My Journal for Today: Wow! This is a passage with which I have deep personal empathy and identity.
Peter’s response to the recognition of His thrice denial of Christ, which is recounted in today’s passage, as well as in Luke 22: 61, … especially after a long series of self-driven behavior (see Matt. 26: 35, 40 – 41, 51 – 52, and 69 – 70), shows the long-suffering patience our Lord has for believers who fail Him, even repeatedly (and are you, like me, saying “Amen” right now?).
And I love the passage in John 21: 15 – 19 [please look that one up and meditate on its significance], which probably best illustrates Christ’s infinite patience, love, and grace as He helps Peter be restored into fellowship with his Lord, along with a charge to move forward in his (Peter’s) relationship with Christ. Jesus patiently and lovingly, in the John 21 passage, brings this fallen warrior into a healed and restored fellowship with his Lord with the charge from the Good Shepherd to go and feed His sheep [which is a charge to fulfill Peter’s calling in ministry]. Could there be a more poignant and powerful description of just how much the Good Shepherd loves His sheep and is willing to do all it takes to keep them close to Himself so that they (we) can grow and thrive?
This is a living example of the truth of 1st John 1: 7, 9; and it should give hope to all of us who claim Christ as our Savior. When we’re willing to return to the Good Shepherd, with dirt on us from our encounters with sin in our nature, He is fully willing to cleanse us completely and to allow us to be restored of strength and direction. That was the lesson from the parable of the “prodigal,” wasn’t it? Well, somewhere along the path of our discipleship as Christians all of us have failed our Lord, by commission or omission. But we still, from that moment forward by confession/repentance, can be like Peter in the John 21 passage [have you taken it in – fully? … please do!]. We can receive God’s grace and walk in repentance with His Spirit giving us His direction and power. We can deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (see my oft cited passage: Luke 9: 23).
But as with Peter, it takes our recognition of our sin or separation from the Shepherd … AND our willingness to return to Him in repentance so that Christ can (and will) be able to impart His blessing and fill us with His grace. Only with this enabling grace can we fulfill the admonition of Paul in Phil. 3: 13 – 14 … to move forward toward the prize which awaits us in glory, shining God’s light for others to see our Lord’s love from the darkness (see Matt. 5: 16).
Where are you, my friend? Have you been in the darkness? Do you need to come into the light, … to repent and be restored today? If so, go back, … run into the arms of your Abba Father and be restored by the Good Shepherd, who will say to you what he said to Peter, … “Go, and feed my sheep.” And with the cleansing of character that comes from repentance and renewal, you will be able to do just that, … shining Christ’s light though your gifts and good works for God’s glory.
My Prayer Today: I am restored in/through You, Lord! Amen
Special Blogger's Note: It’s a special day for yours truly – my “re-birthday.” It was 28 years ago TODAY that I was, like Peter, allowed to repent and be restored from an angry agnostic who had lived in habitual sexual sin for over two decades and was seeking spiritual strength and renewal into my now life, almost three decades later, as an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Perhaps you can see why I identify with Peter so much. And any of us, as lost souls or backslidden believers, in need of repentance and renewal can run to our Prodigal Father, and receive the restoring love He has waiting for us. If you need that love, I pray that you will come to the Good Shepherd, our Abba Father, running into the open arms of the loving and merciful Good Shepherd and hear Him say, "I love you; ... now go and feed my sheep."