God is calling us to love Jesus (the life of Peter)
by Charles Cameron
Published on October 12, 2022
Categories: Spiritual Growth

Dear Reader, This is Part 4 of our series: God is calling us to love Jesus (The Life of Peter). You will find the previous post here: [1] [2] [3]

 

“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Does Peter? Will you?

By Charles Carmeron

 In Peter’s life, there were both high and lows. Here, we look at one of his high points. Jesus fed the five thousand (John 6:1-15). After this, He gave teaching concerning Himself as “the Bread of Life” (John 6:25-59). After He had given this teaching, “many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (John 6:60). This led to many of His disciples turning back and no longer following Him (John 6:66). Everything seemed to be going so well after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:14). Nevertheless, the alarm bells were already ringing (John 6:15). Jesus is concerned about the misunderstanding. He seeks to correct it (John 6:26-27). He emphasizes that there is a difference between “the manna in the desert” (John 6:31) and “the true bread from heaven.” Jesus says, “the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33). Jesus preaches the Gospel (John 6:35,37,40,51).

The Jews cannot understand Him (John 6:52). This is a repeat of Nicodemus’ failure to understand: “How can a man be born when he is old? . . . Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4). Jesus is speaking about the work of the Holy Spirit – “the world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you” (John 14:17). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned … But we have the mind of Christ.” Why did Peter keep on following at a time when other people were turning back? It was because he knew that he was loved with an eternal love. Jesus spoke words of eternal love as well as words of eternal life (Ephesians 1:3-6; Revelation 13:8). We keep on following the Lord because we know that He keeps on loving us. Behind the death of Christ, we see the eternal love of God. Through the death of Christ, we receive eternal life with God. His love keeps on, We keep on going, and it keeps us going. We have Christ’s promise (John 10:28). It keeps us looking beyond this world to the heavenly world (2 Corinthians 3:16-18). Christ’s promise assures us that He is keeping us in the pathway that leads us on to this better world (1 Peter 1:3-5). Peter confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Here, we have “the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Jesus says to us “Believe the Good News” (Mark 1:14). It’s the Gospel of God. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel comes to us from God. Jesus comes to us from God. Jesus is the Gospel. This is Good News. Jesus has come to our world – and He has died for sinners (1 Peter 3:18). He has died for us to bring us to God now, to keep us with God forever.

Questions asked by Peter

I comment briefly on two questions and, then, focus on a third question. In the two brief comments, we note how practical and challenging Jesus’ answers are. This is emphasized when we look at the third question.

(a) “Lord, does this parable apply to us, or do you mean it for everyone?” (Luke 12:41).

Jesus says, “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given” (Luke 12:48).

(b) “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).

Jesus says, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).

What is 70 X 7? It’s 490. If you’re still counting, you’ve missed the point!

(c) “Look, we have left everything and followed You. What will we have? (Matthew 19:27). To see this question in its context we need to read the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-30). Those who give themselves to the Lord discover that God’s giving to us far exceeds our giving to Him. We receive far more from than we can ever give to Him.

Often, Jesus’ teaching is given in response to questions. He encourages us to ask questions. He says, Ask, and it shall be given to you” (Luke 11:9). Bring your questions to the Lord, and let Him give you His answers – answers which will make you want to seek Him more. His answers do not send us away with a smug ‘know-it-all’ attitude. They send us to Him, strengthening in us the faith that Christ is the Answer. To know that Christ is the Answer does not mean that we have all the answers to every question. There are times when we will have to say, “I don’t know the answer to your question.” There is something else we must also say: Christ is the Answer. Find Christ, and you will not need to have all the answers to all of your the questions. You will know that Christ is the Answer. Where questions seem to be unanswered, you will be content to leave them with the Lord in the sure confidence that He is the Answer of God’s love, God’s Answer to our every need.

Peter’s questions lead us to think about our giving and God’s giving.

  • We learn to give to God, as we learn to appreciate how much we have received from Him, how much we are loved by Him.
  • We learn to respond to God’s generous love as we learn to appreciate how much we have received from Him, how much we are loved by Him.
  • We learn to respond to God’s generous love, and we are changed, becoming more Christ-centered and less self-centered.
  • What happens when we don’t take time to respond to His generous love? We become shallow people, too preoccupied with ourselves and insufficiently aware of the presence and purpose of God.
  • We need to be changed by the Lord. It needs to be more of Jesus, and less of self. The world says, “More, more, more … ” for self, but the world’s way does not lead to fulfillment. Happiness is not the result of getting “this, that and the other.” Happiness is god’s gift to us, given to us in Christ. Happiness comes to us, as we seek God, not as we seek happiness itself. Search for happiness, and what do you find? – The more you get, the more you want, and so the dissatisfaction continues. To search for happiness in things is to settle for less than God’s Best – true happiness in Christ.
  • Some people are materially rich – and spiritually poor. According to the world’s standards, they are successful. In relation to God, the word ‘failure’ is written all over their life. The cost of success is too high when it has a negative effect on our relationship with God.
  • When things are going well, we need to ask, “How much is too much? Some get ‘too much too soon’, and their life is ruined. They fail to give the glory to the Lord. Their material prosperity is not matched by spiritual progress.
  • There is something wrong when there is too much getting and not enough giving. We need a healthy balance between the two.

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Charles Cameron, better known as Charlie to his friends, lives in Scotland and is a member of the Church of Scotland. He owns several Christian blogs found at the following links:

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Feature Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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