Jesus always offers us exactly what we need in our current situation. He had a special job for Peter to do and Peter wasn’t doing it. Peter had to move on, start making some forward progress. He needed to get unstuck from all of the barriers that were holding him back. We need to deal with our past by experiencing the forgiveness that Jesus brought to us on the cross. But we also need to understand that his grace is enough to cover forgiving ourselves as well. It is a part of the package.
2. There is more to this than breakfast: After breakfast, Jesus singled Peter out and asked him a question. “Simon, do you truly love me more than these?” What is Jesus referring to? He could have been talking about Peter’s fishing boats, his job as a fisherman, or he could have been referring to the others in the group. Jesus is trying to find out what the depth of His love for was for Him. Was it just a shallow, superficial love or was it rock solid like his name. Peter is also known as Cephas, the Rock (John 1:42).
Peter answers, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you” Jesus presses Peter with another question, then another…
After each of Peter’s responses, Jesus gave him an assignment. After the first he said.
verse 15, Feed my lambs –the young Christian believers
verse 16, Take care of my sheep–be a shepherd to my sheep. Look after them. Keep them safe from harm.
verse 17, Feed my sheep. Take the sheep to pasture where they are fed.
Jesus is looking for a total renewal of his loyalty and a reaffirmation of his responsibilities.
Follow me and keep on following me. Jesus knew that he needed to get two things from Peter. First, he needed to get Peter to move away from his guilt over the past issues. Secondly, Jesus needed to Peter to not only follow Him, but to continue to follow Him. If Peter could get back on track, he would become a productive person again. Peter would find his own healing as he reached out to others. Jesus is telling him “I’ve got work for you to do. If you really love me you are going to feed my lambs. You’re going to help these new Christians. You are going to get the focus off of yourself. You are going to be involved in helping other people.” Peter says, “OK, I’ll do that.”
Jesus asks the second time, “Peter do you truly love me?” Peter says, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” “Then if you do,” ‘Take care of my sheep,’ replied Jesus.
The third time Jesus asks him, “Simon do you love me?” Peter was getting a little agitated by being asked the same question. He says, “Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.” Then Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
What was the purpose of these questions? Jesus wanted Peter to really examine his feelings. He wanted him to come to terms with the past and now it was time to experience total forgiveness. Jesus wanted Peter to get on with his life and the responsibilities Jesus had called him to. He couldn’t be an effective shepherd to the young Christians or to the established Christians as long as he remained frozen in a state of not forgiving himself for denying Jesus.
Jesus is making a comparison or analogy between Peter’s denial with three questions of restoration. Do you love me–then do this assignment. Do you love me–then feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep. The breakfast had fulfilled its intended purpose for Peter. He has been restored and re-commissioned. He has been put back on the road to fulfill his calling.
[ conclusion tomorrow…]
(originally posted 5/20/11)