Today is Maundy Thursday.
It's the day Jesus ate the Passover meal, or the Last Supper as we call it, with his disciples in an upper room. Maundy refers to Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, preparing them to go out into the world and serve. John 13 and Luke 22 tell the story so beautifully, and I encourage you to read it sometime in the next few days as we remember the love Jesus willingly poured out for each of us on the cross.
As I think about that long-ago Thursday, one disciple always stands out in my mind.
Peter had been with Jesus since the early days of Jesus' ministry. We meet him in Luke 5 while he is washing his fishing nets. He'd been fishing but hadn't caught anything. Jesus stood on Peter's boat to speak to the crowd, and when he finished he turned to Peter and basically said, "Let's go fishing." It would have been easy for Peter to say no, but look what he says in verse 8:
"Master, we've worked hard all night long and haven't caught anything. But because you say so I will let down the nets."
Wow! Did you catch that?
"BECAUSE YOU SAY SO!"
That is obedience! Immediate, unquestioning obedience!
The story continues and we read how Peter catches a boatload of fish. We also see in verse 11 that as soon as they reached the shore, Peter "left everything and followed" Jesus!
That is the kind of passion Peter had. He was eager to obey, eager to follow. He's the one who first acknowledged that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah in Luke 9:20, and he's the one who climbed out of the boat to walk on water with the Lord in Matthew 14:29.
I see myself in Peter.
I'm passionate about Jesus, although it can be a bit misguided sometimes. I'm eager to follow the Lord, though I lose my footing every now and again.
Peter's shame came on the night Jesus was arrested. On Maundy Thursday, while the disciples shared the Passover meal with the Lord, Passionate Peter declared he would go to prison or even to death with Jesus, yet we all know that isn't true. Jesus knew it too. He told Peter that he would deny even knowing the Lord three times that very night.
My heart aches for Peter as I read Luke 22:54-62. When Jesus was arrested, Passionate Peter couldn't leave like the others, but unlike what he'd said a few hours before, he was not willing to be arrested. He lurked near the place where they'd taken the Lord, staying to the shadows and trying his best to blend in. Three times someone recognizes him as a disciple of Jesus. Three times he denies knowing the Lord.
"Just as [Peter] was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly."
Don't you know his heart was pierced when the Lord looked right at him?
I see myself in Peter.
Have you ever denied being a Christian?
Have you ever avoided using the name Jesus?
Have you ever had your heart pierced by the Lord?
I think there's a little bit of Peter in all of us at some point in our lives.
Thankfully Peter's story doesn't end with his shame. He is there when Jesus is crucified. He is there at the empty tomb. He is there when the resurrected Jesus appears. Jesus himself tells Peter to "feed my sheep." And that's exactly what Peter does beginning in Acts 2:14.
Like Peter, my story didn't end with my shame and sin. Like Peter, I'm striving to serve the Lord with everything that I am. I'll make mistakes. I'll have misguided passion. But I'll do my best to be a servant of the Most High. It is the very least I can do knowing what Jesus was willing to do for me.
May you and yours have a very Blessed Easter as we celebrate our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ!