Hello Friend! Recently, we have been talking about comfort. What it is, what it is not, where to find it and how to stop blocking it. As we established from the beginning, comfort is the state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. It is the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. Something comforting will relax us, console us and give a sense of tranquility. Sure a day at the beach, a soft blanket or your favorite chocolate (mmm…dark chocolate for me, please!) may bring you that comfort, but it is temporary. You and I are after the kind of comfort that will last and be real. However, what if we have to walk through serious discomfort to get to our comfort?
Last month, I heard a sermon about Peter, the outspoken disciple of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I can relate with him on so many levels. My mouth and quick reactions can get me into trouble too! As my pastor talked about Peter’s denial of Christ right before the crucifixion, I started seeing a new side to Peter’s whole situation and story. Peter may have messed up big time, but his heart was usually in the right place. He was willing to do anything to have a restored connection with his Comforter, even if it meant jumping head first into discomfort.
Risk Over Faith
During the night of the Last Supper as described in Luke 22: 31-34, Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed the next morning, Peter would three times deny that he even knew Christ. Of course Peter did not believe that he could ever do such a thing. However, early the next morning, Peter was approached by three different people who asked him if he was a follower of Jesus.
Out of fear, Peter answered the first two with a strong “no”. When the third person questioned him he cursed and swore. Now let’s remember, the people questioning Peter were not soldiers. Instead, they were a servant girl, a woman and a innocent bystander. They had no intent or authority to harm Peter in any way. Yet in his fear, Peter was pulling away from the whole situation. He knew what the Romans were capable of and he wanted nothing to do with it.
Have there been times in your life when you were so well acquainted with the risks that you let it override your faith? I do it too…way too often!
After Peter denied that he knew Jesus for the third time, the rooster crowed and Peter stopped dead in his tracks. The reality of what he had done hit him hard.
How could he turn his back on Jesus? Why was it so easy for him to lie? Was his fear of discomfort really more important to him than following the Man that he knew was the Messiah? Peter was heart broken and wept bitterly over what he had done.
Can you imagine what Peter must have gone through for the next three days? He was probably overcome with guilt and feeling lost with Jesus gone. It is no surprise that when Mary Magdelene declared that she had talked to Jesus, Peter ran to the tomb to try to find Jesus himself. Peter wanted to set things straight with his Lord.
After the resurrection, the Gospels tell of brief meetings that Jesus has with His disciples.
In Matthew 28:9-10, Jesus appears to His disciples as they are returning from His empty tomb. They worshiped at Jesus feet and He instructed them to meet Him in Galilee.
Mark 16:12-13 says that Jesus appeared to two of His disciples.
Jesus appeared two different times in Luke. Chapter 24 verses 13-35 tell the story of Jesus walking and talking with two of the disciples. They invited Him to join them and some of the other disciples for supper. During the meal, Jesus revealed Himself to them and then vanished. In verses 36-49, Jesus appears to the eleven as a whole.
The Book of John gives us the deepest look into Jesus’s appearances after His resurrection.
First, He appears to Mary Magdelene at the tomb. Jesus then shows Himself to some of His disciples. He comes back again to let Thomas see Him.
And then…my favorite part happens!
Righting A Wrong
Starting in John 21, Peter gathers up some of the other disciples and tells them that he is going fishing. They joined him, fished all night and caught nothing.
As the sun was rising the next morning, Jesus was waiting on the shore line for them. He called out asking if they had caught anything. After they shouted back with a “no” He told them to throw their nets on the right side of the boat and they would find fish. They threw their nets out again and immediately started catching more fish than they could handle.
One of the disciples cried out, “It is the Lord!”
When Peter heard that, Girlfriend he got on the ball! He was not playing games anymore.
According to the Gospels, Peter had not had an opportunity to talk to Jesus about his betrayal of Him and no doubt it was weighing heavily on his mind.
Suddenly, the man who was afraid of discomfort a little earlier on the story was throwing himself into discomfort…literally!
John 21:7 says that Peter got dressed and jumped into the water. Even though the disciples were bringing the boat to shore, Peter could not wait that long. Jesus had visited for only very short times before and Peter was not going to risk missing his opportunity to talk to Him again.
Peter was not thinking about the discomfort that he would cause himself by recklessly chasing after Jesus. He plunged into possibly cold water. His clothes weighted him down and pulled at his legs making it hard for him to swim. He may have even lost a shoe as he kicked and paddled in the water. Once ashore, his clothes were going to be wet for several hours and his beard and hair would look unruly.
Yet, none of those things mattered to Peter. At that moment, he was willing to go through discomfort to get to his ultimate Comfort.
So I ask you, would we do this? Do we have a Peter spirit that so desperately desires to be in close connection and communication with God that we would be willing to cause ourselves discomfort? Are we ok with inconveniencing ourselves for the sake of Christ? Will we ignore the expectation and perception in order to make Jesus our first priority? Are we ready to jump out of the boat?
Jesus is our Comforter. Comforting His children is part of the very fiber of who He is. However, sometimes, we have to walk through those tough times, put ourselves out there and take a leap of faith to get to our Comfort source. Once we deny ourselves of those temporary comforts, though, we leave room for Jesus to move in and comfort us in ways that we never imagined!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves as comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Don’t Keep A Secret!