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!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. ” (John 21:15–25, NIV)I find it interesting that God inspires John to end his gospel with this interaction between Jesus and Peter. Interesting, and I believe, purposeful.
These are the last words that Jesus intends to have resonating in the heart of Peter for a very long time. And as we read them, they should resonate in our heart as well. For which one of us cannot relate to the pain that Peter feels? He walked with Christ. He confessed Him as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. He witnessed His miracles and then in a moment of panic and despair, he denied that he ever knew Him.
We do the same when we see our problems as too big for God to handle. When we know the right thing and choose to do the wrong thing. When we, like Peter, fail the Lord and flee from His presence. And it won’t happen just once - for we are prone to wander.
But listen carefully to the words of Jesus. He speaks not with criticism, but with acceptance. Not with humiliation, but with love. He asks us to consider our response to Him in view of His great love for us. He doesn’t tell us to “try harder”, He calls us to find our identity in Him. Not our perfection, but His.
This message of worth and value should resonate for a lifetime. God loves us not because of what we do (or don’t do) for Him. Our value is based on who we are in Him: Covered in grace, completely forgiven and deeply loved. Nothing we do, as a child of God, can diminish His sincere affection for us and it will not alter His promise of redemption and our glorious inheritance as God’s own possession.
These are Jesus’ parting words that He intended for Peter to hold onto for a lifetime. As we read them, He intends the same in our life as well. You are not holding on to Him…He is holding on to you.
To the praise of His glory!!!