Table of Contents
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.John 21:17 ESV
The first time Jesus met Peter, he was fishing in the Sea of Galilee, later named the Sea of Tiberias. In Luke’s account in chapter 5 of his letter, he writes that the fishermen were on the shore washing their nets when Jesus walked by.
He borrowed Peter’s boat and taught from it. When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to go back out onto the sea and cast again. Peter told Him they had been fishing all night and caught nothing, but he did as Jesus said.
When Jesus made the appearance to Peter and several other disciples after His resurrection, the circumstances were similar.
At both meetings with Jesus, Peter and the fishermen with him caught more fish than they could physically handle in their boats. However, between the first and second meetings, an event occurred that literally rocked the world: Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Besides this cataclysmic event, Peter’s relationship with Jesus had undergone its own type of death and resurrection. At the second meeting, Peter faces Jesus and the disciples beside the same sea where it all began.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two encounters was Peter’s confession of love. The first time Peter met Jesus, he confessed his sinfulness before him. He likely confessed the sin of his denial to Jesus the first time he saw Jesus after his resurrection (Luke 24:34). However, the time they had spent ministering together deepened their relationship.
Peter learned to know Jesus personally. Even though he betrayed that love with his denial, Peter now reinstated that love. Just as he denied the Lord three times, Peter now confessed his love for Jesus three times.
Both times Peter encountered Jesus beside the Sea of Galilee, he confessed Jesus as Lord. It is one thing to say, “I am a sinner.” It is a step further to profess love for Jesus. When Peter called Him Lord, he was giving Jesus control over his life. The Teacher who had spoken from his boat became the Master of his life.
When Jesus asked Peter to follow Him, he was ready. He left his nets behind and followed. Faced with the new uncertainty of his future, Peter once again followed Jesus.
Peter’s sin had caused him to weep bitterly with remorse. He felt the shame of having denied his Master when He needed him the most. However, we do not see Jesus chastising Peter. We see Jesus gently prodding him to confess his love as many times as Peter had claimed he did not know Him.
Peter knew that Jesus could see his heart. In one sense, the conversation was unnecessary. However, this time, Peter’s confession was a humble admission to himself and the other disciples. He had boasted that if everyone else forsook Jesus, He would not. Yet, Peter had gone further than just forsaking Jesus.
Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus.
Jesus knew that his public confession was necessary because His work with the disciples was just beginning. They would soon be the apostles that began the Church. Jesus’ initial call was to “catch men” as they had fish. Now, Peter would be feeding and shepherding Jesus’ flock of sheep. Just as Jesus predicted, Peter was later martyred for his faith in Jesus.
When that time came again, he was ready. He followed Jesus to the very end (2 Peter 1:14-17).
To receive the redemption Jesus offered Peter, we must offer Him the love and faith that Peter did. Jesus has a calling for each of us. He has great things He wants us to do as His Church.
Will we follow?