Restored to Glory
Peter had betrayed the Lord Jesus, the one he loved more than anything in the world. Saul, who was truly zealous for the house of God, had betrayed the real house of God, the body of Christ. How could these men get so far off?
Peter and Saul were very dissimilar. Peter was following Jesus and Saul was persecuting Jesus. Yet they were alike in some ways. Both fell under the tyranny of an hierarchical power structure of church or state. There was little difference between these two structures. They demand that we follow them or they will punish us. Peter knew that he might be destined for punishment, maybe even tortured like Jesus. Saul was on the side of punishers. That was the best insurance policy against punishment.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:1-19)
Christian discipleship is not about pleasing people or the power structure. If we are receiving any opposition to our faith, then perhaps we should examine our our hearts.
The destinies of both Peter and Saul were about to change. Peter would become the leader of the true Church, the body of Christ. Saul would become Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, and author of two-thirds of the New Testament. Both were hit received forgiveness from God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Peter had the teaching and preparation directly from Jesus. Jesus would tell him he would no longer be in control of his life. Rather, he would feed the sheep at all costs. Saul was not have the same history. But he had a great zeal for Judaism and the interpretation of the Jewish leadership. He was a brilliant student of Torah, but he was misguided by his teachers. Jesus confronted him:
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:1-6)
Saul was physically blinded. But when his sight was restored he received his spiritual sight. Saul became Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament.
Do we live under fear of corrupt authority, often motivated by evil intentions? Jesus said:
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
If that is our hope for protection from harm, must realize that these authorities do not have our best interests in mind. The psalmist wrote:
I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have lifted me up
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave. (Psalm 30:1-3)
God is our source of protection. But Christians are are in a war zone. We need to put on the full protection of God:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Tye Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him:
7God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
We are not called to live in fear. In John’s First Epistle we read:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
God is our protection. He is o9r source of strength. He is the one who builds us up in love so that we may not live in fear. We no linger have to hide ourselves in falsehood and tyranny of this fleeting world. Let us lead a life hidden in Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)