Read: John 21:1-25
John 21 seems to come into my life at important moments. This passage of Scripture led me many years ago from a ministry responsibility I loved to taking a full-time job in my church. Today, it is a new calling to the ministry of Undivided Women and a new job. But like Peter’s calling in John 21, I am walking out of what feels like to me, a season of failure.
I hope the season is at its’ end. But I can’t promise that. I am a fallen human being who is tempted by the things I can touch and see. I truly want all the people in my life following Jesus with a full heart. I truly want a purposeful life filled with ministry in Jesus’ name. I truly want a joy-filled life that pours on other people.
But everyone one of my desires has its’ own distortion. I want to control my family members and those I love. I want a ministry that is respected and blessed by big numbers. I want a life filled with nice things, vacations, and ease of living. My failure comes from a long season of making good things the most important things in my life. Fear over the loss of good things can easily make them the most important things.
All of us can make good desires our most important desires. Once the good desire rises above the desire to trust and please God, it becomes an idol. Anything that helps us rationalize disobedience or obsessively consumes our thoughts is probably an idol.
Our desire for meaningful work can become an idol. Our desire for our family members to be healthy can be an idol. Our desire for a comfortable home can be an idol. Our desire for a better marriage can be an idol. Our desire for comfort and security can be an idol.
Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Most likely Peter was consumed with his own security and comfort. He was the most outspoken about his allegiance to Jesus and the one to fall most publicly.
In John 21, Peter tells the disciples he is going out to fish. If this was Peter’s attempt to remake his life by returning to his past profession, he comes up empty. Without Jesus’ help, there is no fish. Then Jesus asks Peter to cast on the right side of the boat, and the haul is abundant. Peter realizes Jesus is on the shore and swims to meet Him. Jesus is there with a charcoal fire like the one Peter stood around as he denied knowing Jesus.
To Peter in John 21, Jesus asks,
“Do you truly love Me more than these? Do you truly love Me? Do you love Me?”
Maybe Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Jesus more than fishing or security or the other disciples. Maybe Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Jesus more than the other disciples do. Either way, there is always some idol or some “these” that is fighting for first place in our hearts.
The word for love in these three questions changes. The first two questions contain the Greek word, agapao for love. Jesus asks, “Do you truly love Me more than these?” He asks again, “Do you truly love me?” The last question contains the Greek word, phileo for love. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Agapao is an unconditional, steady love. Phileo is an affection-driven love that one might have for a brother or friend.
Peter answers all three of Jesus’ questions with, “You know I love you.” He uses the word, phileo, for love each time. The zealous Peter is humbled. He knows he has fallen short of agapao love, and he may fall short again.
Regardless of his past failure, Jesus reinstates him. He tells Peter to feed His lambs and take care of His sheep. He tells him there will be some difficult days in his future. Peter immediately wants to know what is in John’s future. Jesus answers, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22
Each of us has a personal journey with God. The call on my life to follow will look different from yours. Your call to follow will look different from mine. But one question will be before you and me as we walk this earth. Who will have first place in our hearts?
All of our journeys will include the ordering and re-ordering of what we love.
Jesus asks you today, “Do you truly love me more than these?”
The final day of The Participant's Guide has a song that I don't want you to miss! Please make sure you work through Pages 43 and 44. I hope that this study has helped order what you love. Happy Easter and much, much love!
In your Going Deeper Participant Guide, let’s look at Day 20 beginning on page 43. Complete Look at the Details and Personal Application sections. Then come back here and share your answer to the following discussion question in the comment section below. (You can find the comment section at the bottom of this message. Just scroll down and you’ll see the words “Post a Comment.” Click there and share your responses.) Or, join the conversation on our Facebook Community Group.
"What will it mean for you to put God in first place in your heart in this season of your life?"
I will be posting my responses in the comment section below and on Facebook. I hope to see you there!
Thanks for going on this journey together! #undividedwomen