He said to him the third time, “…do you love Me?” JOHN 21:17
Jesus comes to Peter and asks him a third time: Do you love Me? Yes, this is in reference to the three times Peter denied Him. However, Jesus already knows how much Peter lives Him. This question isn’t for Jesus; it’s for Peter.
Peter was so self assured before, emotionally charged and ready to die with Jesus. Yet a few hours later, he has denied Him three times. Jesus knee this would happen. Jesus isn’t asking because He is wondering if Peter will be faithful…Jesus knows all things as Peter Himself said. Jesus wants Peter to realize for himself that he loves Jesus.
The burning question asked a third time is so that it will sink in. The pain of remembering how Peter denied Him must come to solidify the forgiveness and future desired. Peter had been forgiven by Jesus but not forgiven himself. He was content to go back to fishing. However Jesus comes with His continued plan from the beginning: to make Peter a fisher of men. Before Peter could fish for men, he had to realize his love for Christ and Christ’s love for Him.
Our love for Jesus cannot be formed in the passionate zeal of a moment. It must come in the realization of being loved and accepted after a bitter failure. Jesus asks do we love Him so as to remind us that our love is fleeting and often only skin deep but He some knows hearts. We truly only love Him because He first loved us and continues to love us right where we are.
What does it look like for you to “love the Lord”?
Have you been so zealous for the Lord and then blown it? What was the restoration process like?
Do you feel like you’ve forgiven yourself?
How has the Lord’s forgiveness and acceptance affected you?
Do you feel like God’s call and plan has changed for your life?