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A Midweek Devotional - Comparison

This week in Proverbs we come to the topic of wealth. In our better moments, we actually want to know God’s wisdom when it comes to wealth. In those other moments, we’re more concerned about our personal allotment. And while that allotment is personal, we consider it in comparison. With the idea of comparison on our minds, appropriate or not, let us turn to John 21 to see another instance of comparison…one set in the context of Jesus’ highly personalized and loving approach to calling.

Wednesday, October 30th

Larger Portion of Scripture - John 21

Focused Passage for Reflection - John 21:15-25 (with emphasis on v. 21)

Reflecting on the Text:

Jesus loved well. No, scratch that. Jesus loves well. I make the distinction because we often look to the Scripture to find examples from Jesus’ life on earth, but we often consider them merely in the past tense. However the truth is, the application of those lessons continues in the present as Jesus continues to live and minister while seated at the right hand of the Father. One of those lessons (with continuing application) comes in John 21 though is Jesus’ personalized love for Peter.

To get the full picture we would have to go back 3 chapters. In John 18 we find the account of Peter’s denial of Jesus. When the going got tough, Peter tried to protect his own hide. He denied Jesus…three times! Then in John 21, Jesus stood face to face with his old friend. It was a confrontation, meant not to shame, but to reconcile. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter responded in the affirmative. By the third refrain, Peter realized what was going on, but Jesus didn’t back down from the confrontation. He continued with the point, because this loving act of reconciliation was also meant to restore.

Jesus loved Peter well by entering into the messiness of his past failure. He didn’t shove it under the rug. No, Jesus went straight for the wound, so He could heal it. And in the process, Jesus commissioned Peter for a glorious work. Peter was to feed the flock. He was to be the rock upon whom Jesus would build the church.

Peter’s calling was glorious, but it was also going to be hard. It would eventually cost him his life. But it was his purpose, and Jesus was loving him by restoring him and sending him on his way. So how did Peter respond to the personal but hard love of Jesus? He looked over his shoulder and asked, “Lord, what about this man?” (verse 21)

How often do we do the same? How often do we ask the Lord about what He has given to someone else and wonder why we don’t have the same? How often do we miss the deeply personal way in which the Lord Jesus is loving us…all because we want someone else’s life? Or their calling? Or their material resources?

As I consider those questions I have to admit that I don’t often think about my life with the idea that Jesus has written a personalized plan, just for me. I don’t consider that His plan for my life flows out of His personalized love for me. What I’m actually coming to realize is the profound temptation I have to deny Jesus’ personalized love for me, and to instead wish for His personalized love for someone else. Or maybe its just me.

Actually, I know it’s not just me. It was also Peter. And Jesus responded to Peter’s questioning by continuing to love him well, and to challenge him right where he needed to be challenged. He responded to Peter simply and strongly. “What is that to you? You follow me!” Jesus’ love was (and is) both perfect and personal. Let us be encouraged, and in our encouragement, let us stop looking over our shoulder.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Are there particular areas of your life where you are asking the Lord, “What about him/her?”

  • How might your temptation to compare stories be impacted if you began to consider your story as being written personally for you? How might it change things if you realized your personal story flowed out of Jesus’ personalized love?

  • How might your temptation to compare stories be impacted if you gained a greater appreciation for the holiness and wisdom of God?

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