20 Apr Follow Me | Reflections from Israel
The prayer I prayed the most before we left for Israel was that I would retain and remember as much as possible. While I still fear that I might forget, what the Lord did for me instead was refocus my thoughts on what I needed to remember.
Peter walks on water with Jesus before he confesses Jesus as the Messiah in Matthew 16. While we were on the Sea of Galilee, I tried to picture what that might have been like. Peter gets out of the boat to walk on water and he falls. Jesus immediately grabs Peter—He challenges him, but He is there. (Matthew 14:22-33) We tend to always focus on Peter falling, but what I am astounded by is his faith to step out on the water in the first place. When reflecting on this moment, the Lord reminded me that sometimes we too have to step out in faith—even when we doubt and fear, He is there.
“…the Lord reminded me that sometimes we too have to step out in faith—even when we doubt and fear, He is there.”
Then we have Peter in Jerusalem—the same man who stepped out onto the water, confessed Jesus as the Messiah, Son of God, and of whom Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church.” That same Peter is once again faced with declaring who Jesus is, but this time he denies Him. After he does this, he hears the rooster crow and he weeps. Peter has not only denied the Messiah, he has disgraced a friend. The reality of this took shape for me when I realized how often my circumstances, people, this world, culture, idols, fear, insecurities, and doubt can lead me to forget who Jesus is.
Denying Jesus is the memory that Peter has to hold on to. Yet when Jesus is raised from the dead, Peter runs to the tomb. When Jesus appears on the shore, Peter jumps in the water and swims to him. I see Peter moving towards Jesus. I see repentance in his actions. My favorite part of their story is at Peter’s Primacy, a small, seemingly insignificant place we visited by the Sea of Galilee. It is there that Jesus has an encounter with Peter in John 21, where He asks him three times, “Do you love me”? Each time Peter responds “yes.” Jesus then tells him to feed His lambs, tend to His sheep, then feed His sheep. Peter gets to reaffirm his love for Jesus three times. Then Jesus commissions him to show his love for Him by loving His people and feeding them His word. Jesus ends with “Follow me.”
“The relationships that came out of this experience are so life giving, because through their stories I was able to see who Jesus is and be reminded of why He died on the cross.”
The team that went on this trip was incredible. The relationships that came out of this experience are so life giving, because through their stories I was able to see who Jesus is and be reminded of why He died on the cross. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter’s story ends very sadly, and so does ours. But thankfully it doesn’t; as believers, our story ends with redemption, hope, and a commission to love and feed His people.
When Jesus died on the cross for us, He affirmed His love for us. He says “Follow Me.” When we choose to follow Him, and declare who He is, we are affirming our love for Him.
And that to me is more important to remember than a specific place, date, or historical event that occurred in a certain spot.