Sunday, October 14, 2012
For the third time, Christ asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved. Three times he had denied Christ; now three times Jesus questioned his love. He responded slowly this time, as if weighing the significance of each word in his heart, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep,” Jesus repeated a third time. Only this time, he added, “When you were young, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted; but when you are old, another will dress you, and take you where you don’t want to go.” Then Jesus said, “Follow me” (John 21:15-19, paraphrased).
Nero persecuted Peter when Peter was seventy years old. According to legend, Peter’s friends and fellow believers urged him to flee Rome. He refused at first, but eventually he was persuaded to escape. As he approached the city gate to leave, he saw a vision of Jesus walking into the city. He fell to his knees, worshipping him. “Lord, where are you going?”
“I have come again to be crucified. Follow me.”
Peter turned, and followed where “he didn’t want to go.” He returned to face Nero. When the authorities arrested him, he requested that he be crucified upside down as he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner his Lord had been.
The point of this legend is not to say Jesus truly was crucified a second time. Jesus died and was resurrected once and for all. Rather, the legend reminds us that Jesus identifies with our pain and sufferings so much it as if he is going through them himself. In Peter’s case, the Bible says Jesus’ earlier prophecy referred to Peter’s crucifixion. Who else but Jesus could relate to Peter’s torturous experience? Jesus is the expert on suffering. He knows what it is all about and wants to come alongside us. If there is pain in your life, Jesus understands. If you are hurting, Jesus has been there too. Let him assume your burdens and sorrows in prayer today.
Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.