Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
A Christian […] is settled, rooted and immersed in the Spirit in a worldwide community of faith that transcends the boundaries of ethnicity, language or denomination. (Markham, previous post)
Many call such a community The Remnant, as in “remaining” believers who do not subscribe to biblical teachings tainted with politics, man-contrived business models, advertising schemes, popular psychology, extra-biblical denominational iterations of Christianity, or any other side-steps that lead, at length, to the broad way, as in,
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14m NASB)
8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.* (-Jesus, quoted in John 10:8-10, NIV)
The First of Us
The biblical narrative reveals who was the first of the Remnant among those who followed Jesus in His day:
Peter’s Confession of Christ
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, [a]Elijah; but still others, [b]Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are [c]the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon [d]Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are [e]Peter, and upon this [f]rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth [g]shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth [h]shall have been loosed in heaven…” (Matthew 16:13-20, NASB)
I love that it was headstrong, proud, impetuous Peter. I mean, he’s so like us in our flawed human state, know what I mean?
I also mean, wouldn’t you have picked the young, sensitive, thoughtful, beautiful John, or the intelligent and highly-educated physician Luke? How about Matthew the tax collector with a knowledge of the ways and wiles of the world? Or…you pick.
However, Jesus realized the Holy Spirit had selected this smelly, sometimes obnoxious fisherman for reasons other than the world picks its VIPs.
Jesus recognized and honored the Holy Spirit’s pick even though Peter would end up, in his boldness and brashness and very human fear, to betray Jesus not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES on the night when Jesus was abandoned in His final hours…
…even though ambitious religious leaders would one day contrive to convince millions, billions, that Peter’s calling was an earthly mission, not a spiritual primacy** though Peter, himself, later on, with time and wisdom, wrote the early Church,
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25)
“Shepherd and Overseer of your souls,” as in Jesus.
The One and only One at the sheep gate…
But I also think it’s because Jesus never gave up on Peter.
And Peter never really gave up on Him.
Here’s the rest of the early story.
After Jesus has risen from the dead the disciples, back in the boats trying to make a living, see Him coming. It was not the first time, but the third they saw him post-resurrection.
This time, however, He asks for food, provides it miraculously (they were having no luck prior), then, well, here’s the whole context:
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me? ”He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”. (John 21:15-17)
(Side note: three for three…)
And Peter RECEIVED FORGIVENESS (thus we are encouraged when we blow it, too).
And he, the first Spirit-filled of the Remnant, was commissioned, even as we are today, now, in each our own spiritual occupation, to “feed the sheep”.
The Remnant Today***
It’s our time, now, down here.
Carry on, and watch this space for more on occupying until He comes.
Which might be soon, by many indicators.
*For more information on this “gate” and salvation and Jesus, see here.
**For any Roman Catholics now or former (I am a former), though my spiritual roots are in Catholicism, you are invited to see when, why, and how I chose faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, here, if you like.
***For an expanded, much more scripturally-sourced definition of The Remnant, I recommend here.