“For God so loved the world that He gave …” John 3:16
The apostle Peter was very confident that he would stand by Jesus no matter what the circumstances. In John 13 we read that after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet He told them that one of them would betray Him. Naturally they wanted to know which of them would do such a thing. Peter was certain it would not be him because he would lay down his life for Jesus’ sake. It must have come as a tremendous humiliation to hear Jesus’ response that before the morning he would deny knowing Jesus three times. Peter was determined that this wouldn’t be so. He was sure he knew he wouldn’t fail Jesus.
Later that night while in Gethsemane the servants of the chief priests and Pharisees came for Jesus. Peter still determined not to deny Jesus and to fulfil his statement that he would die for Jesus’ sake, took out a small sword and cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. Imagine Peter’s amazement when Jesus put it right back. At this point all he thought he knew about Jesus fell into a black hole.
Peter thought he knew Jesus; he thought he knew himself. To some degree he did but we can discover here that he didn’t know Jesus as well as he thought and he certainly didn’t know himself very well either. He was willing to die for his idea of Jesus but he had the wrong idea of Jesus and His mission.
We must be careful that we don’t do the same and that we never close the door to understanding more clearly who Jesus is and also allowing Him to reveal more of who we really are to ourselves.
Of course Jesus had a purpose and a favourable outcome for Peter in the pipeline but this unhappy experience was necessary for Peter to arrive at the happy outcome.
Peter really did love Jesus but it took this experience and the cross of Jesus for him to fully realise the extent of that love. After His resurrection Jesus came to Peter again and probed his heart three times with the question, “Do you love Me?” At the third time Peter knew what Jesus knew, he really did love Jesus. The realisation that Jesus knew it too would have been a strong motivation for the sacrificial life Peter lived thereafter.
How did Jesus ask Peter to express that love? The specific ministry for Peter was that of being a shepherd to Jesus’ followers – “Feed My sheep.” The general ministry principle for all of us is that love for Jesus is expressed in sacrificial service and ministry to other believers. Love for Jesus is not self-absorbed, it is others conscious. That was the principle lesson of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.
If God’s love for us moved Him to give His only begotten Son then our love for Him will be expressed in giving ourselves to service and ministry to His people.