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)
To appreciate this story of Jesus appearing to Peter after this resurrection we have to remember that Peter is the disciple that denied being a follower of Jesus three times. Jesus is giving Peter a chance to make amends for his denials. Jesus starts out by asking if Peter loves him more than the other disciples do. Peter responds by affirming his love for him. Then Jesus tells him to feed his lambs. This goes on for a second time and by the third time, Peter is feeling hurt by Jesus’ repetition of asking the question. Jesus is not looking for some emotionless answer. He wants to know if Peter truly loves him. By the third time, Peter’s heart begins to break. Peter says that Jesus knows his heart and that he truly loves him. Peter appeals to Jesus’ all-knowing power and that he sees the inside of his heart.
I love this story. Imagine how Peter was feeling at the time of the death of Christ. He had just denied knowing Jesus three times, then he sees Jesus and remembers the prediction he made that Peter would do that. That is the last time he saw Jesus! Imagine the grief he felt because Peter did not understand that he was going to see Jesus again. In his mind the last time Jesus saw him, he was a failure. To live with that feeling for a few days would have been brutal. I bet he replayed that scene in his mind a hundred times after Christ died on the cross.
Luckily for Peter, that’s not where the story ends! After his resurrection we see Jesus giving Peter a chance to made amends for his denial. Remember, Peter was a disciple that was always bold in his talk of how much he loved Jesus. He was the one that cut off a guard’s ear when they came to arrest Jesus. He was passionate about his love for his teacher! Peter denied Jesus three times, so he had to be questioned by Jesus three times to see if he really loved him. In our walk with the Lord, we sometimes talk a big game. We say we will do bold things for his name but when the time comes we choke. Like Peter, we need to face Jesus and repent. We need to express to him that we love him, and we want to do better.
Just like Jesus gave Peter a second chance and used him in mighty ways. He will give us more opportunities and still wants to use us. It is up to us to follow him. Jesus is looking for sincere followers who will take care of his flock. We all have a responsibility to love other believers, especially the ones that are in our local church. We should be encouraging them in their lives, possibly helping them out financially, and helping them become more and more like Christ. How can you help shepherd the people at your church? What ministry is Christ calling you to take part in or maybe lead?