Jesus always offers exactly what we need in our current situation. He had a special job for Peter to do and Peter wasn’t doing it. It is time for Peter to get un-stuck.
Text: John 21:1-19
There is more to this early morning meeting than just breakfast. After breakfast, Jesus singled Peter out and asked him a question. “Simon, do you truly love me more than these?”
What is Jesus talking about? 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. He says:
Feed my lambs --the young Christian believers (verse 15)
Take care of my sheep--be a shepherd to my sheep. Look after them. Keep them safe from harm. (verse 16)
Feed my sheep. Take the sheep to pasture where they are fed. (verse 17)
What Jesus is looking is a total renewal of his loyalty and a reaffirmation of his responsibilities.
In short, 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 get 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." And, 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 to now be able to experience total forgiveness. Jesus wanted Peter to get on with his life and the responsibilities Jesus had called him to.
Peter 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.