Healthy Leaders


Jesus Encourages

Howard RichHoward Rich

There is great comfort in how Jesus encourages His stewards.

I have messed up in some pretty embarrassing and humiliating ways in my life. I wish I could have a do-over when that happens; like I sometimes had when I was a kid. I remember learning to play kickball in elementary school and getting a do-over when I was unable to kick the ball on the first try. As an adult, do-overs are few and far between. When I fail, trip, and stumble, I sometimes think about Peter. He experienced some serious highs and lows, times when he could hold his head high, and times when he probably stood in the shadows to hide his shame. I can imagine Peter would have appreciated some do-overs in his life. An amazing thing about Jesus is His ability to encourage His followers when they fail.

Jesus encouraged His inner circle by giving them confidence; one of the ways He did this was by naming them. The names He bestowed upon some of His followers were definitely meant to reinforce His confidence in them. Giving a person a new name is a powerful symbol in the Scriptures. It is a recognition of a new beginning; Jacob becomes Israel (Gen. 32:22-32), Abram becomes Abraham (Gen. 17:1-8), James and John are known as the Sons of Thunder (Mk. 3:13-17), and Simon becomes Peter (Jn. 1:42).

Jesus seems to have given Peter his new name of Rock or Stone based on Peter’s faith and his acknowledgement of Jesus as the Christ (Jn. 1:42; Mt. 16:17); however, Peter sometimes did not stand solidly with His master, going against the trust Jesus placed in him. Immediately following Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about His coming death and resurrection. Jesus, in turn, scolds Peter for not understanding His mission would culminate in the crucifixion and resurrection, even calling His apostle “Satan” for trying to stand in the way of God’s work (Mt. 16:13-23; Mk. 8:27-33). This must have been an incredibly humbling, and even embarrassing moment for Peter.

In John 21:15-17 Jesus and Peter have an intimate and revealing conversation where Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Many things are going on in this passage, but one significant action is Jesus commissioning Peter as a steward. Jesus helps Peter see the correlation between loving his Lord and caring for His sheep, which clearly belong to Jesus. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will care for what I place under your watch.” Peter denied he even knew Jesus on the night of the trial, yet Peter goes on to understand Jesus’ purpose and becomes one of the greatest stewards of Jesus’ commission to go to all the nations. Peter, as the first twelve chapters of Acts attests, became a rock and a recognized leader of the apostles following Pentecost.

Jesus gave Peter a do-over and He can do the same for you. In what areas do you need a do-over as His steward?

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Howard Rich