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 21:17
The apostle Peter must have suffered a tremendous amount of guilt after he, unfortunately, fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus laid out to him at the Last Supper.
Jesus had told Peter that he would be a betrayer when the times got hard, but Peter in his pride and arrogance protested. Alas, as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed at that courtyard after Jesus had been arrested.
Peter was devastated and was in need of personal healing from Jesus. He may have known that he was forgiven by Jesus’ death, or maybe not. Such a truth is so overwhelming and earth changing, the disciples perhaps had only a glimmer of this truth at that point. But Peter needed a personal touch from Jesus.
So, at the end of Jesus’ stay on earth, Jesus had some unfinished business with Peter. Jesus took him aside and reminded him of his threefold denial of Jesus with a threefold question of Peter: “Do you truly love me?”
Peter must have known that Jesus was reliving that denial scene at the time of the arrest, and he was troubled that Jesus really would question his love. “Surely you know that I love you Jesus” Peter said, “You know all things!” Jesus, in his profound wisdom, knew that Peter needed to own his past sins in a very clear way to know the impact of them. Peter needed to learn about remorse, not just forgiveness. Remorse is contrition driven by seeing the pain of the one offended, not mainly for the remediation of the pain of the offender. Jesus, when the lesson was sufficiently understood by Peter, offered not just forgiveness, but meaningful restoration. “Feed my sheep” Jesus said.
So often our guilt separates us from true fellowship with Jesus. Jesus will have none of it, and instead offers us a place of meaning and dignity. He is that kind of Redeemer!
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us the Son who not only teaches us forgiveness, but also restoration and dignity. What an amazing gift and plan! Amen.