In today’s post, I’ll continue exploring the impact Tabgha had on me during our recent visit to Israel. My last post ended with these words:
The significance of Tabgha is much more profound than the Risen Lord preparing a ‘meal of love’ to encourage his disillusioned friends. Jesus is about to use a ‘meal of love’ as the prelude to delivering a profound pivotal spiritual lesson to the most discouraged of his disciples, Peter.
Peter is the disciple with whom I relate most.
Peter was impulsive.
Peter was verbal and sometimes failed to recognize it’s better to remain silent than speak before thinking. Like me, Peter tended to lead with his mouth. I can only imagine, more than once, Peter berated himself with words similar to those I’ve uttered silently, “Good, grief, why in the world did you say THAT?!”
Peter’s intentions were great, and he had a good heart. But, there were times when the rubber of this impetuous man’s faith met the road of reality, and the truth revealed his well-intentioned values were more aspirational than actual.
In spite of Peter’s failures, he loved Jesus with fierce passion. Jesus also loved Peter, and never failed to lose sight of his friend’s potential and God-designed purpose.
The connection between Jesus, Peter and Tabgha began long before the ‘last-breakfast’ encounter. Soon after Jesus began his earthly ministry, he invited a unique band of twelve men to be his primary disciples. It was at Tabgha, a premier fishing site, where Jesus called the first of these disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John.
For three years Peter walked mile upon mile with Jesus. This Jewish fisherman boy’s faith tradition was stretched to the max by his rabbi’s teaching. He observed miraculous healings. He was privy to Jesus’ challenge of the religious leaders. Along the way, Peter became convinced Jesus was the Messiah about whom he’d heard since childhood. Ultimately, he pledged his undying allegiance to Jesus, and then…
Peter betrayed Jesus. When the words the Teacher had told his disciples about his impending death became a reality,
Peter denied knowing the most significant person in his life.
Peter yielded to the terror.
Oh, the shame Peter must have felt that morning while fishing off the shores of Tabgha!
Shame is a terrible, tyrannical taskmaster. On the shores of Tabgha in the early dawn, Peter was about to learn the truth of words Christine Caine says in the preface to her book, Unashamed, “Shame hides in plain sight and can hold us back in ways we do not realize. But…God is…more powerful than anything you’ve done…”
After Peter and the other disciples ate the breakfast Jesus prepared for them, Peter experienced
the restoration that comes because of Jesus’ resurrection.
the freedom that comes because of Jesus’ redemption.
the rehabilitation that comes because of Jesus’ restoration.
The man who’d walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus and learned from Jesus was about to become the leader of the soon-to-be-formed movement, which would be called Christianity,
a movement that would change the world.
a movement that would demand a high price.
a movement that has remained real and relevant for over 2000 years.
On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, I walked in contemplation on the beach of Tabgha. I considered my own shame and the times when I have so miserably missed the mark. But, as I walked, I remembered.
The resurrection of Jesus assures me the price was paid for my failures—or the failures of others—that have caused me shame.
When I’m willing to acknowledge my mistakes and missteps and then ask for and accept Divine forgiveness, the redemption of Jesus assures my freedom.
Because God is always for me, doesn’t hold a grudge against me nor keep record of my forgiven wrongs, the same restoration Jesus gave Peter is mine. I can journey through life with security and significance.
This beautiful bird seemed to mirror my contemplative mood on Tabgha.
Peter never forgot the powerful lessons he learned on the beach of Tabgha, and I too shall never forget!
I hope sincerely the truths I was reminded of will speak in some way to you. It would be nice if we could meet today and visit on some nice warm beach. (I’m becoming tired quickly of our freezing winter weather in Coeur d’Alene.) Since that’s not likely,
I pray each of us will feel the warmth of God’s love today….
This Catholic church is located on the beach of Tabgha.
This big tray of “Peter” fish, a type of tilapia found in the Sea of Galilee, was our lunchtime fare at a restaurant located near the Sea. I prefer a nicely boned filet of salmon, but won’t forget this culturally-relevant meal.