Has your life turned out the way you expected? Probably not. Some life events seem to shove our life off the rails. Then we have to figure out how to get back on track.
Perhaps your dreams of marriage or career didn't quite turn out the way you wanted, so you made adjustments. Many people express a desire to travel but something always seems to get in the way of them doing it. Dreams, ambitions, hopes, expectations all tend to run into road blocks or diversions along the way.
Life is not a straight line! Nor is it a steady trajectory up, although it might seem like a downward spiral at times. Life is full of ups and downs in every facet of life—marriage, family, work, relationships, even plans for vacations or days off.
A logic-defying strategy
Jesus had a strategy for establishing the church but it defied logic. It centered around twelve men He discipled, although one failed to make the cut. Where we see weakness, He saw strength. Even in failure, He saw the opportunity for restoration.
The primary purpose for the Lord Jesus to come, live, die, and rise from the dead was to bring reconciliation and restoration (2 Cor 5:17-21). His resurrection from the dead is a clear illustration of this.
Paul the apostle points this out in Chapter 15 of his first letter to the Corinthian church who were confused about a lot of things. Jesus was the second Adam who brought restoration to all humanity as a life-giving spirit and as the man who came from heaven (1 Cor 15:45-48).
The restoration of Peter
In the last chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times—"Do you love Me?" Each time Peter answers in the affirmative, Jesus gives him a specific exhortation (John 21:15-19).
This is how Jesus restored Peter after he denied knowing the Lord three times on the night Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples (Judas) and arrested and condemned to death.
But we need to go back to the beginning to fully understand the significance of this restoration process. There's more to it than reversing Peter's denials. Jesus was setting Peter back on track with his first calling.
The starting point
As we often find in the gospels, when Jesus taught the people pressed in on Him. One of those times Jesus got into the boat of a fisherman named Simon, asked him to push out from the shore while Jesus sat down and taught.
When Jesus finished teaching He asked Peter to launch out into the deeper water and let his nets down to catch some fish. Peter protests at first, "Teacher, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll lower the nets.”
This discourse between Peter and Jesus became common. The Lord says something, Peter would counter it with his own idea, which brings a correction or sometimes a rebuke by Jesus.
Once the nets are lowered into the deep water they are filled beyond capacity with fish and begin to tear and require Peter's partners to help with the miraculous catch. They fill two boats to the point of sinking with all the fish.
A revelation and a calling
When Peter sees this huge catch he kneels at Jesus' feet and declares, “Leave me, Lord! I’m a sinful person!” The miracle shakes Peter and reveals the nature of this rabbi named Jesus. Peter understood he was in the presence of someone greater than himself.
Everyone else is amazed is amazed by all the fish caught, including Peter's partners, but the miracle had a greater purpose than the excitement it generated.
It was the way Jesus stirred Peter's heart to follow Him. “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch people instead of fish.”
Peter, his brother Andrew and partners James and John all left their boats and livelihood to follow Jesus at that time. You can find this story in Luke 5:1-11 (GW).
As the time drew close for Jesus to fulfill His redemptive mission, He brought His followers to an area above the Galilee region. Caesarea Philippi is a beautiful area for a retreat by the headwaters of the Jordan River.
2 probing questions
While Jesus gathered His disciples together, He asked them what they were hearing about Him—
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matt 16:13 GW)
They told Him some thought Jesus was John the Baptizer back from the dead, possibly Jeremiah or one of the other prophets, even Elijah.
Jesus followed up with a more pointed question—“Who do you say I am?”
Peter immediately blurted out—
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” (Matt 16:16 GW)
A spiritual revelation
Jesus informs Peter that it wasn't His physical presence or is own intelligence that enabled Peter to know this but through revelation from God the Father.
Jesus replied, “Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you. (Matt 17:17 GW)
This is a major turning point for His followers. They finally realize who Jesus is and He assures them that His church (followers) will be built on this important confession of truth (Eph 2:20) and they will overcome every obstacle and not be overcome even by the power of hell (Matt 16:18).
[This story is found in Matthew 16:13-18]
At this point in Peter's life following Jesus is going pretty well. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way and Jesus needs to remind Peter who's in charge, but he seems to be at the top of the class.
Peter evolves into the Lord's point man among the apostles and on track with the call of God for his life. If only it could last.
Tune in next week for the conclusion of Peter's story of restoration. If you can't wait, although I hope you check in next week, here's a link to a message I preached related to this post— Back on Track
What seems to be going well at this time in your life?
How have you seen your life get off track at times?