BY JIMMY NUNN
There are varieties of trees that hold their
leaves throughout the winter and early spring. The crusty, paper-thin, pale
brown leaves maintain their grip in the same manner that old ways cling to
us. But even those stubborn, dead leaves must give way to the new buds.
In late spring, the emergence of new life in those
trees is a parable of resurrection.
Jesus’ lakeshore encounter with Peter is one of
the Gospels’ stories about what happened after the resurrection.
Peter had failed Jesus. He had stood among people
beside a charcoal fire, after Jesus’ arrest, and three times he had denied
knowing Jesus (John 18).
The sting of those failures clung to him like dead
leaves. He was filled with guilt and shame.
We read in John 21 that the resurrected Jesus
helped the disciples catch a massive number of fish.
As the men neared shore with their catch, they saw
Jesus cooking breakfast on a charcoal fire. I can imagine the unsettled
feelings Peter must have had as they approached.
Would Jesus accept him? How would he react to
This is what happened: Three times, Jesus asked
Peter if he loved him.
And each time Peter replied, "Yes."
Asking the questions about Peter’s love, Jesus
cleared the way for new growth to occur. Like springtime buds bursting
forth, Jesus commissioned Peter to feed his sheep and lambs.
New beginnings occur when old roadblocks are
cleared. Jesus tells Peter to follow him.
But Peter was not yet ready to begin a new journey
following Jesus. It intrigues me that the first thing Peter did after
hearing the command to follow Jesus was turn, look behind him, and ask,
"What about him?" (John 21:21 CEV).
This is true for you and me as well. We are unable
to follow Jesus when we set our sights on someone or something else. We
cannot follow Jesus by looking backward.
Those brittle, dead leaves from last year that
won’t let go illustrate Peter’s question that betrayed those feelings he
When Jesus saw Peter’s distraction, he asked,
"What difference does that make to you? Follow me" (John 21:22 CEV).
Following Jesus is a life directed by God; looking
backward is a life dictated by circumstance.
Looking to Jesus supports a life lived by
principles; looking behind is a life subdued by pressure.
Looking to Jesus means being led by the Holy
Spirit; looking behind implies being lost in the wilderness.
The miracle of Easter is that Jesus Christ is
risen! The power of the resurrection is affirmed when we release to God
those things that are obstacles to grace.
Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t become imprisoned
by circumstances. Don’t get lost in the wilderness. Christ is risen!
Just as the new growth on a tree can be easily
seen, so also may your life reflect a deeper walk with Christ. May you grow
in wisdom, shrink in opinion; increase in gratitude, diminish in pride; show
more mercy and less harshness; reflect God’s love and overcome selfishness.
God transforms old hurts into spiritual assets.
Christ the Lord is risen! Alleluia!