So many times in my own life, I have lost patience with myself. So many times I have been so broken in myself that I have doubted myself and my commitment to Jesus. I have had to come the reality that it’s the Lord’s commitment to me, not the other way around that keeps me. If the Lord has not given up on Israel after all of this time, why should I feel so special that he would give up on me?
In that I am reminded of Peter. When I was coming back to the Lord I was still struggling with the whole restoration deal. I was still dealing with the guilt and shame that I had brought upon myself in my own personal Ziklag. I had thrown myself back into service to the Bride of Christ the local church. I was a part of an all black congregation called Anointed Word Ministries mainly because my best friend, J (who was also my Platoon Sergeant), attended there and I knew that I was going to be knit to him beyond the Army. I ran with this guy for the last six months I had left in the Army and needless to say it was glorious.
One Saturday night we had Pastor come over to the church to test out the new wireless mic we had rented out and were considering buying. We had it set up, I was going to play guinea pig preacher and preach something for us to hear out the mic system, Pastor was going to sit as one of the congregation and J was going to man the sound board. When I was given the cue to speak, I don’t think any of us in the room was ready for what the Lord had to say to the three of us in that room, myself more than anyone.
I opened my Bible to John 21, in particular the part that talks about Peter. Peter in this story had not only seen Jesus die, but he was still struggling with the fact that he had denied and blasphemed the name of Jesus three times. He was giving up, he was going back to his life of fishing, he had failed God, he had failed Jesus, and he had failed himself. It was this man who said that if it meant he would die with Jesus, he would never deny him. Peter was an epic man. In that when he succeeded, he did so epicly, and when he failed, it was just as epic. Peter was not a man given to halfway doing things, he did things with gusto, with zeal, and with fervor. This was the man who drew a sword and struck the ear of Malchus in defense of his Lord (John 18:10). This guy did not play! I can imagine Peter as one who would charge hell with a bucket of water if Jesus would only say the word.
But the problem with epic people, is when they fail, they condemn themselves the hardest. They are the worst judges of themselves. Of all the people Peter expected to fail in the time of trial when the shepherd was struck and the sheep were scattered, he would have counted himself as the one who would stand. It is said in Luke 22:62 that he wept bitterly after the rooster crowed and he remembered what Jesus told him. It’s easy to look over this but think about it, take sobbing and amplify it a little bit and you might have a picture of Peter’s anguish. He didn’t just deny Jesus once, or twice, but THREE TIMES! He even cursed the very Lord he swore to defend and did violently in John 18! You would be hard pressed to find someone who failed harder than Peter in that one moment.
This very man was going fishing. It wasn’t recreation, it was his old life. It was what he was doing when Jesus found him and told him that he would make him a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). Just like before, Peter found himself completely dissatisfied, a complete failure. He couldn’t even make it as a fisherman! He was fishing all night and caught ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! Once again Peter was back in the same place, face to face with his failures, not only as a disciple, but now as a fisherman!
Then the voice! Children, do you have any food? Peter, and his brothers, with the same answer as they gave their Lord the day they met him, noted that they hadn’t caught anything, Jesus, being true to form, gives them the very same remedy he gave them the day he called them out, Throw the net over the other side of the boat, and lo and behold, the very same thing that happened before happened again! The catch was so great that they couldn’t even keep them all in the boat! I can just see the memories coming back to Peter! He was probably thinking, “I haven’t seen anything like this since… JESUS!!!!” John, looking to Peter confirmed it saying, It is the Lord! Peter being an epic man, didn’t bother helping the other disciples bring the fish in, he didn’t even bother waiting till the boat got to land, he threw on his outer garment and jumped in the water and swam out to meet Jesus. There was only one thing on his mind and fishing suddenly didn’t matter so much!
The story goes on with Jesus already cooking breakfast and when the disciples finally get the boat to shore he tells them to throw a couple on the grill. Then Peter comes to his senses and helps his brothers pull the net to the shore. They get all that done and they eat breakfast with the Lord. Keep in mind that this was the third time that they have seen him yet Peter had never dealt with his sense of failure despite seeing the Lord twice before. When Jesus came there, he had a mission, It was Peter’s turn.
Simon, do you love me more than these? I can imagine the question burning in Peter’s heart, YES I LOVE YOU JESUS! “Then feed my sheep” says Jesus. Then a second time, “Simon do you love me?” Then Peter responds differently “Lord YOU KNOW I love you”. I imagine him saying that because he knew that the Lord knew that he loved him, yet the reality of it had yet to dawn on Peter’s heart. An epic man, epicly failed, yet still epicly condemned. Jesus, for the third time, asks Peter, “Do you love me Simon son of Jonah?”, I can imagine Peter’s inner grief being reminded of the three times he denied Jesus on the worst day of Jesus’ life, face to face with his failures yet one thing remained, “Lord you know all things, you KNOW that I love you!” Same response from Jesus, then feed my sheep.
For Peter’s epic failure, he needed an epic Savior. For the work that Peter did on the earth, he needed an epic Holy Spirit. The man who caught two loads of fish that could barely fit in the boat the times he encountered Jesus and was called out as a fisher of men, was the very one who on the day of Pentecost preached and brought in a haul of men so great that the saints could barely contain what was brought in, Three thousand souls in one day! Not even Billy Graham, John Wesley, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, or any other revivalist brought in that many in ONE DAY! When you look at Peter, you see an epic man who did epic things. His very shadow healed people! Jesus loves epic men and women. It was Peter who received the epic revelation and was the human to make the epic proclamation that Jesus Christ was the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
So I want to encourage all you epic people out there. The go getters, the ones who go for broke, Jesus is a Savior for guys like you! Wholehearted abandonment is what we were made for and there is no greater calling for any human being, let alone those of us who go for broke and give it everything we got, even if our zeal is off at times. We serve an epic Savior!
Father, we thank you that you are an epic God, who created epic people, and gave us an epic Savior! Reveal your Son to us in a mighty and powerful way that we may glory in Him when we epicly succeed and that he may comfort us when we epicly fail. Who has more zeal for your house than you? Who has more zeal to see your purpose fulfilled on the earth than you? Who is the most epic man in all of human history? It is most certainly You Jesus! Thank you Jesus, Amen!