We come to the end of our series. We are flying today to South Africa where I will be preaching a series of sermons on the themes of Pentecost. (Our home will be looked after by TK and our daughter, Laura.) Pentecost, I believe, empowers us to transcend our human inabilities and to transform our human abilities. One central element in the Spirit’s empowerment is to create a community where the Jesus Creed sets up shop and calls the shots. But, there’s an issue here that lingers over all these discussions. We fail. That, too, is involved in the Jesus Creed. I call it Jesus Creed grace.
Mary, John and Peter made serious mistakes in learning to love God and others: Mary rushing down to Capernaum in a rush only to be told that the word “mother” was being redefined (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35); John in thinking he and his brother — encouraged by mom Salome — were top dogs among apostles (Matt 20:20-28), and Peter failed miserably in Jerusalem while Jesus was being tried (Mark 14).
They failed; Jesus told them so; he then asked them to get back in the saddle. Nothing captures this like the words of Jesus to Peter:
15 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 lambs.? 16 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.? 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 I tell you the truth, 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!?
The call to be restored is the summons to love Jesus again — to restart the cycle of Pentecost-empowering love for God and others.
When Peter gets restored, he sees John and — true to form — Peter has to ask about how long John might live. Now that Peter’s life would not end gloriously, Peter wants to know about John — and we sort of think Peter might be hoping John won’t get to go out in a blaze of glory. None of your business is Jesus’ remark to Peter.
Just follow me, Peter. That’s your task.
Pentecost makes discipleship possible.
[Next series: we’ll take a look at the meaning of “wrath” in the Bible.]