There is a crazy story after Jesus is raised from the dead. He appears to the disciples while they are fishing and then calls them over to the shore so that he can fry them up some fish tacos on the beach. This story has always struck me as being so completely...ordinary. Mundane. unimpressive. I mean, Jesus just conquered death! Yet, he was jonesing for some fried talapia? Shouldn’t he be out doing a speaking tour? No, to Jesus resurrection meant reconnection. Even in it’s most slow and normal ways.
But something else was going on during this seaside brunch. Jesus singles out Peter and has a little heart to heart with one of his best friends:
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to hi1m the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep... After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” John 21:15-19
It’s easy to read this story and miss the gigantic amount of symbolism and significance. Jesus repeats his question to Peter three times and allows Peter to recommit his allegiance to Jesus three times. Jesus responds to Peter’s commitment with a new calling to lead the disciples, three times. This is not because the writer John loved repetition (papyrus was not cheap in the first century). No, each of these times was a direct undoing of the three times that Peter betrayed Jesus before his crucifixion. This was a moment of reconciliation for Peter back to God and it represents for us the possibility for our own relationship with God to be reconciled and made new.
How to step into New Life + God
1. Have breakfast with Jesus
I mean this just as much literally as I do figuratively. Jesus set aside time to slow down and converse with Peter one on one. Individually. This was an invitation that Peter had to accept and one that we can accept as well. What if just once this week you set aside some time to get away from your normal routine and made space to talk with Jesus? This story teaches us that Jesus did not love us just enough to die for us. He loved us enough to come back from death and make a way for us to come back to him. (note: it doesn’t have to be with fish for breakfast. Cereal or coffee will do just fine.)
2. Know that Jesus’ resurrection means something specific to you
It could have been enough for Peter to just see Jesus raised from the dead and see the events that followed and known that he was all good with God. but instead, Jesus took the time to address the specific way that Peter had betrayed him. Jesus did not want Peter to know he was forgiven, he wanted him to be restored. This is why Jesus ends this moment by repeating his original call and invitation for Peter to follow him and to ‘feed his sheep’ as a leader of the church.
Whatever way you have specifically been living outside of God’s intention or whatever way you have betrayed Jesus, as we all have, there is just as specific of a restoration and redemption waiting for you in the new life of resurrection. Allow Jesus to speak that specifically to you. You are not only forgiven, you can be restored.
3. Follow Him
Live as if this is true! There is a way to live as if this is untrue. We can live as if the resurrection has no effect or impact on our relationship with God. What if this week you paid attention to how you are living like this? Where in your life are you living untouched by this new life? Maybe in your prayer life or in your study of scripture, you are living as if your relationship with God is still severed and broken and distant. To do this would be to pass on the invitation to be reconciled with the living God. Instead, hear Jesus’ call to “follow him” straight to resurrection; straight to New Life.
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Jonathon grew up in six different states across the Western United States. He made his way to Southern California to attend Vanguard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. Currently, he is pursuing a Master's of Divinity Degree at Azusa Pacific University where he also works doing campus ministry with college students. Jonathon is passionate about discipleship to Jesus and innovation, especially when those two spaces meet. He aspires to encourage people to live well-curated lives of purpose and passion. You can find Jonathon living in his beloved city of Costa Mesa, California with his amazing wife, Cyndi. Oh yeah, and he is a HUGE Raiders fan.