I'm the worst sometimes at reading through the Bible for the simple reason of being able to say that I've read it; or I read it because I'm looking for something specific. In doing so, I know that I miss a lot of important truths.
God is God. The Bible is God breathed. I don't believe that there is anything in the Word that doesn't have a reason for being in there. God knew that this would be all that he had left to leave behind and teach his people. He knew that every lesson, sermon and Christian ideal would come from this particular book. No doubt he knew the importance of what it would say.
Do we dare believe that he would tell stories just to tell them? Or word things the way he did just to make them more entertaining? I don't believe he would.
There is an amazing musical out there called The Rock and Rabbi. If it ever comes through your town I encourage you to see it. The music is amazing; the story - wonderful. It tells about the relationship of Jesus and Peter - told through story telling and music. It's extremely powerful.
For those of you who may need a refresher, Peter's name was originally Simon but Jesus renamed him Peter which meant "the Rock". And as you'll recall, it was Jesus who said to Peter "Upon this rock, I'll build my church and even the gates of hell cannot prevail upon my church."
Some say that Peter was Jesus' closest friend.
While at the last supper, Jesus informed Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed that night. Peter, loving the Lord with all of his heart, assured Jesus that it wouldn't happen. Well, we've all heard the story - Peter did deny that he knew Jesus - three times.
Imagine what Peter felt as soon as he heard the third rooster crow. Don't you know he replayed the three conversations in his mind where he'd denied Jesus?
I can't even imagine the grief he must have felt. Here Jesus had given him the name, "The Rock", and after three years of following him, and loving him, it took three unimportant people asking him if he knew Christ, for him to deny him. Disappointment in himself would be an understatement of epic proportion. He was probably devastated.
Judas wasn't even as close to Jesus as Peter was and he killed himself after he betrayed him. The enormity of the situation was not lost on Peter and as far as he knew, he'd never have the chance to make things right - Jesus was about to die.
The story of course, continues. Jesus was crucified.
Three days later - Jesus rose from the dead!
Jesus appears to Mary.
Jesus appeared to the Disciples - including Peter - behind locked doors.
Okay, so what do you think Peter was thinking? Do you think he might have been ashamed to look at Jesus? After all, Jesus had been right. Peter was probably relieved that they were in a group of people so that Jesus wouldn't bring it up. I know I would have been.
Jesus appeared to the Disciples again - including Peter - while they were fishing.
Jesus appeared to the Disciples - including Peter - over breakfast. The Bible says, and I quote: "This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead."
Back to The Rock and the Rabbi and the narrator comes to a particular portion of the story that each and every time I hear, I cry. I'm going to write the scripture word for word as it is in the Bible. Let's see if you realize what (I believe) Jesus is doing for Peter.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
Again Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Three times, Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to negate what he'd professed three times just a few days before. Three times Peter denied knowing the Lord, and now Jesus was allowing Peter to proclaim three times that he loved him. Amazing. What a loving Savior!
Jesus could have gone on about the business of the church. He could have skipped right over the conversation, but he didn't. There was an importance to it and there's an importance to it being the Bible.
I don't even know if Peter got it. It says he was upset that the Lord didn't trust him. But what I see, and what I saw when the Narrator said the words during the show, was that Jesus gives us second and third (and more) chances to affirm our love for him. No matter what we've said and done in the past, he let's us come back and show just how much we truly love him. He let's us try again. I'm so grateful for that.
Peter was going to be the vessel that God used to start the church. But Peter was also loved by Jesus simply because he was Peter. Jesus didn't just want Peter to have faith so that he would move forward with establishing the Kingdom. Jesus wanted Peter to know that he was loved and that their relationship was still solid.
It's about relationship. It always has been and it always will be. Although Jesus may have big plans for us - for him it's still always about our relationship with him. Above all else - he wants a relationship. Praise the Lord!