Sunday, April 16, 2006

Follow Me

Note: This was to have been written and posted on Easter, but life got in the way (taxes, dirty dishes, and Easter dinner). I'm posting it on Monday, but backdating it to Easter. Shh, don't tell.

He had been witness to it all.
He had seen the empty tomb.
He had seen his Risen Lord in the fear-filled upper room.
He had seen the marks left by the crucifixion.
He had heard the words,
Spoken by one who had been dead,
And was now alive.
“Peace be with you.”

Peter shared in the unbelievable joy
Of knowing that Christ had been raised.
But he had no peace.

Peace did not exist in the heart of one
Who felt himself to be a betrayer.
His heart held shame, anger, despair.
But no peace.

He stayed with his friends
Because he could do nothing else.
He felt useless, as he had
When Jesus had first called him
When he had first left his fishing boat.

Not knowing what else to do,
He went fishing.
He would have gone alone,
But his friends would not allow that.

They fished, but caught nothing.
The nets were empty,
Just as they had been on the day he had been called.
He was useless. Purposeless.

The sun was rising.
They saw a man on the shore,
Who told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat.
Fish in abundance.

John recognized him first,
“It is the Lord!”
Peter thought nothing of jumping overboard
And swimming to the shore.
The other disciples laughed, and said
“Now, that’s more like it!”
They picked up the oars,
And followed their rock to meet their Lord.

After a meal of abundance,
Jesus and Peter sat together to talk.
Peter could not meet the eyes of his Lord,
But instead waited for the condemnation.
To be removed from the His presence.
“Before the rooster crows,
You will deny me three times.”
Peter would never forget
The look of sadness and pain in Jesus’ eyes
After Peter denied him the third time.
He would never be forgiven.
He could never forgive himself.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Peter said it, but Jesus heard the shame in his voice.
Peter said it, but he doubted Jesus could believe him.

“Feed my lambs,” said his Lord,
but Peter wouldn’t meet his eyes.
He looked everywhere, but at Jesus’ face.
The water, the sand, the boat.
He even counted the fish bones near the fire.
Anything to avoid seeing disappointment.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

“Take care of my sheep.”
Peter barely heard him.
He yearned to say he was sorry.
To beg for forgiveness, but he didn’t deserve it.
Instead he studied the marks on his Lord’s feet,
The scars on his hands.
One hand was open, laying on his thigh.
The other gripped a rock,
The knuckles white with the effort.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter knew, with a feeling of dread,
That Jesus didn’t believe him.
How could he trust him?

Before Peter could speak,
Jesus reached over and grasped his arm.
He could feel the scrape of the scar on his skin.
Finally, he looked at Jesus,
Meeting his gaze.
“Lord, you know everything;
you know that I love you.”

Instead of disappointment, he saw relief.
Instead of accusation, he saw forgiveness.
Instead of rejection, he saw unconditional love.

“Take care of my sheep.
I am telling you the truth.
I have always told you the truth.
Follow me.
What I ask you to do is not easy,
For you know the path I traveled.
It will change your life.
It will cost you your life,
But I have already given it back to you.
Follow me.
I go to our God.
And you will follow me.”


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