Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Posted by Erin Posted on 9:13 PM | No comments

Chosen Series: Part 8

We left Peter broken down and crying under the weight of his betrayal. There was no undoing that and there was no forgetting the eye contact with Jesus in that moment, hanging on the cross, dying, and now betrayed by the ones closest to Him...

So Peter, having taken up the chains of shame, slinks off back to the familiar.

In her TED talk, "The Power of Vulnerability", Brene Brown says that "shame is the fear of disconnection." How true that is. Peter, as I have been at times, must have been so overcome with the fear of having destroyed the relationship he'd had with Jesus. That is what we fear in the aftermath of our mistakes, isn't it? That we cannot restore what we've broken? That the people who see our worst can never love us the same as they did when we kept that mess hidden? I would imagine that Peter believed that there was no way he could be the rock that Jesus had said he was. How could he loose anything from the chains of darkness when he couldn't even keep a promise for a few hours? How could the church be built by someone that is so foolish and who bends so easily to fear and pressure? Whatever future he was meant to have, he just destroyed with 4 little words. "I don't know Him!"

So what else could he do? He had no choice but to go back to fishing. Oh, he still hung around with the disciples, as we know from John 20. He was with them when Mary Magdalene came to tell them that Jesus' body was gone. He even went to see for himself.  John says the Peter and the other disciple believed that Jesus' body had been stolen. They believed and then went to their homes. There is no mention of Peter returning to the upper room with the others after that moment. The next time we see him, Peter is fishing. For fish. And Mark says the Angel that told the women to go back to share the news about Jesus' resurrection, said to tell "the disciples and Peter". Was Peter not with the disciples? Did he just need a specific word? I don't know. Nonetheless, Peter went back to what he comfortably succeed or fail in. There were so many factors that could mean success or failure as a fisherman. Maybe the equipment failed. Perhaps the weather was bad that day. But in this, following Jesus, what could he blame his failure on? Who but himself was there to take the fall for things not working out? Perhaps that is what Peter was thinking. "I will never get it right."

So here he is, drifting off into the sea of shame, casting his nets hoping for a good day so he can feel successful at least for a moment. And maybe in the silence of the waiting, Peter is replaying his failure, trying to figure out where he lost it and how to make it right. And the maybe the others with him (Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John, and two other disciples) were trying to build him up the way we so often do with each other when we've screwed up. "Man, don't worry about." "We all said dumb things." "It was a hard day, you weren't thinking right." "It's fine." "You're fine." I don't know about yall, but I hate that response to my sin. It's sin, yall! It's wrong! It's a slap in the face of God! It's not fine. It's inexcusable. Maybe that's what Peter wanted to say. Maybe he was opening his mouth to tell James and John to shut-up about it, when they heard a man call from the shore. "Children, do you have any fish?" "No? Then cast your nets on the right side of your boat and you will find them." Ta-Da! Fish! John recognized the man first. He turned to Peter and informed him, "Dude, that's Jesus!" For some reason, that makes me think Peter was sulking at the end of the boat. It just seems like he wasn't even paying attention to the miracle that was happening quite literally in his lap. But when he hears that Jesus is on the shore, he puts his outer robe back on and jumps overboard to swim to sea. Was that faster? Maybe, since the boat was full of fish, but it still seems a bit crazy. The hope of restoration, even though brief at times, can make a person do crazy things. I mean, John even points out how silly it seemed. He tells us they were only about 100 feet from shore and the other disciples just came in the boat. John likes to point out Peter's crazy moments.

Jesus tells the men to bring fish and it seems, almost as if to make up for his mistake, Peter hops to it with as much urgency as when he cut off the soldier's ear. And as Peter is dragging the net full of fish over to Jesus, there is an invitation to stop striving. "Come, have breakfast," Jesus offered. He broke bread as He had done so many times to provide, for the masses, for the world, and now for the shamed. There is no indication of a conversation during the meal. Were they all just watching Jesus eat, wondering why He had come? Awkward silence. I am sure they loved it as much as you and I do. And to make the moment even better, the silence was broken, not by a sermon to the crowd, but by a question to the denier, "Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?" Notice that Jesus did not call the man Peter, but Simon, his old name. Perhaps a reminder of where he'd come from. Or maybe a little conviction..."Stop trying to run from what I have made you to be. You are acting like Simon...a man who ceased to exist when I spoke a new future over you...Peter." "Simon, do you love me?"

I can't imagine the sting in this question. How long did Peter have to catch his breath before he could answer. "Yes, I love you." Three times this happened. Three denials, three opportunities to tell Jesus face to face that he loved Him. And Jesus shared with Peter a glimpse of the future, that he would share in the likeness of Christ in his death. Death by crucifixion. And Peter, a little frightened by the weight of this revelation, and probably still fighting shame and the fear of being unworthy of Jesus, looks back at John and asks, "What about him?" And Jesus' response? "You don't worry about what will happen to him. I have chosen YOU for this. Peter. Rock."

What hope! What magnificent hope! Jesus never asked Peter if he was sorry or how he would prove his regret. No, the relationship that had been destroyed, as Peter had imagined,  was in fact, as whole as before. Jesus still wanted Peter to be part of His kingdom. Jesus still wanted Peter to represent Him to the world. Jesus was still, always, daily and eternally, CHOOSING Peter...failures and all.

Can you imagine that kind of hope? To know that regardless of how grand a screw up you can be, that there is one who, without even asking you to make up for the messes, chooses you. Chooses to love you, to invite you to be a part of their life. You don't have to just imagine, you know? It's real. Let's receive this. (Erin...receive it.) The God of the universe has chosen you.

Questions for today:
1. Have you been drifting off in the sea of shame with Peter and his empty fishing boat?
2. Has Jesus perhaps been trying to get your attention, calling from the shore? How?
3. Have you had breakfast with the one who has chosen you? Have you let His word wash over you? Have you received the truth that YOU are CHOSEN? If not, what is keeping you from doing that?

Happy Journey!