From Pauses for Pentecost
“Very truly I tell you,
when you were younger you dressed yourself
and went where you wanted;
but when you are old you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
The resurrection encounter between Jesus and Peter ends on a challenging note. After Jesus meets the disciples on the shore and shares fish and bread with them, he goes for a stroll with Peter. As they walk together, Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves him. When Peter responds positively, Jesus commissions him with the task of shepherding his flock. Then Jesus prophesies that Peter will be led into a costly laying down of his life for others.
Following the risen Christ is not always about doing what we like. While there are most certainly moments when we can and must take the initiative in our discipleship, there are also times when we need to be led by Jesus. As it is for Peter, Jesus sometimes asks us to lay down our lives in specific and practical ways for others. But because we follow One who has defeated death, resurrection joy and life will always accompany this laying down of our lives for his sake. As Paul the apostle says, Jesus invites us to share both in the power of his resurrection and in the fellowship of his sufferings.
Jesus may lead us to lay down our lives for others in many different costly ways. We lay down our lives for others when we put aside our own concerns and listen attentively to another person’s pain, when we look not only to our interests but also to the interests of those around us, when we go the extra mile in our efforts to assist materially someone in desperate need, when we give significant time to be with another person experiencing difficulty, and when we risk public criticism for supporting a just but unpopular cause on behalf of others. All these actions, and countless others, are examples of ways the Spirit calls us as Easter people.
I wonder how Jesus is calling you right now to lay down your life for the sake of others. As you respond – like Peter did – you too will reflect the heart of the Good Shepherd who gave his life for us all.
Pray to the Lord today: Jesus, show me that you are leading me to lay my life down in the next few hours for someone in need. Let him lead you into whatever it is that will bring care and concern to someone else.