Links Daily Devotional

MISTAKES: Lessons learned in 50 years of disciple-making (Part 11)

“… do you love me?” (John 21:15 NASV)

Do I love Jesus? Do I, really?

Jesus asked Peter this question after an all-night fishing expedition with six fellow disciples that ended with nothing. But Jesus saved the day. He cried out to them from land to where the fish were. And, the crew netted 153 fish in minutes.

I can imagine the scene there on the North Coast of the Sea of Galilee. It must have been a warm, humid morning. Peter was bare-chested. When he recognized the voice of Jesus, he grabbed his fisherman’s jacket and dove into the lake, swimming like an Olympian toward Jesus. I can see him bounding up and down like a Wyoming antelope the last 50 feet.

Why would Peter leave one of his best catches ever and submerge himself into the cold waters? Was it to get a few extra minutes alone with Jesus?

For many years I made the mistake of thinking guilt had motivated him.

Peter had good reason to feel guilt after denying Jesus three times. And not showing up during those last few hours of Jesus’ life.

Oswald Chambers, one of history’s greatest disciple makers, helped me see that it was primarily Peter’s adoration of Jesus that precipitated his plunge. I can see Jesus stretching out his hand to Peter welcoming him when the disciple stepped on shore. Then walking him to the fire, serving him one of the lake fish Jesus had cooked over an open fire. Then after Peter was dry, Jesus asking him, three times, “Do you love me?”

Did Peter know he loved Jesus? We know that he admired him like no other person. He had worshipped him. We have reason to believe Peter dove off his boat to get a few minutes alone with Jesus because he knew Jesus had the answers to the big questions about his future. Like, Am I to return to fishing or does Jesus think I can be a fisher of men? Has my denial of him ruined all chances of being involved with Jesus and his work of the kingdom of God?

“Peter was grieved,” Chambers wrote, “because Jesus said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me.’ Yet he was awakened to the fact that at the center of his personal life, he was devoted to Jesus… it was a revelation to him to realize how much he did love the Lord… there was no need to say, ‘Look at this or that as proof of my love…’

“Peter really did love the Lord,” Chambers continues, “but he did not know it until the probing, hurting questions of the Lord were asked… the Lord’s questions always reveal the true me to myself.”

In golf it’s easy to let brain clutter weigh us down and keep us from playing our best. I made that mistake many a time. I’ve lost sight of the main goal. The target. My best golf was played when my mind was thoroughly set on the target. We can see what we want to do and do it. Golf becomes simple.

Here we are at the Christmas Season. How easy it is to get the disease of brain clutter and lose sight of the Main Reason for this season… our Ultimate Target… the One who loves us, who humbled himself to birth in a Middle East hay-trough that we might have life.

I ask myself today the big question, Do I really love Jesus? Really, do I? 

One day I will stand before him and know with certainty if I did. I am comforted with Jesus’ three questions to Peter. It was important to Jesus for Peter to know that even though he had let him down, Jesus knew Peter did indeed love him.

I suppose I could ask a more important question than “Do I love Jesus?” I just don’t know what it would be.

Jim Hiskey
December 16, 2015
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.