THE BOTTOM LINE
Usually the phrase “the bottom line” refers to the net profit gained or lost with a business after expenses. But the phrase is also used in a variety of other contexts to note the essential or most important consideration for an endeavor, decision, or result. What is the bottom line when it comes to following Jesus and serving Him? An exchange between Jesus and the Apostle Peter following his well-known triple denial of Jesus the night He was arrested suggests an answer to the question.
Those familiar with the biblical record will remember earlier that night Peter boasted “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:35). He was responding to Jesus’ warning and referring to his fellow apostles. In response to Jesus’ prophesy Peter would deny Him three times Peter insisted “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (verse 35). Jesus, of course, was right and Peter was wrong.
The exchange between Jesus and Peter I find so comforting and encouraging occurred early one morning a few days following Jesus’ resurrection on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The editors of my Bible have the heading “Jesus Reinstates Peter” over the section beginning in John 21:15. Jesus asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” I’m not sure what Jesus meant by “these,” but His question is clear. Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” And Jesus commissions him, “Feed my lambs.”
Two more times Jesus asked Peter the question. And most observers think Jesus asked him three times because Peter had denied Jesus three times. Peter said yes the next two times and Jesus responded “Take care of my sheep” and “Feed my sheep.” We can relate to Peter I’m sure when John tells us “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time” but Jesus was making a point. And the point was, and still is, that the bottom line for following Jesus and serving Him—no matter how miserably we have failed—is our love for Jesus.
In volume 2 of his brief books John for Everyone N.T. Wright affirms, “Here is the secret of all Christian ministry, yours and mine, lay and ordained, full-time or part-time. It’s the secret of everything from being a quiet, back-row member of a prayer group to being a platform speaker at huge rallies and conferences. If you are going to do any single solitary thing as a follower and servant of Jesus, this is what it’s built on. Somewhere, deep down inside, there is a love for Jesus” (p. 165).
I think Wright’s right. What do you think?
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