(photograph: statue of St Peter at the steps leading up to St Peter’s Basilica / The Vatican / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said,
“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.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep
(NIV John 21:15-17)
There is something very powerful about the man known as Simon bar Jonah that touches a chord deep within my soul. This apostle who was called from the sea. A fisherman by trade. A rough-neck, a hot head. Impulsive and brash. A man who acted before thinking, a man who most likely did not have nor use filters before speaking what came first to mind. A man of very little, if any, patience. A simple man who saw the world in black or white. A man of very little, if any, education. A man who was a deserter, a coward, a liar…the character flaws of this man go on and on and on…. and yet there was another man who was of great importance who saw something of great importance in this simple, rough around the edges, fisherman.
There is hope in all of this as this most broken, most lacking, most flawed of men was chosen–was chosen for a life altering task. Someone great believed in this broken man even when the broken man did not believe in himself. He cowered in the shadows when he was most needed to lead. He was weak. And yet he was tasked with changing the world.
I can certainly identify with the many character flaws of Simon bar Jonah… I am ashamed to admit. That is why I feel a connection with this fisherman….I feel like I know his man. I’ve had my own share of demonstrating less then stellar attributes in front of others, only to wish for a quick rewind, a do-over, or the ability to up and quickly move countries.
Luckily there is hope. Hope in the fact that good can come from not so good. That a dirty old rock pulled from the ground can be cut and polished into something priceless.
He was forgiven, over and over and over again….so that he in turn would understand the importance of doing the same.
He was nurtured and “coached” all along the way… finally to be turned out on his own to set the world on fire. And the world, like it or not, has never been the same. Regardless of whether or not you are a Believer, even your world has been effected…this man altered history.
I sat in a small, dark, damp, cave-like cistern deep within the ground in what was once ancient Rome that was formerly his prison. I saw some relics that tradition claims were chains that held him captive. And I made my way through an ancient, dimly lit alley road way, buried deep within the earth, within the bowels of the Vatican, that led to his skeleton, or more accurately some of his bones, plus or minus a skull depending on who you ask.
He was tried and tested but withstood the trials. To Christians, he is huge, but it is not this hugeness, this larger than life persona, that speaks to me. It is rather the brokenness that speaks to me. I know of my brokenness and flaws and I am thankful and hopeful that there is redemption–
There is, always, thankfully hope. He was asked to feed lambs—and he did.
Today is the first day of school. Teachers are tasked with nurturing lambs (some of the lambs are more like goats with a few wolves hiding out as well)…they wanted to feed the lambs and so they do.
You too have been tasked with something important….something that can and will change lives. Are you cowering in the shadows, or are you being cut and polished? Is there someone who needs for you to believe in them so that they may go out and change the world? Greatness is still waiting to happen but it may not be perceived as Great….brokenness can be mended.
There is always hope, there is always redemption for the brokenness, there is always room to believe in others……Greatness beckons…God is calling… are you listening?