Peter needed the reassurance. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" And Peter replied, "Yes, Lord, I love You." And Jesus called him to serve Him by saying "Feed my sheep." I just noticed recently when reading this that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times. The same number of times Peter denied Jesus. It's as if Jesus was restoring Peter for every denial made. With every question "Do you love Me?" came Jesus' assuring to Peter that He loved him too. With every reply "Yes, Lord, I love You" softened the heart of a man who failed His Lord but wanted to be His servant. Every day I hear the Lord ask me "Do you love Me?" and I answer, "Yes, Lord." And even in those times when I don't trust Him, don't follow Him, waver in my faith in Him, He still says "I love You, do you love Me?" That is a love that never fails, never ends, never gives up. For Peter, Jesus asked three times. For us, He's asking us that every day of our lives.

Peter did serve faithfully. I love the passage in I Peter that describes a godly woman as one with a gentle and quiet spirit. I've always believed that Peter modeled that very trait after his own wife. A woman, who I have to believe, balanced his bold, outspoken ways with her gentle words, quiet spirit and loving soul. A model of what Christ was to him when he was so unlovable.

Historians note that Peter died a martyr....crucified upside down on a cross...for Christ. He followed Christ even unto death....and there is no denying that fact.

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