HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
AT THY WORD LORD!
Undoubtedly the most critical question in our relationship with God is whether we will surrender our lives to him. Jesus Christ poured out his life for us and in a display of this sacrifice, He assumed the position of the lowliest servant, carrying out the humblest of all jobs. He washed his disciple’s feet. It is interesting to observe Peter’s sharp reaction to the Lord’s utter humility.
In John chapter13:6-8:
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
How typical of Peter and of humanity at large to spurn at Christ’s loving service. Yet, we have nothing to do with Christ unless we first accept his atoning blood. Peter just could not accept that the Lord, whose glory he had glimpsed on the Mount of Transfiguration, would die the death of the cross. He couldn’t see that the road to glory passes through the valley of death, and that exaltation follows humiliation. He felt embarrassed to have his dusty feet and sins exposed to the Master. Eventually, however, the thought of separation from the Lord broke through his defences and convinced him to yield to the Lord’s cleansing.
Later that night when Jesus affectionately bid his disciples farewell, Peter strongly objected saying, and we read these words in the record of John 13:37-38:
Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
We know that Jesus’ warning proved true and that Peter denied the Lord. Why did he quail? He was still bound by the fear of death. Satan himself, daring to tempt God over Job, said, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, he will give for his life” (Job 2:4). The enemy knows how we fear for our lives and uses that to weaken our testimony. Many, worship to be seen of men, but their hearts are so corrupt and bound in sin that there is no conviction in their hearts about the true and living God.
So where does a man get the courage to defy death and follow Christ till the end? How did Peter overcome his timidity? Was it when he entered Jesus’ tomb and found it empty? No, because we still see him behind closed doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Was it through seeing the resurrected Christ? Only momentarily. As long as Jesus was with him, he had courage. However, when he left his side, he again shrank in cowardice. If seeing the resurrected Christ made the difference, then why did Peter return to the old fishing trade instead of engaging in the business of fishing men into the kingdom of God?
Just before the Lord’s ascension, we find Peter at sea with the others, struggling to catch fish but to no effect. Does this remind you of a previous scene? The Lord found them exactly as he first met them.
Here is the record in the Book of John 21:5-6:
Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
In fact, they caught as many as 153 fish, and still, the net didn’t break. There is more to this than meets the eye. Remember that when Jesus first met Peter, he told him to cast his nets but in that instance, the net broke. Peter too broke under the pressure of the events leading up to the Lord’s crucifixion. Something tremendous took place thereafter that would enable Peter not to break under pressure but triumph in his ministry. However, the Lord Jesus had one last question for Peter.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
The Lord reiterated the same question twice and received the same reply, followed by the same charge. Clearly, the Lord was calling Peter to a higher level of love than he’d ever lived before. How could Peter being so human responds to such divine love? And if the love of God is to keep his commandments, how could Peter live up to Christ’s high expectations of him and fulfil his pastoral ministry to feed God’s sheep?
The answer lies in what Jesus promised his disciples before he departed from them.
These last words are very important to the believer, John 14:16-17:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth … shall be in you.
They were to receive another encourager who would be with them forever. When they had Jesus bodily they could draw on his power as long as he was beside them. Whenever he departed, their power would wane. From now on they would have Christ’s spirit sown within them. Only then would they be able to love God’s way because they would have the fortitude of his love constantly within their hearts “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). On the day of Pentecost, the love of God was shed abroad in Peter’s heart. The great inner transformation occurred and Peter became the man that God had called him to be. Before Pentecost, he cowardly denied the Lord. Now being filled with the Holy Spirit, he courageously declared Christ’s resurrection to the face of the Lord’s executors. Later, when he was commanded not to speak in Christ’s Name, he boldly replied, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” and that “we ought to obey God rather than men.” Even when the disciples were beaten, they rejoiced that “they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name” (Acts 4:20, 5:29, 41).
Before Pentecost, Peter was behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. After Pentecost, he was put in prison for turning the world upside down by boldly proclaiming the resurrected Christ. God released him from all his prisons and empowered him for ministry. Peter proceeded from strength to strength because he “had not received the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He loved Christ in the highest way. He fed the flock of God and fulfilled his ministry. He becomes a great example of one who loves Christ by keeping the charge made to him. Later, he charged the elders of the church with the same.
1 Peter 5:2-4: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
When the Chief Shepherd appears and asks us, “DID YOU LOVE ME?” what will our answer be? Will our works prove our love to him, or will they testify against us? Are we afraid for our lives? Jesus is our LIFE, ETERNAL LIFE. Do we feel inadequate to accomplish our God-given duty? Christ through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit will enable us to “fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Let’s love Him as Peter did!
We often sing the song O, how I love Jesus but do we with a clear conscience mean the words as we sing along? This is the time for us to make amends and move forth to the next level.