Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Heart Of The Matter

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

29th May 2011

A most terrifying and at the same time, comforting, thought is that Jesus knows our hearts. When we face the truth about our own heart, we find two things:

  • At time our heart is desperately wicked, strays from God, and seeks our own way; but at the same time
  • We find that our heart is good and has been changed by God Himself.

We have two natures which the Scripture refers to as the old nature and the new nature. Our journey with Christ invites us, with the Spirit’s help, to crucify the old nature and its desires and strengthen and feed the new nature.

In John 21, we find an exchange between Jesus and Peter which really gets to the heart of the matter.

When Jesus foretold his crucifixion to his disciples, Peter had boldly rebuked Jesus telling him that he was wrong (Matthew 16:22). Later when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and told his disciples that one of them would betray him, Peter had a moment of self-awareness and asked if it were him, however moments later he assured Jesus that even if everyone betrayed him, he would not. Jesus proceeded to tell Peter that he would, in fact, deny him three times before morning. During Jesus’ darkest hours, Peter bitterly denied even knowing Jesus.

After his resurrection, Jesus very purposefully sends word to Peter that he is alive. Then we find this exchange between Peter and Jesus in John 21.

After their breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The word that Jesus used when he asked Peter if he loved him was “agape”. In the Greek, this particular word we translate love means the God-kind of love, a self-sacrificial love.

Each time Peter answered, “Lord, you know I love (phileo) you,” and used the Greek word that means brotherly love.

This can easily lead us to believe that Peter lacked a sacrificial love for Christ, but is there more to it?

Was Jesus taking Peter back to his earlier cockiness, focusing his attention on the pride that had been in Peter’s heart? He began this conversation by asking Peter, “Do you love me more than the rest of these guys do?”

Just days before, Peter would have said, “Of course, Lord, you know I’m your number one supporter.”

But now, Peter is more aware of his own heart. He has faced the depths of his own humanity, his own failure. Now Peter simply responds, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you like a brother.”

No longer is Peter willing to proclaim his superiority to the other disciples. He has faced the truth of his own heart.

Rather than being disappointed with Peter’s reply perhaps Jesus was pleased with this response.

We all know Peter had failed. We all know that Jesus was disappointed in Peter’s failure, but here Jesus was not focusing on His disappointment with Peter. He was initiating a life-changing encounter that would enable Peter to go forward in taking the gospel to the world.

Maybe Jesus was rather happy that Peter now knew more about his own heart than he had just days before. Peter was in a place where Jesus could work with him.

The cocky boldness that had characterized Peter before was transformed and used as strength. On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:23), Peter stands boldly on the truth of Christ’s crucifixion (which he had rebuked Jesus for even suggesting) and challenges the religious leaders of the day.

Peter had an amazing ministry, but he realised that the only way to complete it was to depend upon Christ. His heart was purified in new ways as he learned from his own experience that “Without him, I can do nothing, but with him I can do all things.” (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).

Where are you in your walk with God? Are you willing to face the truths about your own heart?

Would you invite God’s Spirit to show you your heart?

When you do, like Peter, you’ll find that His Spirit will transform you in deeper ways than ever before.

Have a good week getting to the heart of the matter.

Pastor Barry

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