2 Samuel 19:11-40; John 21:15-25; Psalms 119:160-168; Proverbs 26:24-26
NT: “When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs,” he told him. A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Shepherd my sheep,” he told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. After saying this, he told him, “Follow me.”” (John 21:15-19 CSB)
When the going got tough and it seemed like his life was in danger, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. After breakfast that morning on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus needed to talk with Peter and find out where his heart was. Jesus asked Peter, do you ‘agapao’ Me – which is unconditional covenantal love. Peter responded that he had ‘phileo’ for Jesus, which means that he loved Jesus like a brother. Jesus asked the same question a second time, and Peter responded in the same way. Finally, Jesus asked Peter, do you phileo Me – and that really brought Peter’s betrayal to the surface. Not did Jesus ask him three times, but the last time, Jesus was even questioning Peter’s brotherly love. Even though Jesus was probing Peter’s heart, he was also letting Peter know that He trusted him at the same time. Each time Jesus asked about Peter’s unconditional love, He also entrusted Peter with the care of His flock. He knew more about Peter than Peter knew about himself – and called Peter up higher to a life of complete obedience born out of love. Jesus knew that if Peter committed to follow Him, Peter would follow Him steadfastly, even unto death. The key to Peter’s faithfulness would be Peter’s willingness to follow Jesus out of his unconditional love for His savior and Lord. What was true for Peter is true for us. Do we agapao Jesus? If so, we need to follow Him before any others.
Psalms: “Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart fears only your word. I rejoice over your promise like one who finds vast treasure. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your instruction. I praise you seven times a day for your righteous judgments. Abundant peace belongs to those who love your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. Lord, I hope for your salvation and carry out your commands. I obey your decrees and love them greatly. I obey your precepts and decrees, for all my ways are before you.” (Psalms 119:161-168 CSB)
The psalmist wrote about being persecuted… but the persecution didn’t matter in comparison to the abundant peace he found while following the Lord’s word. Though persecution can be frightening, the psalmist had a greater fear (honor and respect) for God’s word. So persecution and “terrorism” did not sway him from God’s word, will, and ways. Once Peter was filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit, the same became true of him. By a dedication to God’s word and the filling of the Holy Spirit, the same can be true of us as well.