In our text today, we see an odd juxtaposition of events. Jesus appeared to the disciples and helped them catch exactly 153 fish—quite a take considering the equipment available in those days. He invited them to have breakfast with Him, cooking the fish they caught and enjoying fellowship. Jesus then singled out Peter, asking him, “Do you love Me,” not once, but three times. Finally, after His exchange with Peter, Jesus prophesied that Peter would go to a place where he does not want to go (his death) and ends by saying, “Follow Me.”
By the very definition, a Christian is someone who trusts in and follows Jesus Christ. In the United States, it’s easy to be a Christian. We have the freedom to attend church and tell others of the good news. We tangibly can display our Christian identity without fear of legal consequences. In the United States, being Christian is easy. It’s following Jesus that’s hard.
On a daily basis, we’re exposed to various voices that seek to derail us from following Christ. Television tells us that we need to earn more money to be happy. Some movies tell us marital fidelity is an antiquated paradigm. Other voices will say that to put our hope in the gospel is foolish, as all paths lead to God. It’s tough to follow Jesus when other voices are telling us to follow them.
Follow Him in Little Things
If you notice in our text, Jesus asked Peter and the other disciples to follow Him in a couple of small ways. They followed Him when He told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat, and they followed Him when He invited them to breakfast. Such requests were simple and easy to follow. Yet, often in our lives, following Jesus in the small stuff seems to be the most burdensome. Why? Because it disrupts our routine yet doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
During college, I once was rushing to a meeting that I couldn’t afford to miss. I walked briskly past an elderly person shuffling toward the building with the help of a walker. As I zipped by this person, I opened the door for myself, but then realized that holding the door open for this gentleman would be the more Christlike thing to do. As he entered through the door, he thanked me, gave me a warm smile, and told me how such courtesy was lost in our society. I was only a minute late for my meeting, but in the scheme of things, helping that man was more important. We must be faithful to Christ’s commands even when they seem to be disruptions.
Follow Him in Big Things
When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, his heart grew sad. Jesus’ question reminded Peter of his own failure to follow Christ at an important moment, but Jesus gave him another opportunity by soliciting his faithfulness once again. Jesus had a motive here: He wanted to tell Peter what would come of his loving and following Him: his death. We know from church history that Peter was hung upside down on a cross because he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ.
While we may not suffer the same fate as Peter and the apostles, God nonetheless asks us to follow Him even into the most dire circumstances. Christ told us that if we want to find true life, we must take up our crosses and follow Him (Matt. 16:24-26).
Jesus demands all of us. He wants us to follow Him in the small stuff of life and in the big stuff. Will you listen to His voice? Will you heed His call? Will you follow Him in everything, including death? These are the questions that a true disciple of Jesus must answer every day.
Benjamin Espinoza is the pastor of Community Life at Covenant Church in Bowling Green, Ohio.