After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep”. John 21:15-17
This is the last story recorded in the Gospel of John. John relates a story about his friend, and sometime rival, Peter. Peter had recently denied Jesus on the night Jesus had been arrested. This played out just like Jesus had predicted, despite Peter’s vehement belief otherwise. Peter’s denial was three parts, that is, he had been asked three times about his affiliation with the arrested Jesus, and three times, Peter denied his friend and Rabbi.
Now, as part of the restoration, Jesus asks Peter three times if he can be trusted with caring for Jesus’ flock of believers. Peter was hurt and frustrated that Jesus had to ask him three times about his worthiness. More importantly, Peter heard Jesus question his love for Jesus.
I am guessing that Peter began to question himself in that regard. After all, he had promised before to be loyal to Jesus and he had failed miserably. Finally, Peter responded, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”.
I think that was a great response, one of insight. Peter came to understand that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus knew that Peter needed redundant affirmation to be restored to service, so he brought up the three-time denials, and turned that around with three-time exhortations to serve.
The Bible frequently brings up the broken parts of its heroic characters to remind us that all of us have the required characteristics to serve God’s kingdom. We are flawed, yet forgiven.
Ready for service
Prayer: Father, thank you for the plan to restore us as we serve you, Amen.