I suspect few parents see the Bible as a parenting manual, but its pages are nevertheless brimming with good and practical counsel – made even more incredible given the book’s age.
From warning fathers to not exasperate their children (Ephesians 6:4) to encouraging discipline in the inevitable event of unruly children (Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 29:17), the Scriptures have answers to the challenges that moms and dads are facing.
Sometimes, though, the advice shows up in seemingly unlikely places.
Take, for example, what I might qualify as the greatest breakfast the world has ever seen.
Let me set the scene for you.
In John’s Gospel, we read about that remarkable morning, days or a few weeks after the Resurrection of Jesus, when several of the disciples were out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. According to the account, the crew included Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (James and John) and two other unnamed followers of the risen Lord.
We read that their nets came up empty – but that suddenly Jesus showed up on the shoreline and shouted out to them.
Only they didn’t recognize Him as Jesus.
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” He asked.
They replied no, at which time the Lord suggested they toss the net on the other side of the boat. As you’ll recall, they hauled in 153 fish (someone counted!), suddenly recognized Jesus, and met Him up on the beach for breakfast.
How I would have loved to have been a guest for that morning fish fry!
But it was a remarkable exchange that Jesus had with Peter over the meal that provides parents with great insight on how to handle disappointment with a child – especially a child who has lied and broken your trust.
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” asked Jesus.
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” To which Jesus, replied, “Feed my sheep.”
Two more times Jesus asked Peter to confirm his love for Him, which he did.
Of course, we know that Jesus was giving Peter a chance to repent for his 3 dramatic denials of Christ from Good Friday morning.
I’m struck by Jesus’ graciousness and Peter’s response – and I think there’s a lot moms and dads can learn from the exchange.
First, note that Jesus didn’t browbeat Peter, but instead gave him a chance to repent and reaffirm his faith. He didn’t even bring up the offense. But you can be sure they both knew what the other was thinking.
When our kids go astray, it’s tempting to really let them have it – make them pay for the offense. But Jesus demonstrated that if Peter’s denials were forgivable – surely we should be able to cut our children some slack when they blow it.
Jesus didn’t let Peter off the hook – but He did provide him room to right the wrong.
Peter’s response is also instructive. He didn’t make excuses or try and pin the blame on someone else. He didn’t complain about being put in an impossible situation. He fessed up – and Jesus honored his candidness by restoring him to fellowship.
I wonder how many of you are struggling – or have struggled – with wayward children? Maybe you were one yourself.
If you’re in a trying season of lament right now, please know we’re here to help. Take a big deep breath. It may seem very dark – but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
If Peter could be restored to fellowship to the point of helping lead the expansion of the Christian Church following Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, might you find your way to forgiving and working with your son or daughter to repent and find their way home?