Serving in the Kingdom: Do you love me more than these?
In my teaching preparation I again reread the 21st Chapter of John. It is as powerful to me as years ago. I then heard this passage read and the command of Jesus “Feed my sheep” came into my heart. I was truly baptized in the Holy Spirit—my life changed—I became a new person.
This is a story of fish and bread and Jesus and the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples were back. They had been here just weeks before. Jesus had led them up a hillside to a high place and seated them there with him. On this hillside they sat in a position of authority which flowed from Jesus. The hillside was created by God and given to his chosen people. They had ties to the fishing industry of the Sea of Galilee. The presence of Jesus interrupted these ties…their lives changed-they became different people. Here Jesus took the bread and fish of the group…gave thanks to God and they distributed this gift to a multitude. The multitude was “filled”.
They were now back without Jesus…without Judas…without money…without authority…but with a sense of danger. They had been told to wait and (likely in discouragement) had elected to start over…back to the old life. The Last Supper was over and they again fished. The night of their labor was fruitless. Then Jesus again directed them, they again obeyed and they again became fishermen for Jesus. They now come to the Last Breakfast. Jesus again provided and they again were “filled”
Just as before, Jesus asked a question. Then it was “where shall we get the bread to feed these (the people of God)”. They now knew the answer to that question. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the manna in our journey through the wilderness. God has provided.
Now it was, “Do you love me more than these?”
When I really heard this question there were many “these” in my life. “These” were my dreams, my attitudes, my pride, my fear, my shame, my weakness. Strangely, these were my loves…and Jesus wanted me to love him more than “these”. The love I then felt was such that I overcame my love of “these”. My life has changed and I am different, not out of duty, not out of hope to earn salvation (after all I am getting older), but because I love Jesus. I obey Jesus and reflect that I am in God’s image and that my presence reminds others that God is present to those with healthcare needs.
I write of this because yesterday (Halloween day) I was “tasked” with acquiring candy…and yes I shop at WalMart (just as I eat at McDonalds). The Halloween costumes were shoved in the aisle at the entrance (there seemed to be little discussion of or excitement about All Saints Day occurring) and the Christmas “stuff” was out waiting for the Christmas carols to begin.
It would seem that “fishing season” is almost upon us.
Advent is soon to begin.
We should remember that Peter warmed himself by a fire and denied Jesus three times.
We should remember that later Peter could warm himself by a fire with Jesus, be fed, become “filled” and exclaim his love three times.
We should remember that in both instances Jesus loved Peter.
We should remember that when Peter accepted his love he became changed.
How will we prepare for Advent?