Reading the Word
John 21:15–19 (ESV)
15 When they 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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Understanding and Applying the Word
After Jesus’ resurrection, there probably was no one more ashamed of their actions than Peter. He had promised to stand at Jesus’ side come what may, but when Jesus was arrested, Peter had run away and left Jesus alone. When Peter was asked by others if he was one of Jesus’ followers, he denied that he even knew Jesus. And Jesus knew this was the case. He had predicted it and had witnessed Peter’s actions. So, while Peter was happy that Jesus was alive, he was surely feeling great remorse for what had transpired.
Jesus spoke with Peter and asked him if Peter loved him. He asked him three times, which is the same number of times that Peter had denied being one of Jesus’ followers. Each time, Peter affirmed his love for Christ and each time Jesus instructed Peter to care for his followers. Jesus used these questions and instructions to encourage Peter that, even though he had failed, Jesus was not done with him. He was still very important to Jesus and he was still going to play a vital role in the days ahead.
We must not think that just because we have failed in the past that we are no longer useful to Jesus. We too can acknowledge our sin, turn our hearts to Jesus, and serve him with our lives. We all fail. Thankfully, we have a Savior who stands ready to forgive us and restore us. What a wonderful savior!
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