Three Days To Go

Like twelve, three has so many possibilities, it’s hard to narrow this article down to one Biblical use of the number. The magi gave three kinds of gifts, the God-head is three, Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus took three disciples — Peter, James, and John — with Him on special occasions like the transfiguration (where they saw three glorified persons) and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (where He went before His Father three times, asking if He could possibly bypass the suffering ahead of Him).

Instead of any of these — as good as they are — I want to mention something else. After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent forty days on earth, showing up in the least expected ways. One such was an early morning when Peter had decided to hang up his ministry mantle and go back to fishing. He took some of the other guys with him — his brother Andrew most likely, John for sure, and probably his brother James.

All night they fished and netted nothing. On their way back to shore they spotted Jesus cooking fish on a charcoal fire. Apparently they didn’t recognize Him right away. He told them to throw their nets back into the water on the right-hand side of the boat and they’d make a catch. They complied and caught so many fish they couldn’t haul them into the boat. At that point John recognized Jesus.

Peter, as impulsive as ever, dove into the water and swam for shore. The others followed in the boat, dragging the net filled with fish. When they arrived, Jesus told them to bring some of their catch over to His fire. So they hauled in the fish — 153 of them that didn’t tear the nets — cleaned and cooked some, and had breakfast with the risen Christ.

Afterward Jesus and Peter took a walk, and this is were the three comes in. Three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, phrasing it a little differently each time. Do you love me, in a self-sacrificial way, more than you love these — presumably referring to the fish Peter had decided to go after. Second time, Jesus merely asked, Do you love me in a self-sacrificial way? The third time, Jesus changed the verb. Do you love me in a brotherly-kindness way, which was actually the answer Peter had been giving Him from the start: You know I have brotherly-kindness in my heart for You.

Each time Jesus gave Peter instructions, and it had nothing to do with fishing. In the end He said, follow me. And by the way, Jesus added, you’re not going to die a free man.

What about John, Peter asked. Not your worry; you follow me, Jesus answered.

From this encounter I think there are some important things we can learn about the Lordship of Jesus — in fact, three particular points. 😉

1. Being imperfect doesn’t disqualify us. I imagine Peter wasn’t able to force out the words, I love you sacrificially, because he’d once declared his willingness to die with Jesus, then proceeded to run away when Jesus was arrested. When he got up the courage to sneak back to see what was happening, he denied he knew Jesus, even cursed to convince those making the accusation. How could he ever again declare his willingness to sacrifice for Jesus? He most likely didn’t believe himself capable. But Jesus knew the power of the Holy Spirit that would be coming into Peter’s life, and He knew the Father’s forgiveness He had bought with His own blood. Peter was not shelved because of his sin, as egregious as it was.

2. Following Jesus isn’t dependent upon what He’s doing in anyone else’s life. Peter wasn’t to measure whether or not he was on the right track by looking over at John. He was to keep his eyes on Christ.

3. Following Jesus doesn’t come with promises of ease and success, the way the world measures success. Sure, Peter preached a powerful sermon at Pentecost and became one of the pillars of the church, but he was poor (he said so to the lame beggar who he healed) and despised by the men of influence. He was imprisoned and eventually killed for his faith.

In light of this last point, some may wonder why anyone would want to follow Jesus. We’re pretty used to asking in our culture, What’s in it for me? And if we don’t think there’s enough added value, we’d just as soon pass.

But that’s the point. Jesus isn’t someone we add into our life as if we need to squeeze him in along with all the rest of what we’ve got going. Our boss is important, the in-laws, the buddies at the ball park or bar, the wife of course (or husband), and why not add in Jesus. He might give me a little of that Tebow magic. Or the peace everyone talks about at Christmas. Or joy. Who doesn’t want a little joy?

Jesus doesn’t “work” like that. He’s not a genie or a Magic 8 Ball. He’s a person, a sovereign person, who requires us to recognize Him for who He is.

We come to Him and we follow Him because we recognize He is Lord. He alone gives us access to the Father through the blood of His cross. He alone can present us to Him as holy and blameless and beyond reproach.

For some of us, we’ve tried it our own way and we’ve come to the bottom. We know, regardless of what the pundits say, that the power isn’t in us to get where we want to go. What’s more, there’s an end rushing up towards us and we don’t know what’s next. We certainly don’t want to go forward alone. Except, it seems that’s the way it works. Unless Jesus is true and He really will never leave us or forsake us, unless He really does have an answer to the dominion of darkness that overshadows all of life.

Truly good news — the announcement of Christmas. Jesus is come and He is Lord.

Published in: on December 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm  Comments Off on Three Days To Go  
Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: