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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

I Tell You The Truth...
Date Posted: June 24, 2022

The past two weeks have been spent in examining the possible significance of a repetitive phrase appearing exclusively in John’s rendition of the gospel story; rendered “Verily, verily” in the KJ, “Truly, truly” in the NASB, “I tell you the truth” in the NIV. Used as an introduction to key pieces of scripture throughout John’s chronicle of Jesus’ life and teaching 24times.

However, the singular term “Verily” or “Truly I say unto you”, again translated in the NIV as I tell you the truth, appears 51times throughout the other three Gospels compiled by Matthew, Mark and Luke; possibly diluting the significance of John’s repetitive use of those terms. The “I tell you the truth” of the NIV probably expressing a desire by Jesus to get his listeners’ attention; ‘No, really guys, listen up – this is important!’ While the “Verily, verily” – “Truly, truly” possibly expresses a heightened sense of urgency if not importance. (Although I wouldn’t want to take that point too far.)

Of primary importance to all these scripture references, at least as I see it, is Jesus’ willingness to do whatever it takes to reach out to us in loving grace and mercy – to see us saved from what we are to what we can be. His sacrificial love being expressed, regardless of our response or condition of the moment ( Romans 5:8), because of his genuine desire to see all men saved and made right with God. He goes to great lengths to convey his understanding of God’s will by virtue of his own demonstration of faith and faithfulness in bringing about the redemption of mankind; which does indeed come with the expectation of a response to his offer of “Come, follow me.” A new life exemplified in the character of Peter – a boisterous, vacillating, well-intentioned, emotional, oftentimes brazen – at other times timid – complicated man. One who, because of the extreme range of his emotions and characteristics, most of us can identify with; a man who actually failed his Lord a number of times – suggesting a more acceptable course of action, questioning the direction his Master had chosen to take while forcefully promoting his own understanding and preferred resolution of an issue. At one point, Jesus severely scolded Peter with, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (This event coming close on the heels of Jesus’ “blessing” Simon as Peter – a rock on whom He would build the church. Simon possibly becoming a bit too flattered and pumped up by this compliment and overstepping the bounds of propriety with his Lord almost immediately.) Jesus reminding all who would listen that, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:13-24

And yet, God comforts the downcast and sorrowful; when that sorrow leads to repentance. As “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret (As exemplified by Peter.),but worldly sorrow brings death. (As exemplified by Judas Iscariot.) 2 Corinthians 7:6,9 & 10

This principle is aptly shown through Peter’s interaction with the risen Christ. (John noting it as the third time Jesus had appeared to a number of his followers after his resurrection, this time possibly occurring in the most intimate environment – off alone, with his disciples, quietly eating, discussing – just being together.) As, either taking comfort in doing something familiar or reverting to an old lifestyle, the bulk of the disciples had “gone fishing.” They fished all night but caught nothing. Unrecognized at first, Jesus approached them on shore and inquired as to their catch, advising them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Predictably, the catch was so big they could scarcely haul it in. (Reminiscent of another miraculous incident they had participated in some time before.) Now recognizing who they were dealing with, Peter impulsively jumped overboard and swam to shore, the others following in the boat. Upon landing, they found a fire with fish and bread provided for a meal.

Satisfied by the meal just completed in the company of trusted friends and his Lord, Peter must have felt as content as he had in a while. At that point though, Jesus asked him “Simon... do you truly love me more than these?” A question loaded with implications for Peter’s future life, such as ‘Are you prepared to really abandon your old ways, friends, family, job and home – for me – adopting a new way of doing things in the company of new friends and “family”?’ “...you know that I love you.” was Peter’s reply. Then, “Feed my lambs.”, Jesus said. Moments later, Jesus inquired again, “Simon... do you truly love me?” Possibly a bit embarrassed and now remembering his earlier exclamations of loyalty followed by denial, Peter replied a second time, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Then, “Take care of my sheep.”, Jesus directed. And yet a third time, Jesus pointedly sought an answer to, “Simon... do you love me?” Now genuinely perplexed and maybe even somewhat exasperated, Peter exclaimed “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” Once more, Jesus instructing him to, “Feed my sheep.”

As this idyllic morning ended, Jesus closed his conversation with them much the same as he had started his ministry, by inviting – or commanding – that they/we, “Follow me.” (Included in this discourse was Jesus’ final “I tell you the truth”, comparing Peter’s young, willful days with the condition of his later years. John 21:1-19) Jesus using this experience to reinforce his earlier teachings of, “I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.” And, “As the Father has sent me, …I am sending you.” ( John 13:15, John 20:21)

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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