What do you think is most important for being a disciple of Jesus?
Commitment? Faithfulness? Discipline? Moral goodness? Sound theology? These are all good things, but I don't believe they are what Jesus is looking for as priority number one.
So... what is the one thing Jesus requires of His followers? A story of restoration gives some great insight into this.
Before Jesus is arrested and crucified, He tells His closest disciples that one of them will betray Him. He does this while eating the annual Passover supper with the betrayer among the twelve chosen disciples.
Of course, they all question who it might be and proclaim it would not be them—even the betrayer himself. Peter, the leader and most vocal of the twelve, insists he will not deny Jesus, even if the others do.
But Jesus turns to Peter and says, "I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” (John 13:38 NCV)
In a defiant tone, Peter insists he will never deny Jesus, but go to jail or die for Him.
Jesus doesn't press the point except to say,
“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you apostles for himself. He wants to separate you from me as a farmer separates wheat from husks. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (Luke 22:31-32 GW)
I've heard people claim they will do many things for God. Likewise, others who insist they won't do certain things. The truth is, they fail to keep these promises. I know this myself only too well.
God has a way of stripping away our self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
Peter did deny Jesus, three times. All the others scattered when Jesus was arrested, but Peter tried to recover and get close to where Jesus was held. This is where God humbled him, during his third denial of Jesus.
While Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Then the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. And Peter remembered what the Lord had said: “'Before the rooster crows this day, you will say three times that you don’t know me.'” Then Peter went outside and cried painfully. (Luke 22:60-62 NCV)
As we fast-forward to the third time Jesus appears to the disciples following His resurrection, the disciples have followed Peter's lead to go fishing. They caught nothing the entire night.
While still in their boat in the early morning, Jesus calls out to them from the shore, "Did you catch anything?"
Hearing their disappointed "no," Jesus suggests they throw their net on the other side of the boat. When they do, the net fills beyond capacity with fish.
John tells Peter, "It's the Lord!" This prompts Peter to jump into the water and swim ashore. The disciples drag their catch ashore where Jesus has some food roasting on a fire for them.
After eating, Jesus engages Peter in a very personal dialogue.
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
A third time he said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” Peter said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!” He said to him, “Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17 NCV)
Much has been said about this exchange between Jesus and Peter, but what follows (John 21:20-22 NCV) is revealing.
Jesus restored Peter after his three denials, then assures Peter of his place and calling within God's kingdom, in spite of his failure. After restoring him, Jesus tells Peter how he will die, and says, "Follow Me."
What's revealing is Peter's response.
Peter turns and looks at his fellow disciple John and asks, "Lord, what about him?"
Why would Peter ask this?
Well, don't we act the same way? We are often more concerned about what others do than what the Lord wants us to do. We want to know if others will go through similar difficulties or hardships.
We are often more concerned about what others do than what the Lord wants us to do
Our real need
But even still, what's the deeper issue?
Jesus' answer points to this issue. He says to Peter, "If I want him to live until I come again, how does that concern you? Follow me!”
What is required to follow Jesus? One simple word. Trust. Trust is what is required to follow Jesus. Trusting Him wherever He leads.
If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, do you trust Him with your life... everything in life?