The “Second Week”: Week Eighteen/Session Two.
Theme: The Call and Cost of Discipleship.
Our reading for today: John 21: 15-19.
After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Master, You know I love You.” Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.” He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me? “Yes, Master, You know I love You.” Jesus said, “Shepherd My sheep.” Then He said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was upset that He asked for the third time, “Do you love Me?” so he answered, “Master, You know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then He commanded, “Follow Me.” (John 21: 15-19 MsgB)
Have you ever found yourself caught up in a very uncomfortable conversation?
Over the years, as I’ve pondered this post-resurrection dialogue between Jesus and Peter, as found in today’s text, I’ve always felt the uneasiness that Pete has here when the Master keeps asking him the same question over and over again. I mean, talk about your one-track mind! It’s very apparent that Jesus has an agenda going on here and He’s obviously not gonna stop knocking on Pete’s door until He gets the response from Peter that He’s looking for.
But don’t feel too sorry for Peter.
As I see it, he caused this uncomfortable conversation when he so proudly proclaimed just a few days earlier to both Jesus and all of his fellow disciples…
“Even if everyone else is ashamed of You when things fall to pieces, I won’t be…Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You.” (Mark 14: 29, 31)
Yikes. I wonder if Peter still blushes up in heaven when he’s reminded that his outlandish claims of bravery are recorded for all time in God’s Word?
But, whether Peter caused this embarrassing dialogue with Jesus through his own pride and arrogance, or it was the Master coming in His reconciling love to heal a broken man of his great shame, this conversation recorded for us in John’s Gospel remains, for all time, as a prime example of the great cost of following Jesus wherever He might ask any of us to go.
You see, it’s one thing for me to say that I love Jesus when life is going well and most things around me seem to be under control. But when all hell breaks out around me and things begin to become shaky in life, I’m very embarrassed to admit that my love and trust levels in the Master tend to take a hit as well. How about you?
So as we are dialoguing this week with St. Ignatius as he challenges all of us on the true cost of discipleship, I guess I must be truthful and say that sadly, there are times in my life when I tend to be a fair-weather Christian, loving Jesus and His Kingdom when things are going well, but being much less affectionate when things are not!
My mentor, John Wimber used to talk about such folks like this, calling them “Jesus-plus” kind of Christians. You know the kind I mean?
Jesus + a good life.
Jesus + a loving spouse.
Jesus + a well-rounded family.
Jesus + a good paying job.
Jesus + a secure 401K plan.
Jesus + air-conditioning and a swimming pool.
Wimber would challenge us by asking if we’d be willing to become “Jesus + nothing” kind of disciples. In other words, would it be enough for me in life to be found with Jesus, and Jesus alone?
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe firmly in the biblical mandate that tells me that Jesus desires great blessings for me in both this life and the next. But as we see here in the uncomfortable conversation between Peter and Jesus, there will be times when the Spirit might lead me into places I’d prefer to never go. Places or situations that are chosen by Jesus and not chosen by my desire to remain comfortable in this life.
The cost of true discipleship. I guess Wimber’s concept of becoming a “Jesus + nothing” kind of Christian just might be what the Master was looking for in His first century disciples. Something tells me nothing’s really changed after two thousand years!
My prayer: OK, Jesus, I admit it. There are many times when my need for comfort trumps my ability to count the true cost of following You. If You are indeed Master and Savior, I must transform my thinking, and like Peter and the earliest disciples, be willing to go places I might not choose to go and do things I’m less than comfortable doing. I choose You and You alone. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where am I insisting on a life with Jesus + ______ (fill in the blank)? What add-ons are actually becoming stumbling blocks in my progressive journey with Jesus and what action steps can I take today to remove my insistence upon those additions?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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