“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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch our your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Now there are many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:15-19, 25
Peter, the rock upon which Jesus was to build his church, was a flawed being. Prior to this passage, he had denied knowing Jesus three times before his crucifixion and had been ashamed to sit with Jesus when he revealed himself to the disciples after his resurrection. Yet Jesus knows that Peter is to be the foundation of the church, and, his faith in Peter never wavering, Jesus commands Peter to follow Him.
Following Jesus is never easy – as Jesus Himself says, it requires us to follow where Jesus directs our steps, knowing that we will often be called to allow someone to “carry you where you do not want to go.” In Peter’s case, this ultimately meant his crucifixion as well.
While it is unlikely (though possible) that we will be martyred for our faith in this age, we will be called every day to let the Lord lead us into conversations that are uncomfortable with people who perceive the Gospel as a hostile book that infringes on their lifestyle. Some of your friends, in fact, may feel this way about God’s word.
Yet above all, God’s word is love; and if all the books of all of things He did could be written, “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” In the same way, if the world knew of the ways in which God acted out of love – not only in the miracles that He performed while walking the earth but also in His death upon the cross that has set His multitudes of followers free from the wrath of sin – the world itself could not contain His love.
What a wonderful story we have to share with the world, despite our human flaws! This is the story of the only perfect man to walk the earth, who set His people free and entrusted the spread of His promise to generations upon generations of people like you and me, people who are deeply flawed but who are also given absolute grace by God.
May you and your friends and family see the joy and freedom in allowing God to direct your lives, and may you be a part of the grand story that the world cannot contain – the story of a grace far too great for this world.