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 21:17
Prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus appeared to seven of his apostles, including Peter. They were fishing when he called to them. He performed one last great miracle for them – the catch of 153 fish in a net that didn’t break. Once all were ashore and eating breakfast with Jesus, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The third time Peter felt hurt by the question, but he replied that Jesus knew he loved him.
The night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter told Jesus he’d die for him. However, Jesus told Pete that he’d deny him three times before morning. He did. Now, once Jesus had been raised from the dead, he asked Pete three times, “Do you love me?” Pete answered to the affirmative each time. We could call this fair turnabout, but it wasn’t. Jesus just checked Pete’s spirit and wanted to know Pete’s heart. Pete answered that Jesus already knew the answer, which he did. The point was that the one who betrayed had now repented and shown true love for the one he’d betrayed.
We betrayed Jesus the day we were born because we were born into sin, as David wrote. There is none righteous. No one is good in their natural state. It takes the supernatural power of Jesus, his sacrifice, and the Spirit resurrecting him to make us righteous. We can be sure that Pete’s mind played havoc on him in the following days of his betraying Jesus, but he came to know the real love of the Savior. He realized, as can you and I, that there is no other in whom we can trust and live. Jesus, alone, can give us eternal life. He is the one who loved us first, so that we could love him no matter what we’ve done in this life. There is forgiveness and mercy in the arms of Jesus.
Father, how can I say thank you for all you’ve done for me other than praising your name and being a living sacrifice to you? As you asked Pete if he loved you, today you do the same of me. I hear your Spirit calling out to me, “Do you love me?” To him and you I can only answer, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” To which you’ve replied, “If you love me, keep my commandments and feed my sheep.” All I can do, LORD, is do just that – love you by obeying you and feeding your sheep as permitted. I will do my best through your Spirit’s grace to do all you’ve assigned me to do. Thank you for loving me, as I do love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.