Unfamiliar Places

“Unfamiliar Places”

Scripture reveals that Jesus made 10 appearances to the disciples and others between the time of His resurrection and His ascension.  Perhaps the most intimate of those appearances is recorded in John 21.  That day began with His feeding some of the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and ended with His personal conversation with Peter.  It seems that it was a lengthy time together and one can only wonder at the gist of all the conversations that took place.

However, we do know about His conversation with Peter.  Yesterday I shared my thought that perhaps Peter went fishing because it was a natural thing for him to do, and it was while he and Andrew were fishing that he had his first conversation with Jesus and began to follow Him.  A lot had happened since that time and much had changed in Peter’s life.  The resurrection of Jesus is not only the “watershed” event of all of history, but it also marked the beginning of an entirely new life for Peter and, of course, all the other disciples.

If, as I surmised yesterday, Peter possibly went fishing because it was a familiar activity in a familiar place where he first became familiar with Jesus, perhaps John 21 marks the beginning of a life of unfamiliar places and responsibilities.  In John 21:18 Jesus said to him:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”  Commentators suggest that Jesus was speaking of the kind of death that Peter would experience.  Perhaps so.  But I am intrigued by the phrase, “. . .  you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished . . . .“    “Used to . . . “ conveys the idea of a pattern, something familiar.  This has to do with the way one lives.  Now, that’s my kind of life!  I love the familiar!  Perhaps, you as well?  Things were about to change for Peter and . . . maybe for us as well.

The 3 questions Jesus asked Peter about his love for Him and this verse point to unfamiliar places and assignments.  Peter was to be thrust into a leadership role hardly expected of one who had so vehemently denied Jesus only days earlier.  Peter, the often caustic and too outspoken one, was to become a leader, one who would mentor Paul, and a symbol of strength in the church.  He would later give us two short letters to encourage those who had been suffering for our Lord.  He would find himself in places not of his own choosing; unfamiliar places where the Lord had placed him.

We all naturally seek out the people with whom we are familiar, the places with which we are familiar, the situations in which we are familiar; and left to ourselves we would enjoy the rhythm and comfort of those familiar  places and people without interruption.  But God is callings us, even as He called Peter, to “Tend My lambs,” “Shepherd My sheep,” and “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Peter responded obediently to Jesus’ challenge.  The question is, “Will we?”

On the journey . . .

Pastor J K

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