I read an article a few years ago about the top 10 things that people love to hear. One of the things that people love to hear is their own name, if you can remember someone’s name after first meeting them, they will think you’re a genius and/or the nicest person in the history of the world. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it’s hovering around the truth. As an experiment, the next time you talk to someone you just recently met, make a sincere effort to remember their name and watch as their face lights up when you say it. It’s a thing.
The top 3 things that people love to hear are, I love you, I forgive you, and dinners ready (or supper if you live in the south). It reminds me of John 21: 1-19. This portion of scripture takes place after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, some of the disciples have seen Jesus but I would imagine they were all still in shock, especially Peter. Poor Peter, he had just had the most devastating week of his life, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times, which he did, the third time to a young girl. And then Jesus is crucified and buried in a tomb, the emotions that were swirling around inside of him must have been crippling. So, he gets up and decides he’s going to go back to what he knows which is fishing. He might have thought that he could just disappear into the world of fishing and try to forget all that had taken place, especially his own failings. But then Jesus appears, cooking some fish on the shore. They don’t recognize him at first, no doubt lost in their thoughts of recent events. But then Jesus asks them if they caught any fish, “no” they answered so Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side, something he had said to them before, in fact the day Peter first met Jesus. Then John says “it’s the Lord!”, Peter jumps into the water and gets to Jesus as fast as he can. Now what is Peter feeling? Elation? Fear? Shame? Probably a mixture of the three. So he gets to the shore and Jesus tells him, dinners ready, he has cooked for them. Jesus has served Peter and the other disciples in a very simple but intimate manner. Cooking and eating a meal together is something families do, they come together, they eat, they talk, they reconnect. That’s what Jesus was doing, reconnecting with Peter, reminding Peter that he still loved him and that Peter still had a job to do, feed my lambs. In Mark 16:7, the angel tells Mary Magdalene and the others to tell the disciples “and Peter” that Jesus is risen. God wanted to make sure that Peter knew he was still loved, he was still wanted, that he was forgiven.
God is so loving toward us. In Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just like Peter, God still loves us in spite of our failings. Even after our most devastating betrayal and rebellion, God shares with us a message of love, forgiveness and intimacy. He calls us by name, he hasn’t forgotten us. (Isaiah 49:15,16). He offers us his forgiveness (Colossians 1:14), the free gift of eternal life. And shows us that he loves us (John 3:16).
No matter what you’ve done or where you are in your life today, God is still saying those things to you. He knows you, he loves you, he forgives you and he invites you to be a part of the family of God. You are just one prayer away from that kind of intimacy with your heavenly Father. It’s as simple as praying this, God forgive my sins, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross in my place, and that he rose again. I receive your forgiveness. Thank you that I am a child of God. Amen.