Estelle Smith - The Making of Peter

I have thought a great deal, probably about two weeks now, of that last chapter of John. Isn’t it the most beautiful and precious account of an interview between Jesus and Peter? There is a hymn that is no longer in our books and the first verse came into my mind, “Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee. I give Thee back the life I owe, that in thy ocean depths, it’s flow might richer fuller be.”

I thought about Peter and it tells us at the beginning of this chapter that he decided to go fishing. For the first time, it just appealed to me in this way. This poor man, although he’d already seen the Lord a few times, I think, yet he had a terrible storm in his heart and there was something that he had to settle. Being a fisherman, he knew what it was like to be out on that sea at night. In the stillness of that lake and maybe he just had a tremendous desire to get out there alone to think and sort out a few things, settle some things in his heart and his mind. When he said, “I’m going fishing,” he suddenly found that he had company. I don’t think there was too much talking on that little vessel that night.

I also don’t think that it bothered Peter too much that they had caught no fish because his mind was on deeper and eternal things. No doubt there was a desperate yearning in him to just cross the gap between himself and his beloved Master. Then early that morning, just about a hundred metres from the shore, they saw Him there. Jesus was waiting for him. When Peter realised who He was, he just flung himself into the sea, trying to close the gap between himself and his Master.

Jesus had food prepared for them. I was also picturing that scene. I think, if I’m right, that there were seven disciples there and I pictured them sitting there in a circle around this fire with the Lord. Maybe there wasn’t too much said there, either. Then Jesus, Himself, closed the gap. He reached out to His unworthy disciple and Peter was still writhing in the humiliation of what had happened and just longing to get some peace inside himself.

Jesus looked at him and spoke to him and He asked him a question. We all know this chapter so well but it’s just got so much more meaning to me because I happened to look up the meaning of the words that Jesus used. I wondered if when Jesus asked him the first question, if Peter didn’t even look up. He knew the Lord was searching his heart. That’s what brought that hymn to my mind. He was probing the depths of that man. He was reaching out with that same amazing, eternal love that brought Him to this earth and wanting to lift this poor fallible human being onto a higher plane. He was wanting him to realise that there is a difference between “Peter I know you really do love Me. You love Me very much, as a friend.”

That is what Peter said to Him, “Lord you know that I love you,” but Jesus kept asking him a different question, “Do you love me with the same kind of love, that’s not only in your heart, in your mind, in your will? It’s something that lifts you up and helps you to walk as my Father would have you walk. To walk as I have walked. To follow Me and to have a love in your heart, not just that emotional love of a friend and somebody that you feel greatly for, but something that is much higher, much greater, more perfect and a discipline in your life that helps you to love the un-lovable,” as Jesus did.

That day a change took place in Peter. He became a different man, strong, courageous, loving, with a tremendous humility in him which was brought about by that experience. Realising what he really was made of and it made him into the wonderful disciple that he became that could help him to write the things that he wrote in his letters. That makes him for us, still today, a tremendous inspiration. There’s hope for us all because of God, who loves us, who sent His Son to this earth - to bring to us something greater than we have ever known before and if we can close this gap, if we can allow the Lord to close the gap between Him and us, draw us into a deeper circle of His love and grace, we can fill a place that we can only do by the grace of God and may He help us.