Dispatches From The Holy Land - "Redemption"

[For those who have been following along---I have been leading a group of church members family and newfound friends on a pilgrimage through the Holy Land. The last week has been spent in the Galilee region of Israel---as well as some memorable excursions beyond it]

This week that we have spent literally walking in the footsteps of Jesus has taken our little band of pilgrims on some incredible journeys. Our trip to the "Primacy of Peter" was one of the more memorable sites for me---as it was the last time I made the trip. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to follow Jesus lately and this site spoke to me in a fairly awesome way.

The Primacy of Peter is the traditional site on the Sea of Galilee where this took place:

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 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. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

One of the possible translations of "these" is "these things." What things do I love more than Jesus---or at the very least often put him in place of my heart?

In this moment where Peter is offered redemption (mirroring the very moment of his betrayal) he has returned to fishing---his past. It's telling that he has done this because the very act of returning to what he was doing before he met Jesus gives us a glimpse into his pain and brokenness. He no longer feels worthy to be a disciple and so returns to being a fisherman.

So what in my past has become one of "these things" that I love simply because it's what I am accustomed to?

Peter was oblivious to the transforming power of the Risen Jesus right in front of him. All he could think about was what he had done and not at all how he was being redeemed. "Do you love me more than these things?" Jesus asks. "You know that I love you with as much as I can give right now" Peter replies.

How do I not see Jesus all around me in the present---in this moment? What things are keeping me from experience Christ in the here and now?

Peter had no concept of a future as a disciple. He had given up and resigned himself to an ordinary life---a life that was not full of the abundance that Jesus promised him. It's not that ordinary things were bad---it's that Peter was meant to do so much more than simply spend the rest of his days fishing.

How do I short change myself because I don't look forward to the future with the hope that comes with faith in Jesus? Do I bargain instead for a measure of desperation---desperately believing that if I try hard enough on my own that everything will work out right?

God I pray that you would always remind me of who I am and what I am called to do. I am your beloved. You said so. I have denied you so many times and returned to my old life. I've tried to do things my own way. I have been defined in so many ways by a past I won't let go of and I am so oblivious of my present---what is right here in front of me: The Christ the Son of the Living God.

I look forward to the future as a place where all those things might be better but no in hope---in desperation. And in the doing I find myself hearing your voice speaking to me asking me if I love you---really love you more than these things.

And I do... And I want to... And I fall short... And I am restored... again and again... and again.

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