I have been reflecting on the life of Peter lately. The journey that Peter took from fisherman, to believer, to betrayer, to witness, then to rock of the early church is beautiful. At the last supper Jesus says, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat (Luke 22:31)." Even when Jesus says it, Peter does not believe. There are so many lessons to glean from Peter's story, I keep coming back to one passage though. After the resurrection, when Jesus has already appeared to the disciples, He reinstates Peter in the book of John, "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...John 21:17."
I cannot decide which portion is more poignant, Jesus asking three times or His famous command to Peter. Both portions work in perfect harmony to teach my heart a lesson. Jesus clearly asks Peter if he loves Him three times because of Peter's own denial. I often deny Jesus, usually by way of defiance. Then, after I come crawling or running back, Jesus asks for my patience, love or obedience, and I am hurt. Haven't I told you Lord? I got out of the boat, I followed You.
This passage of scripture says so much about a renewing of our faith. Peter never stopped loving Jesus, he never stopped believing, he just made poor choices. The beauty of grace is that Jesus still lovingly welcomes Peter home. His questioning of Peter is not skeptical, but loving. Jesus knows the answer, even Peter states that the Lord knows all things. I think sometimes we need to speak the truth that we love Jesus and say once again that we will get out of the boat. When Jesus performs the miraculous catch of fish for a second time that is exactly what Peter does, he jumps out of the boat and runs to Jesus. Peter shows Jesus and speaks to Jesus his commitment again. When I deny Jesus, it is absolutely fair and loving of Him to ask me, "April, do you love me?" and instead of feeling hurt, I should jump out of the boat again and say, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you."
Then, grace will enter and Jesus will give me the command to "Feed my sheep." And feed His sheep I will.