COLLECT OF THE DAY
Almighty God,by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
St. John 21:1-14
Reflection on the Gospel Lesson, John 21: 1-14. In this Gospel reading, the risen Lord asked Peter 3 times, Do you love me more than these? 3 times the Lord said, “Feed My sheep”. Feed them in the pastures of His Word. The number 3 was quite significant to Peter as Peter denied Jesus three times. Then after the Lord’s Ascension Peter does not want to go to the Gentile Centurion, Cornelius’ home because Peter would eat unclean animals. 3 times a sheet is lowered with unclean and clean animals, the Lord telling him to eat. The name Peter means “Rock”. It takes time for many of us “to get it through our thick heads”! But Peter did not seem to have a hard heart. After Jesus walked on the water, Peter almost commanded the Lord and the Lord invited him: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14) Then we he saw the waves and the wind, the storm and Peter began to sink. When he saw the storm around the fire as Jesus was being taken to trial, likewise he sank. A good heart is not enough. Pr. Johann Gerhard made a crucial distinction regarding Peter for our edification:
“We should also contemplate how Peter came to such a fall (i.e. his denial), in order that we avoid the same. He was entirely too daring (presumptuous)–meaning that it all depended upon a good heart and good intentions. When he noticed others who were not like him in this matter, he held them in disdain. Thus he experienced how very little we are capable of if God does not sustain us. Therefore we should indeed not rely on the strength of our own faith, or on our good intentions. God’s power does it, and it alone must do everything.”
I think Peter was the first evangelical-born-again ”I made my decision” Protestant pietist. I would love a congregation of those kind of Peters, but I know I am more like Peter when he saw the waves and the Rock sank. He was a good guy, but even our goodness, apart from God, also needs Christ’s redemption, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness every step of the Way. It is my good heart and good intentions that can wreak the greatest damage in congregations, families and nations. A good person will boast, I live for others. C. S.Lewis said, you tell who that person is by the hunted expressions for those round about. Again, see Simon Peter and look to Jesus Christ. Don’t look to your life for salvation, because the Law points out to us and our hearts and souls our sin. Peter found that out after he denied Jesus three times, the arrested Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter wept bitterly. Peter finally knew his good heart was not enough, his decisions for Jesus did not bridge the gap between himself and the Lord, only the Lord’s hand, His Word did save him…again and again and again! He is risen!
Back in Luke 5 and the miraculous catch of fish, when the boat begins to sink because of the haul of fish, Peter jumps into water and falls before the Lord, “Depart from me O Lord for I am a sinful man.” First note, that Jesus did not answer Peter’s prayer in the affirmative! Peter would discover the depths of his sin and the greater depths of the forgiveness and mercy Jesus is, the heart of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. After the resurrection, Peter would forget this as recorded in the New Testament but the Lord brought Him back to Himself in true repentance. And in this scene from John 21, Peter once more throws himself into the depths, impetuously, impulsively, because he loved the Lord, for by His love Peter, you, me and everyone we meet has been redeemed. Now may His Word open their hearts to their Redeemer and by faith be saved knowing the depths of His truth and grace for sinners and also for me and for thee as well day by day. We pray…