1996-04-11 - Breakfast with Peter
John 21:15-17 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than any of these?" He said to Him, "Yes Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 16 He said unto him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than any of these?" He said to Him, " Yes Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd my sheep." 17 He said unto 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 all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
This seemed a timely passage since it is just after Resurrection Day. And how I know I, and many of my friends, identify with Peter. -- one minute declaring the great profession of faith at Caesarea and the next blowing it so big that Jesus must send me a rebuke.
Jesus restores Peter personally here as He asks Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" This offsets Peters denials. Mary was instructed "Go tell Peter and the other disciples." Be sure Peter gets the message Mary. He is still My brother . The love that is demonstrated in these two points, via Mary and personally -- where the Lord restores Peter after he swore with a curse that he did not know Jesus -- blows me away. Can I show that kind of love and forgiveness?
The world 'love' used by Jesus in the first two verses is 'agape'. This is the unconditional love that God has for each of us. The love that compelled Him to go to the cross to restore the path to God, expecting nothing in return. This is no longer the bragging Peter, but the broken Peter, who response with the word 'phileo'. "I love you like a brother, not perfectly." is what Peter is saying. No boasting, recognizing his human frailty and ability to do as Paul says "that which I do not want to do...". Knowing that we are just clay vessels, and totally dependent on Christ for everything, is so important. And yet, we try to take care of things ourselves.
This crushed and broken Peter, gently restored to fellowship by Jesus, is now far more useful to the Master. Jesus meets Peter at his level the third time with 'phileo'. Peter responds in grief that he is unable to measure up to the 'agape' standard. Jesus says, "It is enough for now Peter. Tend my sheep."
Peter goes on to lead the church in Rome. Peter has been prepared for the great task. After Nero blames the Christians for the massive fire in Rome that he himself ordered set as a prelude to his urban renewal plan, the Christians are rounded up ruthlessly. In the end, Peter watched his beloved wife be executed by a spearman. Just before Peter was to be nailed to a cross, Nero asked Peter if he had any last requests. Nero must have been hoping to show the people there that he had crushed Peter's spirit. Peter is said to have responded that he is not worthy to be crucified, as was His Lord. He instead asks to be crucified upside down. This is no simple act of obedience; it surely compounded his suffering. But it must also have made a staggering impression on the people at the Coliseum who had come to see this man go down to defeat. Instead, he won. He left a lasting impression on each, that Jesus meant that much to him. And, as he passed from this life, he walked into the arms of his waiting Lord.
Lord Jesus - Keep us mindful of our complete dependence on Your provision. Help us to stay mindful of our ability to so easily sin. And when we do, help us to know that You already knew it was going to happen. You love us, even knowing our flaws, and are always ready to restore us to fellowship. Thank You for that wonderful grace and mercy. Amen.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.