On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus Christ revealed Himself to His disciples for a third time after His resurrection. During this encounter, recorded in John 21, Jesus had a very intimate conversation with Peter that is equal parts encouragement, commandment, and admonishment.
As Jesus probes Peter regarding his depth of commitment in John 21:15-17, He confronts Peter three times (much like Peter was confronted three times about his level of commitment to Jesus on the night of his Messiah's arrest and trial). Through this conversation, Jesus is also reiterating His admonition to Peter from Luke 22:32 "...when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
At the beginning of John 21, Peter was clearly not strengthening his brethren. He was going back to being a fisherman - his old way of life. Even though he had seen Jesus twice since His resurrection, Peter was still opting to go back to what he knew.
These were the actions of a man who had proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16), wanted to be entirely washed (John 13:9), swore that he would never deny Jesus and that he would rather lay down his life for his Lord (Matthew 26:33,35; Mark 14:29,31; Luke 22:33; and John 13:37). Yet, when the situation was presented to him, Peter retreated from all of his bravado and promises and chose instead to hide in the protective anonymity of the shadows. Even at the point of his conversation with Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter was professing his unfaltering love for Jesus. The piercing question that Jesus was countering with was, "Do you really love me?"
It's not hard to imagine a follow-up conversation like, "Did you ever really mean all those things that you said? I asked you to stay with me the night that I was arrested, yet you fell asleep. You promised that you wouldn't deny me, but then you swore that you didn't even know me three times. I asked you to come back and take care of everything that I had built with you for three-and-a-half years, and instead you walked out to go back to your old job."
Why do I bring all of this up?
...because in many ways, you and I are like Peter. We have likely each had a very intimate conversation with Jesus. We have promised to lay down our lives for Him. We have been commissioned to go forth and strengthen others with the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. And at times, we have also likely been reminded of our failings. How have we responded to those reminders?
We definitely live in an age where it is easier to hide in the protective anonymity of the shadows. What will it take for us to have the courage and strength to actually do what we said that we'd do?
As we are faced with certainties, it is all the more imperative for us to keep hold of the core of our beliefs. Difficulties have a way of shaking our foundations, but we must have the strength and courage to uphold our covenant with God.
I pray that you have a spiritually uplifting and strengthening Sabbath.