Bible Ballistics: The Restoring Shepherd??? Vol 4 #5
Last week we talked about the ‘Good Shepherd’, and what our ‘Good Shepherd’ has done, is doing and will do for us. I’d like to continue in that thought, considering the ‘Restoring Shepherd’; the shepherd who restores the wandering, weak, confused and broken to useful service.
Luke 22:31-32 records the response that Jesus gave to Peter upon his declaration that he would go to death for Him. Here Jesus predicted Peter’s failure and ‘restoration’.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”
Here on the last night with his Savior, Peter declares his unshakeable faith while Jesus warned that he would stumble, publicly and blatantly. The shepherd warned Peter that he was not invincible, as most of us think we are. This great, ‘Good Shepherd’ was warning and preparing Peter for what lay ahead. But He also shared the two things that I want to focus on today; that Peter would be ‘converted’ and that when he was, he should then ‘strengthen’ others.
The word ‘converted’ here, means, “to turn, to turn towards or return”. Not that Peter would “loose” his salvation but that he would ‘turn away’, but Jesus would ‘turn’ him back, would ‘convert’, or restore him. Not back to salvation, but back to useful service and in his restoration, Jesus gave him a task—to ‘strengthen’ his brethren. The restored are to strengthen others in need.
Strengthen means, “to set fast, (lit) to turn resolutely in a certain direction, to confirm, …. to stablish, strengthen, to steadfastly set”. Peter was to establish his brethren resolutely in a certain direction—following the risen Lord, because he himself would be restored and established when he saw his weakness and Christ’s strength– which he would experience powerfully at Pentecost. But how did this restoration take place? Luke 22:62 reveals Peter’s bitter tears of regret, and I think repentance. But Jesus died before He could tell Him how sorry he was to have failed HIM.
“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 reveals this kind of sorrow, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Not just sorry for being caught but ‘godly sorrow’, which leads one to repentance.
In John 21 we are given the account of this “Restoring Shepherd”. After the resurrection of Jesus and their seeing the risen Lord, several of the disciples went fishing. There the Lord appeared to them and made them breakfast at the lakeshore. After breakfast, we see Jesus speak personally to Peter. In this encounter, Jesus spoke in such a way that brought healing and restoration.
John 21:15-19, “ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”
I wish we had time to search the depths of this marvelous message, but suffice for now, to take from it a bit of solid assurance in our ‘Restoring Shepherd’ and His tender care. Just as God restored Elijah to strength after he fled from Jezebel, Jesus brings clear assurance to Peter that HE, in fact, did indeed ‘know all’, and HE was not finished with Peter. Just as Peter denied his Lord three times, Jesus asked him three times of his love—three times HE asked—three times Peter declared his love for the Lord. In this last response Peter, I think, understood that Jesus did indeed know and still loved him. While Peter wept on that staggeringly frightening night of the Lord’s ‘passion’, he now has faced this denied Lord and felt the ‘restoring’ hand of his ‘Good Shepherd’.
Peter not only encountered true acceptance and restoration but also a revelation that he would stand fast for his Lord and never deny Him again. That he would, in fact, die for his Lord. Oh, what that must have meant to Peter—that his hasty declaration of steadfast devotion that failed, was past and he would be privileged to actually faithfully stand for Jesus, unto his death for His Lord. His faithfulness would be a lesson for the world. He would ‘feed my sheep’!!!
Do you have a failure that is haunting you? Have a need that no one else knows about, but makes you feel like a failure to your Lord? Do you perhaps not even know this Lord and wonder if would accept you? Well, the good news is—this Good Shepherd– who died for the world, is reaching out to you!! Whether you need to come to Him for salvation, or you need a touch of restoring love and grace. This same Jesus is reaching out to you, as Jesus himself said in the Revelation –
Revelation 3:20-21, “ Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
He is waiting for you to open the door. This ‘Good Shepherd’, this ‘door of the sheep’, is waiting for YOU. He still SAVES—He still RESTORES. Look up!!!