Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Shore of Forgiveness

Another favorite stop of mine in Israel is what is called the place of Peter’s Primacy. This is always one of the most meaningful places on the trip to me. This is where after the resurrection a few of the disciples had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. A man on the shore told them to let there nets down on the other side of the boat and they caught a great catch of fish. At this point John realized it is Jesus on the shore. Peter put on his outer coat and made his way quickly to shore. There Jesus had cooked breakfast for them.

Jesus then had this discussion with Peter, one that would cause Peter to relive his failure. The threefold asking of questions would certainly have caused Peter to remember his denials of Jesus. But the purpose of the discussion was to show Peter that he was forgiven and restored. My paraphrase of the dialogue would be as such:

Jesus: Peter do you love me more than these and yourself (agape)?

Peter: Lord, you know I love you like a brother (phileo).

Jesus: Peter do you love me more than these and yourself (agape)?

Peter: Lord, you know I love you like a brother (phileo).

Jesus: Peter, do you love me like a brother (phileo)?

Peter (weeping): Lord you know all things, you know I love you like a brother (phileo).

Peter could not say he loved Jesus with an agape love due to his three denials of Jesus. Yet, Jesus ends the conversation with the words, “Feed my sheep.” He was telling Peter that even though he had failed him in a horrible way, Jesus was not finished with him. Jesus had died for his sins, rose again and now wanted to use him greatly. And my how he used him as Pentecost rolled around not long afterwards and Peter preached resulting in 3,000 coming to know Christ.

This shoreline where we were today is a shoreline of forgiveness and restoration. It is a place where we can relive in our minds our past failures and then know that we have been forgiven and that God is not yet done with us.

At this place, Dan Travis (out host who is the pastor of the Palmyra Grace Brethren Church and a good friend of mine who I respect greatly) had us each pick up a stone symbolizing our failure and place it in our pocket so that throughout the day we would remember our failure and allow it to sink in. Later that day, while taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee we would have time to pray silently and then throw our stone into the very water that Jesus would have walked on so many years ago.

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