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What Is It To You? May 18, 2010

Posted by Michelle Knoll in Devotionals.
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That title up there…. those could be considered such harsh words.  I mean, has anyone ever said that to you?  “What is it to YOU?”  I mean, ouch.  Really.

But these are words that came from a man who was… LOVE.

If you don’t know the story, here it is in John 21.  Jesus ate breakfast with some of the disciples, and then had a talk with Peter afterward.  They walked away from the group to converse alone.

Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  Some say Jesus was asking Peter if he loved the Lord more than the other disciples did.  You know, sort of testing Peter’s loyalty.  After all, Peter denied he knew the Lord three different times, right?

But I don’t think Jesus was asking about Peter’s loyalty.  I think they walked past the net full of fish, and Jesus wanted to know if Peter loved the Lord more than he loved fishing.  So He asked Peter, “Do you love me more than… say… these?”

Peter’s response was, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”  But what was the look that passed between them?  What did Peter see in Jesus’s eyes that morning, and what did Jesus see in Peter’s eyes?  What were the unspoken thoughts?  

“Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”  Peter knew… that Jesus knew… what was in Peter’s heart.

But Jesus’s response was interesting itself.  “Feed my lambs.” 

Jesus asked Peter again, “Do you love me?” (no comparison this time) and Peter answered, “You know I love you.” And Jesus replied again, “Tend my sheep.”

Then Jesus asked a third time: “Do you love me?” and Peter answered, “Lord, you know all things.  You know I love you.”  But this time, the word that Peter used for “love” was a different word.  It was a different level of love.  It was as if Peter was thinking, “Jesus knows how messed up I am on the inside.  He knows everything there is to know about me.  There’s no point in trying to hide it, no point in acting like I’m okay when I’m not.”

And yet, Jesus told Peter again, “Feed my sheep.”  I can imagine the look in Jesus’s eyes at that moment spoke volumes.  A look that reached down into Peter’s soul.

And Peter was a changed man.

One command for each denial.  Three for three.  Jesus was telling Peter: “You see yourself so messed up, and you think all you will do is mess up again.  I see you as the shepherd you are, the whole person, the redeemed person, the man I’ve called you to be.”

Peter received HOPE that morning.  But I think he still carried guilt as well.  So much from the past, piling up on the “now” and threatening to doom the future.  I can imagine that he was still unsure of his position with the Lord.

Why do I think that?  Because he immediately compared himself to John.

Now, it’s a funny thing that John was following them while they talked.  I mean, get real!  A grown man, following two other grown men.  Why??  Was he overly curious?  Jealous of Peter having a moment alone with the Lord?  Just what was going on?

But that’s a question for another day.  Back to Peter.

Peter saw John following them, and said to Jesus, “Okay, what about him?” 

Why was Peter so concerned about John? Why was he worried about how his instructions from the Lord compared to instructions John might receive?  What made him do that?

But Jesus put it all to rest when He looked at Peter and said the stern words that are the title of this post:  “What is it to you?” 

“What is it to you if he remains until I return?  YOU FOLLOW ME.”

Did Peter feel inferior to John?  Probably.  I mean, wouldn’t you feel lower than your colleagues if YOU had been the one to deny Jesus three times?  I would have!  I would have felt like a scumbag around all the other disciples.  So I’m sure that Peter was struggling with his place, with his future, and with the whole “I’m a disciple of Jesus” thing.

It’s a hard thing to make a mistake, and live through it, and not feel inferior to those around you.  Peter had made many mistakes.  And if you hurt someone you really care about in the process, that makes it even harder to deal with.  I’m sure, truth be told, he was feeling pretty low.  Even if Jesus had just given him a ray of hope, and assured him of his position.  “Feed my sheep.”  That’s a huge calling!  Still, the battle raged within Peter.  Suppose he messed up again?  Then what?

But Jesus, in His magnificent manner, stripped away all the fear in Peter’s heart about what was to happen from there on out.  He said, “You follow Me.”  Three words summed up Peter’s position, and washed like balm over Peter’s wounded soul:  “Peter, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. You have a place.  You have a calling.  You have a mission.  You have a life, to live, for Me.  Live It.  Follow Me.”

The Lord has a place for each and every one of us, even those — get this! — even those who are not yet born again.  Their place is there!  Yes, it is!  Even though they haven’t stepped into that place yet.  That’s how much He loves everyone.  He’s already created each person’s place, and great works for each and every one of us to accomplish.

We need to take comfort in knowing that we each, individually, have our own calling and our own position with Him.

Still, we can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, and wondering if we are at the same level they are at. Or if we have been given more to do than others, or less.  The comparisons are many.

But Jesus says to each of us, “Why should it matter to you, what he/she/they do?”

Because… it doesn’t really matter.  Even if they live until He returns for us.

May we all see ourselves as the Lord sees us, made new, made whole, in right standing with Him.  May we allow His Words to strip from our thoughts and hearts the fear that we can’t do this “disciple” thing, that we’ll just mess up again.  May we step into His Love, and let it propel us into our individual futures and callings, fulfilling those the way He intends.




1. Sarah S. Frazier - May 19, 2010

I continue to wonder if “Feed my sheep” is a command for all of us, not just Peter (I tend to think so), and just who are the sheep? Some say believers, but I say it’s the whole world, especially those who are hungry in any way, shape, form. Anyway, that’s how the words fall on my heart. But I, like Peter, am getting whiplash looking around and asking, “But, but, what about …?”

2. The Cookie Lady - May 19, 2010

I agree with you, Sarah. I believe the command is for all of us, and we are to tend to ALL who are hungry. And yes, I suffer from the “but what about…?” question myself. A lot. I feel I can relate to Peter better that I can relate to any of the other disciples! So unsure sometimes if I can do this “disciple thing” the way I’m supposed to. But God gives us grace, amen?

Thanks for commenting!

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