I’ve thought about writing a devotional book with stories about the compassion of Jesus. Here is a sample. Any feedback welcome.
As they sat there keeping warm by the fire, Christ turned to look at his old friend. Peter, though delighted to be there, delighted to be with the Master, was still troubled. The rough, Galilean fisherman looked out across the water, at the morning sunlight dancing on the waves, at the boat–the net still dripping with water from the morning catch. He felt the coarse sand between his toes. He smelled the fish leftover from breakfast. This was home to him, where his heart felt free. Yet even as he took it all in he heard the Master ask, “Peter, do you love me more than these?”
A knife pierced Peter’s heart. Almost without thinking came his simple reply, “Of course, Lord, you know that I love you.” He dared to glance at Jesus before quickly looking down and drawing aimlessly in the sand. His mind flashed back to the high priest’s courtyard.
“Feed my lambs” was the Master’s reply.
Peter was restless now. As he started to rise the Master asked again, “Peter, Do you truly love me?” Something like fear mixed with sorrow welled up in his heart.
“What do I say now?” he asked himself. Then, after some hesitation, he simply replied to his Lord, somewhat falteringly, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” The gentle lapping of the waves on the shore sounded deafening in the silence that followed. The coals glowing from the morning’s fire reminded him of another fire—the blaze that awful night.
Then finally came the Master’s reply, “Take care of my sheep.”
The sun was rising, but to Peter it somehow seemed colder. He was shivering a little. The chirping and squawking of the shorebirds down by the lake reminded him of another bird’s call– the cock’s crowing. He remembered the look Jesus had given him. But he realized that that look had not been one of accusation, but one of sorrow. He had let his master down.
Tears started filling his eyes before the next question was asked: “Peter, do you love me?” Again his mind went back to that night, the fire, the accusations. The denial. Peter was hurt, the pain was deep. But broken hearts do not heal without the pain of an expert surgeon’s knife. The denial had to be addressed. It could not be ignored.
His master had confronted him about the denial, but not with harsh words. There was only love in the Savior’s eyes. Love freely given despite Peter’s actions. Love beyond reason. Finally Peter understood, and the shame that had plagued him the past few weeks started to fade. He was free to seek true repentance. The reply to the Lord’s question came from deep within, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you”.
The master’s reply was simple. “Feed my sheep.” But Peter heard something more. Though not audible, Peter clearly heard Jesus say: “Peter, I forgive you. Peter, I forgive you. Peter, I forgive you.”