March 26 Devotional
Opening Prayer: I have heard your call, my Lord, and respond with a yes that arises from the depth of my being. I know that if I follow close to you, nothing shall be able to separate me from your love. Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job)
Scripture Reading for the Day: John 21:15-19
Journal: Do you truly love him, more than these? What is these for you? Walk with Jesus on the quiet beach and hear him ask you the same question he asked Simon Peter. Write him a letter in response to his question.
Reflection: They are walking down the shoreline in the early morning sun. It had been days since that fateful night. It is just the two of them, with John following well behind. Jesus had something he wanted to ask his friend, and he didn’t want to put him on the spot by asking in front of the others. It was an intimate question and it called for an intimate setting.
Peter could sense something was coming, but didn’t quite know what. There was still a good bit of shame and disappointment lingering deep within his soul as he replayed, over and over again, that dreaded scene from the night of Jesus’ arrest. Peter had denied him, three times. He had denied his master, his teacher, and his best friend. He had done the very thing he swore just hours before that he would never do. It was still so fresh, so painful, so haunting, so humiliating.
As they walk, Jesus senses that there is a lot below the surface of his friend’s silence. A deep wrestling is going on. So he turns to Peter and asks the question, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” In fact, three times Jesus asks it, and three times Peter answers - three chances to confess that which he had denied only days earlier. It is such a sweet picture of grace and intention and restoration, even though Peter doesn’t fully realize what is going on. Jesus is offering him a second chance. Jesus is saying: Peter, I love you more than life itself. I dreamt you into being and knit you together in your mother’s womb. I formed your innermost parts with great care and intention, and I deeply love what I have made. When I think of you it brings a smile to my lips and joy to my heart. When I look at you my eyes light up and my heart leaps within me. How I long for you to know and understand the depths and fullness of my love. How I long for you to live your whole life from this deep inner reality. Peter, you are my Beloved . . . am I yours?
It isn’t just any question, it is the question: “Do you truly love me?” And it isn’t just “Do you truly love me?” but “Do you truly love me more than these?” And what are the “these” to which he is referring? Are “these” his friends, or his family, or his work, or his business? It could be anything. Which is exactly the point. Because the question Jesus asks Peter isn’t just for Peter, it is for us all. Each of us has a different these. Jesus wants us to realize that it’s only when we live our lives firmly in the center of his love and affection that we are able to be truly free - free of our deep need for love and acceptance and affirmation and significance. Free to feed his lambs without feeding on his lambs. (Being with Jesus by Jim Branch)
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Michael and Diana Johnson serve with People International. As International Director, Michael provides broad vision and leadership for the mission. Pray today for a continuing relief effort by People International to those who are seeking safety from Islamic militants in the Kurdish area of Northern Iraq. Michael and Diana were our guests at this month’s Global Mission Conference.
The CSPC Special Needs Ministry reaches out to families touched by a disability and offers support to those who are constant caregivers. Opportunities for respite care are given to these families by loving, trained volunteers who offer their services several times a year through a program called Buddy Blast. This involves a variety of activities such as play time in the gym, movies, crafts and games. Pray today for Knoxville families who are touched by a disability and for the volunteers at CSPC who lovingly reach out to them.
Closing Prayer: Yes, Father! Yes! And always Yes! - Francis de Sales