My brother, Peter, is dead. I know he now lives with Jesus, but I didn’t always hold that belief. As I look back just a few years, I remember two events which are etched forever in my memory …
I listened as my brother spoke about Jesus. I didn’t understand why he left fishing to follow an itinerant preacher. But then Simon was always a rebel. Why, he even changed his name to Peter. He said the preacher gave him this new name. Now this preacher had been dead for three days, but Simon still raved about Him.
It was early on Sunday morning and Simon-Peter ran into the house. He was smiling and nearly laughing. “Do you know what He said to me? He said that I would deny Him three times. I didn’t believe it, but He was right. He said He would die a horrible death, and He did. He also said He would rise from the dead and He did – just this morning. I saw Him.”
I stuttered “What?”
Peter looked me in the eyes and replied, “Hannah, He has risen. Our Lord is alive. I saw Him this morning, but now I cannot find Him. I’ve searched all over. I’m puzzled and don’t know what to do, so I guess I’ll go back to fishing. While there, I can think about what He meant when He told me to strengthen my brothers.”
I thought it seemed odd that Peter would go back to fishing when he was so excited about Jesus being alive. But then I couldn’t always understand my brother’s motives. I shrugged off the feelings of unease and continued about my life and doing what was expected of me.
The second event that I so clearly remember happened about one week later. Peter returned, excited about something. He hugged me.
“Hannah, I finally understand His message. Jesus is the covenant – the sacrifice – that God made with us. We were fishing this morning and He appeared to us and told us to fish on the right side of the boat. We caught 153 fish and could barely haul them to shore.
“On shore, Jesus asked me three times if I love Him. As I answered yes the third time, I realized He forgave me my earlier denial of Him. I have been redeemed by His blood.
“You see, I drifted away, but I am now back and I can use His wisdom and knowledge to strengthen my brothers. I can build them up for the glory of our Lord. That’s what He meant when He said ‘And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’”
Peter took my hands in his and spoke softly, yet with conviction. “Hannah, you can also experience His redemption and mercy.”
I sighed, “Peter, I just don’t understand. I haven’t seen Jesus alive again.”
“You don’t have to because He lives within us. He gives us an inner strength – a power that is not from ourselves, but Him. I must go out and teach others about Him. Hannah, I want you to understand.” Peter looked so deeply into my eyes it almost scared me.
I looked away. “Peter, I will listen and perhaps you can convince me later.”
Peter’s eyes twinkled as he answered me. “It is not I who will convince you to believe.”
I didn’t understand his statement at that time, but now I do. Just a few days ago, I finally accepted Jesus into my heart. How Peter praised God for this. Now Peter is dead. I am saddened by my brother’s untimely death, but I rejoice because we will see one another again. Now, my brother’s inner strength, which is Christ, has become mine. I will carry on and bring good news to all I meet.
Luke 22:32(b) And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
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