Scripture: John 21:15 When (the resurrected Jesus and his disciples) had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Observation: Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus. Three times Peter responded in the affirmative. Why ask three times? Scholars believe Jesus’ questions refer back to Peter’s denial of Jesus three times after Jesus was arrested and crucified. In essence, through this exchange, Jesus did two key things. First, Jesus forgave Peter for having failed him in his hour of great need. This was a powerful moment of grace for Peter. Second, Jesus gave Peter a very important job – to be the leader of the other apostles and their followers. Peter, at some level, became Jesus’ replacement after Jesus ascended to the Father.
I love reading about Peter. He was something of a spontaneous person who often failed to think things through before acting. I also suspect Peter was an extravert in that he didn’t filter his words much before speaking. But what strikes me most is that, despite his many flaws, Jesus never gave up on Peter.
Application: I try hard, but I still make mistakes on a regular basis. And, as I suspect may be true for many of you, I tend to see my mistakes much more vividly than my successes. I can beat myself up pretty good if I’m not careful. This passage reminds me that Jesus never gives up on his disciples – even when we fail miserably. He is far more patient with me than I am patient with myself. It’s Jesus’ profound grace and mercy that gives me hope for tomorrow – mistakes and all.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, have mercy on us. Give us grace that we might overcome our shortcomings to be used by you for your glory. Amen.