I’m learning to become excited about Jesus’ ifs. If I want what Jesus wants for my life there is one thing I can count on. It is that what He wants for me is not what I want at first glance. It makes me feel much better to know that the leader of the disciples, Peter, reacts to Jesus’ ifs that way too.
I really appreciate Peter. He always opened his mouth and said what everyone else was thinking but may have been afraid to say. I would rather risk ridicule than to live in ignorance.
Even though Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus did not fire him from being the rock on which He would build His church. He gave Peter far more than a second chance; rather He gave him every chance he needed to make him into the kind of man that legend tells us watched his wife be crucified for her faith, and then asked to be crucified upside down since he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Savior. I love this about Jesus. He doesn’t give up on us even when we would give up on ourselves.
Jesus had a gentle restoration process for Peter, first visiting him privately after His resurrection, then affirming his inclusion with the other disciples when He first revealed Himself to all of the disciples. Ultimately He gave Peter a do-over when He asked him three times if he loved Him, then assigned Him to feed His sheep. During this same conversation, Jesus told Peter how he would be led to a cross.
Peter seemed to digest this reality, but he wanted to know more. He wondered if John would come to the same fate. This was when Jesus explained what it means to fully follow Him. He told Peter:
“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).
Peter’s life demonstrates that he accepted Jesus’ if. He surrendered to the if of Jesus willingly and lovingly. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but He had learned that Jesus’ if was far better for them than any plan he could make for his own life.
The great if leads to a crossroad. Are you willing and ready to walk the path of if? Do you believe that God holds the wisdom you don’t have? Do you want God’s if to play out in your life? Are you ready to open your eyes to what Jesus wants for you?