Young children are often spontaneous in their reactions. They don’t sit around and carefully consider how they want others to view them. If they are upset about something, they will dissolve into floods of tears. If they are angry they will say what they are thinking; sometimes even lash out physically. Controlling emotions is something that children learn as they grow older. With it, we tend to lose something of the sense of spontaneity also.
However, spontaneity can be very revealing. We see a person’s true self. They have no time to think things out and modify their reactions. What you see is what they are.
The Apostle Peter retained a larger degree of spontaneity in his character than many people. As a result of this, we see Peter’s love for, and devotion to Christ shining clearly. These ‘signs of love’ are scattered throughout the gospels.
In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 16:21-23), Jesus told his disciples for the first time that he would “suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Peter’s spontaneous reaction was, “Never, Lord!... This shall never happen to you!”. Although Peter was viewing the situation from man’s perspective rather than God’s and spoke unwisely, it revealed that Peter’s immediate instinct was to protect Jesus from this. He loved his Master.
Some time later, as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, tensions were rising among the chief priests and Jewish rulers. They did not share Peter’s love for Jesus; they wanted him dead. We read in John’s gospel that an armed delegation was sent to arrest Jesus. This, to Peter, was unthinkable. He would protect Jesus. “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear." (John 18:10-11).
Peter’s spontaneous action was another ‘sign of love’. Then, after His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself at various times and places to his disciples. One of these is in John’s gospel where, after having caught no fish, Jesus appears to Peter and some other disciples.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (John 21:7)
Peter wasn’t content to be in the boat while his beloved Master stood on the shore. Here we have yet another ‘sign of love’. Doesn’t it warm our hearts when we see these ‘signs of love’ from this Galilean fisherman? How much more was Christ’s heart warmed?
Spurgeon once said:
Let me revel in this one thought: before God made the heavens and the earth, He set His love upon me.
Shall we each endeavour to live in such a way to set our love upon Him and let ‘signs of love’ flow from our lives to Him even as they did from Peter?
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