After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
John 21:15-17, NLT
Just a few days earlier, Peter denied he even knew Jesus. He completely pretended as though he didn’t even know his best friend and Savior. He had messed up before then, too, but this was big. He was standing within Jesus’ line of sight when he vehemently denied knowing this man from Nazareth.
I can’t imagine the pain that seared through Peter when his eyes met Jesus’ eyes. I’m sure it felt final to him. And then, when Jesus died and was buried, Peter probably felt like he would never recover from this singular failure.
Those agonizing days before Jesus was resurrected must have been the darkest Peter had ever known.
And then, at dawn, an empty tomb and breakfast on the beach.
“Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?”
Three chances at faithfulness for three failures.
And that’s what Peter needed: three times to tell Jesus he loved Him.
Yes, Jesus was commissioning Peter for his role as leader of His Church. Yes, Jesus was preparing him for a single-minded mission. But more than these, Jesus knew Peter needed this chance to say to His face,
“Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus never meets our failures with, “Pull up those bootstraps and try harder next time!” He’s not a sergeant in the military barking orders. He’s making us breakfast on the beach and asking if we love him.
Love covers a multitude of sins…and failures.
We could turn toward escapism, overworking, shopping, and harsh self-talk.
Or we could get quiet, pretend we’re on a beach with Jesus, and tell Him we love Him.
For He knows all things.
He knows how badly we want to fix what we did wrong, turn back time, and over-prepare for the future. He also knows none of that will move us forward into tomorrow and our purpose.
So, let’s pretend. You are on the beach, Jesus is making you breakfast, and He asks you, “Do you love me?”
And you can simply reply, “Yes, yes, I do.”
What failure are you having a hard time moving past?
My Savior, you know all things. I am weak and in need of Your love and compassion. Help me move past my failures.
Do you know a woman sitting in a place of failure? How can you come alongside her with care and compassion, sharing how Jesus meets people right where they’re at?