Take Me Back

man sitting in an empty church

I heard an interesting perspective about Peter and some other apostles at the Sea of Galilee after Jesus arose from His grave. We remember that all the apostles were scattered when the Pharisees apprehended Jesus under duress. Well, the apostle John didn’t scatter, but the rest did. Peter’s was the worst, for he watched the proceedings against Jesus but denied three times that he ever knew Jesus.

Denied Jesus

Before we get on the blame train, have we ever failed to pray at the beginning of lunch with an important client? Have we joined the guys in our brother-in-law’s living room to watch Sunday NFL but conveniently overlooked giving thanks to God for our food? Have we ever joined in wishing someone “good luck?” All of those are denying Jesus. So let’s be slow to judge.

Still, Peter knew he’d messed up real bad. I’m sure he felt like a failure and a hypocrite, the very things the official clergy had been saying about Jesus from the start.

Playing Left-Out

So, as the dust settled, Jesus had proved that He is the Son of God. Everyone could feel the momentum building. His followers were full of questions, and excitement, and anticipation, but not Peter. He thought that he’d missed the boat. Everything Jesus had said was beginning to be fulfilled, but Peter was playing left-out on Christ’s baseball team.

In the Bible, the narrative shifts from Christ’s resurrection to Jesus at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus finds that the fishermen in His inner circle have gone back to their old lives. They were fishing for fish, not men. But I don’t believe Peter was there to catch fish. Peter had been in the inner circle of the inner circle of Jesus. Peter, James, and John were tight with Jesus.

Why was Peter in a Boat?

So, what would Peter be doing, back on the sea, the wind whipping the sail, and the lingering smell of old, dead fish – nothing. Peter was doing nothing. He was going through the motions but he felt dead inside. Have we ever gone through the motions? Years ago, I wrote a song that had the line:

You go through the motions without emotions, and you that that ain’t no good.

I think that was what Peter was doing. Let me share a profound statement I heard a preacher say. He said, “Peter wasn’t there to catch fish. He was there because that was where he first met Jesus.” I think that’s true.

Back to the Beginning

I can’t make a doctrine out of that thought, but it makes sense to me because that’s what we all do when we really mess up, and we can’t see how God can take us back – when we know we deserve nothing from Jesus.

Maybe we ran away from Jesus on purpose. Perhaps in our hearts, for a fleeting moment, we wanted just to be our old selves. Immediately, like Peter, we know we’ve done wrong; not just wrong but we’ve broken our relationship with Jesus and invited an insurrection, just as the devil did in heaven.

I don’t know your experience. But here’s what I do know. In our relationship with Jesus, there always comes a time when our spirit cries out, “Take me back, to the place where I first received you” That’s a line from an André Crouch song.

Renewed Vows

Peter needed it. I needed it. Maybe you need it too. We don’t have to deny Jesus to need our life in Christ renewed. You may have read this post and not identified with a single feeling or problem. Praise God, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t want you to renew your vows with Him.

You want to remind Jesus that you stepped out from those of the world. You stepped out for Jesus to see you. Oh, the preacher saw you. Maybe your momma saw you. Maybe a loved Sunday school teacher saw you. They may have gone on to glory, but Jesus is still here, and it sure would feel good to step out for Jesus.

Peter was ready. Oh, I’m sure he was a hurting man. So when the apostle John said, “Hey, I think that’s Jesus.” Peter didn’t have a moment of hesitation. He dove in the water and ran to his Master. And as Jesus does, Jesus restored him.

Cheap Grace

Jesus restored him but not with cheap grace. Peter had denied Jesus. He had broken faith with Jesus, the one Peter had received revelation from the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the “Son of God.” So Jesus prodded him. “Are you going to do what I have called you to do? Will you feed my sheep. Will you die for me?” Jesus asked Peter hard questions, and He does the same to us when we have sinned deeply. That’s how relationships work.

If my wife and I have a marriage threatening disagreement, it doesn’t get solved with a peck on the cheek and an “I still love you.” No, we must talk through the problem. Someone must change. We must make sure that our foundation is strong. That’s what Jesus did with Peter. That’s what Jesus will do with us, but maybe we need to go back to the start, like Peter. To go to the place we first received Jesus.

Step into the Aisle

Maybe we need to renew our vows to Him. Perhaps we need to step out, again, into the aisle at church; let everyone look. You can’t let the judgment of others overrule your intimacy with Jesus.

As you may have noticed, I feel strongly about this need, especially for people in leadership positions. If you’ve broken your relationship with Jesus or if you feel dry as dust, then ask Jesus to do for you what He did for Peter, to take you back to where you began your life in Him so He can restore you.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay


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