John 21:17–23 ‘Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ (v18)
Peter, who denied Jesus despite earlier protestations of undying friendship (Matt. 26:33), meets his risen Lord for breakfast and experiences God’s overwhelming blessing (John 21:6). What were Peter’s emotions ahead of this reconciliation? Jesus presses Peter once again on the depth of his love. Finally, as with all of us, Peter must acknowledge that only God knows the degree of his love. Our protestations of love are measured by the evidence of the decisions we make. At least Peter is an open book and doesn’t scurry around putting the best spin on his worst moments, or seek to hide them from public scrutiny.
Christian behaviour is no beauty pageant, but a gritty attempt to put God’s commands, clearly set out in the Bible, into practice. It can require some honest chat, just like that between Jesus and Peter. Again, Peter questions Jesus’ words about his future, trying to work out their meaning in the present, rather than entrust himself entirely to God’s provision (vv. 20–21). The Gospel narratives consistently teach us that the Christian life can only be lived in the moment. Our instinct is to look beyond today towards all our tomorrows, yet we can only ever influence and address what is in front of us now (Matt. 6:34). It’s encouraging that the rock on which Jesus builds His church struggles in the same way we do. We are as solid, and as worried, as Peter; this encourages me, and I trust it does you too.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Jer. 29:4–14; Lam. 1:16–22; Luke 6:37–45; Phil. 1:3–14.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: Where and how have you messed up in your Christian life? Have you successfully made up with Jesus?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, I choose to bring my failures to You and renew my friendship by trusting in Your grace and provision. Amen.’