All He Wants

After my last post, my dear husband remembered something he had just read in a book by Charles Swindoll called Jesus: The Greatest Life of All. The book is discussing Peter and the following passage:
John 21:15-22: 15When 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.”
16Again 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.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Here’s an excerpted/paraphrased portion from the book:

Peter, whom Jesus named as literally the Rock, was seen time and time again as anything but stable and unwavering.

Right before Jesus tells Peter how he will die, Jesus asks him a question, three times: Do you love me? In English the question looks exactly the same each time, but in the Greek it does not. The first time, Jesus says, “Peter, do you agape me? (love me wholeheartedly, commitedly)” Peter replies, “Lord, I phileo you (love you affectionately, warmly, the love of family and friends).” The second time the exchange is the same, with Jesus asking Peter if he loves Him on a deeper level, but Peter, having denied Christ three times and failed in so many ways, feels that he can’t possibly love Jesus in this way, so he replies the best way he knows how. Each time, Jesus tells Peter to tend His sheep. Peter I’m sure is undergoing an internal struggle, for what Jesus is asking for is not just affection, phileo, but for commitment, agape, and who is Peter to provide that, given his track record? Then, finally, the third time Jesus asks, he says, “Peter, do you phileo me?” And Peter says, “Yes, Lord, I phileo you.” Peter had his own ideas about what a leader should look like, and he did not see how he fit into that picture, so he hands all that he can offer to Jesus, his phileo, as if to say, “This is all I have.”

And in reply, according to Swindoll, Jesus essentially said, “That’s all I want.”

After Jesus tells Peter how he will die and asks him to follow Him, Peter still isn’t quite there, for he asks about John, the disciple Jesus loved. Even then, he was comparing himself to others, and if he were compared to John, Peter would most certainly come up short, for John had been nothing but steadfast and faithful through all that Jesus experienced. But did Jesus focus on John and belittle Peter? No, of course not. He said, with infinite patience, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that you. You follow Me!” There it is. 3 simple words: You follow Me. Peter “faltered when he took his eyes off Jesus and turned them to comparison” (270). “Jesus’ final command is best translated, “You, Me keep on following!” Not John. Not any other great man. Not even your own lofty ambitions…Let your passion become a passionate pursuit of Me. And as you follow, the sheep will follow.”

3 lessons from Peter’s life:
1. When the Lord offers an opportunity to transform futility into fruitfulness, be open to change. Be careful to avoid interpreting circumstances as indicators of God’s will. As you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. (page 271)

2. When Jesus plans to move you in a new and challenging direction, expect a period of deep soul-searching. Jesus called Peter out of his humiliation and failure to a love relationship with Him. (271)

3. When the Lord makes it clear that you’re to follow Him in this new direction, focus fully on Him and refuse to be distracted by comparisons with others. John was responsible for John and Peter responsible for Peter, and each were to do one thing: follow Jesus. (272)

It doesn’t matter if all I have is a broken vessel; all he wants is all of me, and when He gave all of Himself for me, who am I to withhold from Him? May He give me the grace to focus on His face and not be swayed by the sin of comparison.

One thought on “All He Wants

  1. Dr. Moore at Southern preached that passage when we visited…don’t you love know God has to tell me things repeatedly through various means? Thanks Erin 🙂PS- We’ll be driving through Jackson on Friday and then again on Monday. We won’t have a lot of time, but we were planning on stopping at the Lifeway for a few minutes while we waited for Beth to get finished with class. Are you so super busy I can’t get a hug from you?


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