Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge
As we come to the end of a year, it’s a good time to reflect. How did I live? Am I closer to Jesus now than I was last year? Did I kill that pet sin? What new sins and temptations arose? What idols were torn down or constructed? Although it is uncomfortable, it is important to truly come face to face with where we are with God. Maybe at the end of 2017 you look back with regret or disappointment. This time last year, maybe you made all these grand resolutions about how you were going to live for Christ, things were going to be different, and as you reflect you feel as though you have failed.
There was a disciple in the Bible named Peter. He made some bold statements about what he definitely would and would not do, only to fall flat on his face! In, John 13 he tells Jesus, “…I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” Sure enough, in John 18 Peter denies Jesus three times. Peter had resolved to die for Jesus and while Jesus is dying for him, Peter is denying his friend and Lord. But the resurrected Christ comes to him in John 21:15-22, and gives him another opportunity, a chance at a new beginning, a reminder that He’s not done with Peter just yet. And I believe His word to Peter is His word to you this year.
Love Jesus More
Peter has denied Jesus 3 times, and now his gracious Savior asks him 3 times if he loves Him. If you’ve messed up big last year, if like Peter you said at the beginning of last year, “I’d never do that” and then you did or “I am definitely going to do this” only to fall short, here’s what the risen Jesus wants you to know as you go into 2018: Do you love Him? Not because he doesn’t care about what you do! Rather, He knows that if you love Him, you’ll live for Him. My hope is at the end of each year I can honestly say “I love Jesus more than I did last year.”
Love what Jesus loves
Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. The Shepherd has a special love for the sheep. Of all the things Jesus loves, He loves the church, His sheep, His bride, in a most special way. He says, “feed,” “tend,” and “feed.” What are those? Verbs! The problem at the beginning of a new year is not that we make resolutions; it’s that our resolutions remain intentions! We don’t follow through with action! May your love for Jesus overflow in love for His people this year in action.
Follow Jesus Wherever He leads
Jesus tells Peter that one day he will die for following Him. At first, Peter loved himself and denied Jesus, but later, Peter loved Jesus and denied himself. None of us know which year will be our last. I want to live the remainder of my years investing into a mission that will far outlive me, and into a kingdom that is eternal. Now, when Peter finds out that it will cost him his life, he immediately wonders what will become of John’s life. And Jesus offers a response that is simple and clear – that is none of your business; don’t focus on my plan for him, focus on my will for you. He says, “You follow me!” In 2018, don’t compare God’s plan for you with His plan for others. Love Him. Love the things He loves. And follow Him wherever He leads.