Immaturity in God’s Disciples.
Jesus tells Peter that when he was young, he girded himself and went where he wanted to. It was about Peter and what he wanted to do. Gird means to buckle your belt, that is, you took care of yourself. That hadn’t gone so well for Peter; he couldn’t handle the pressure and denied Jesus three times. When Jesus said this to Peter he had just finished addressing Peter’s denials and the consequential self-doubt and self-loathing. Jesus then restored Peter to friendship and position. (he is back on the job).
Peter had thought that he had to prove his love for Jesus. He had thought that it was about “How much he loved Jesus”. He had to learn that singing the old hymn, “Oh, How I Love JESUS” is not enough to keep you going.
There comes a point for each believer of failure and self-doubt. It is here, at this lowest point, that we finally hear Jesus say, “I love you as you are right now, serve me anyways.” Or “serve me even though you are still weak and imperfect."
Once you reach this point the focus shifts from our love for Jesus, to his love for us. It is at this point that we can embrace sacrifice, suffering, and rejection for him.
Peter does mature. He does step up and serve Jesus as he is. 1st and 2nd Peter demonstrate the change from how much he loved Jesus, to glorying in how much Jesus loved him; how much Jesus had done for him. In 1st Peter 1:1-5 Peter talks about all that God has done for him; for us. He immediately goes from that foundation to our faith being tested and bringing about the “precious trial” of our faith.
Jesus had prayed for Peter that his faith fail not. Luke 22:32. It would appear that it failed at the crucifixion of Jesus, but it did not. That was just a moment of stumbling. BUT faith will always stumble when it is based on the wrong foundation. For Peter, that wrong foundation was, “oh, how I love Jesus”.
Our love for Jesus is never the foundation of our service. It can not hold up to the trials of our faith. When Jesus is our foundation, when his love is our anchor and we BELIEVE IT, then it is seen or evidenced in how much we love him. (Our love for him is seen in our love for others. No love for others means no love for Jesus. See Mark 13:29-31.) When we are convinced of His love for us and our love to him reciprocates, then our faith is seen in our willingness to sacrifice and obey in loving others.
It is sacrificial love that is obedience to the great commission to go and make disciples, to evangelize for Him. (Remember that David says that the sacrifice God looks for are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Psalm 51:17. When that sacrifice is in place, then God will be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness. Psalm 51:19.)
IT IS TOO OFTEN ABOUT US, THE BELIEVER, AND SELDOM EVER ABOUT JESUS. PAUL SAYS THAT JESUS IS THE FOUNDATION. see 1st Corinthians 3:11. Peter had to get over himself; his successes and his failures. So do we.