When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
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. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" John 21:15-19
God’s heart toward us is always leans to reconciliation. If Peter had pledged his allegiance to us, then denied us three times, we might feel that Peter could never be trusted again. If Peter couldn’t be there for us in our time of need, how could we ever count on him for anything else? Out of all of the disciples, the only one who acted worse than Peter was Judas. Maybe it was time to write Peter off. But, this wasn’t Jesus’ response to Peter.
God’s grace overcame Peter’s inability. When Jesus dubbed Peter, “the rock,” (Matthew 16:18)Jesus wasn’t looking at a rock. Jesus was looking at a flake. Peter was the first to jump out of the boat. Peter was the first to declare his allegiance. Peter was the first to draw a sword. Peter was the first crumble under pressure. He was no rock.
Jesus saw something in Peter that Peter didn’t even see in himself. Jesus called Peter. Jesus trained Peter. Jesus restored Peter. Then, Jesus empowered him to serve.
In restoring Peter, Jesus was saying, “You don’t need to lead the charge, Peter. You don’t need to draw a lot of attention. You don’t need to raise your voice or raise a sword. Just feed my sheep.”
When we’re young, it seems that what matters most are the things that draw the most attention. A big result somehow validates our significance. We feel that we are worth something if we have a big win. We don’t really feel more significant. We just become proud.
But, our significance is in Christ. Jesus can accomplish far more through us than we could ever do on our own. Jesus sees potential in us that is beyond our grasp. Jesus also sees that in and of ourselves, we’ll fall flat on our faces. For that He gives us grace.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter went along with the first two, but became irritated at the third question. He didn’t feel badgered as much as he probably felt guilty. The three affirmations began to feel like the three denials. Was a rooster about to crow?
Jesus wasn’t shaming Peter. Jesus was gently restoring him. There was no scolding. There was no ridicule. Jesus was putting Peter back into a right relationship. He knew what Peter could be. Jesus hadn’t given up.
Jesus hasn’t given up on you either. Whatever you thought your life was going to be may have taken a detour toward disappointment. But, your expectations don’t necessarily reflect what God has planned for you. No matter what you’ve done. No matter your success or failure. Jesus sees things in you that you don’t see in yourself. Lean into Him, and He will make it happen.