When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’…Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
(St. John 21:15, 18-19
Take a Moment to Ponder
This passage from St. John, is one I like as a call to discipleship, because of the structure of it. At the end of it, Jesus said to those gathered around that fire, “follow me”. This “follow Me!” came after Jesus told Peter exactly what he was up for and further, after those same ones gathered around the fire had experienced great anguish at the separation, violence and brutal death of the one they were following. Those gathered around the fire were perhaps still grieving the great trauma that they suffered just a few weeks before this seaside experience. The seaside itself is filled with much of what the call and cost of discipleship is all about. For me, this invitation to ‘follow me’ by Jesus highlights that the call and cost of following God in Jesus Christ, is about CHANGE, COMMITMENT, CONTROL and ultimately TRIUMPH. The passage further highlights the only way that one will be able to fully be engaged in the activities of discipleship is through Love for God in Jesus Christ. Love for God, which leads to love for all persons is the anchor that holds one in the engagement of discipleship. Anyone who answers the call to Discipleship, will have to be open to CHANGE, be COMMITTED to the call and pay the price of relinquishing CONTROL to God. In order to respond to the call and pay the cost of discipleship, it has to be one that is undergirded by love for God in Jesus Christ, which leads to the love of people. We cannot respond to the call to discipleship, we cannot bear the cost unless we love Jesus Christ. Jesus sought to restore not only Peter but all the disciples who gathered around that fire, for all of them had flaked on their commitment to follow Jesus, all of them ran back to the familiar instead of embracing the CHANGE that was taking place and all of them decided to take back CONTROL of their lives. But in order to set them again on the path of following him, in his absence, Jesus had to bring to the forefront of their minds and the centre of their hearts, that they cannot really Change, Commit or Relinquish Control, unless they Love Jesus. So, we hear Jesus pulling it out of Peter in the presence of others—“Peter do you love me?” Each time, after Peter, responds yes, that Jesus instructed him to feed my sheep, feed my lambs. It is love for Jesus that does it. We must note though, that the call and cost of discipleship is not just about the challenges, it is also about TRIUMPH. This is because following Jesus leads to life and life in abundance. Jesus himself said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly”. While Jesus recalled the disciples to follow him after their experience, even with some of the dangers that it entails, they also saw that it leads to resurrection. Jesus who was beaten and killed was sitting in their midst feeding them. They would have known that the Change, Commitment and Relinquishing of Control that they were called to, would ultimately lead to great Triumph.
- Take a moment to reflect on and make a list of what, if anything, you have given up, to follow Jesus Christ?
- Is there something that God is calling you to? Make a list of things that might be preventing you from committing to what God is calling you to?
- Is there any part of your life that you have not given up full control of, to Jesus Christ? If yes, what areas and what is holding you back?
- What joys have you experienced by following Jesus? Make a list of them!
A Moment in Prayer
Give me grace O God, to follow where you lead. Help me to be committed to the task of discipleship, and help me to embrace the change that comes with following you; give me grace to release control to you, that I may experience the joys of your eternal life, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen
Contributed by Rev Garfield Campbell