After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to His Disciples several times. On the third time that Jesus appeared to His Disciples, He was with them on the shore by the Sea of Galilee. He turned to Peter and said, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love You.”
Then, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My lambs.”
Jesus asked Peter again, “Do you love Me?”
Again, Peter answered, “Yes Lord, I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of My sheep.”
A third time Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?”
Now Peter was very sad that Jesus asked him this question again, but he answered Jesus, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21: 15- 17)
Then in verse 19, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow Me.”
You may wonder why did Jesus ask Peter the same question three times. Well, if you can remember when Jesus was first arrested before He was crucified, Peter was asked three times if he was a Disciple of Jesus. Peter denied even knowing Jesus all three times then. Now, Peter felt so bad about doing this, regretted it, and was ashamed of his actions.
That morning, the Disciples had been fishing when Jesus appeared to them on the shore of Galilee. They were not sure what they were going to be doing since Jesus was not with them anymore like He had been. Would they need to go back to their old jobs of fishing? Peter especially, I think, wondered if he had not been abandoned by Jesus since he had denied even knowing Him that eventful night. Jesus wanted to show Peter and the others that He had forgiven Peter, loved him, and still wanted Peter to be His Disciple. So Jesus asked him the same question three times, just like Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times. In front of the other Disciples, Jesus wanted Peter and them to know that Peter was forgiven and still included in the group to love and serve Him.
Have you ever done something bad and then were ashamed of doing it? I think, we all have at some time or another, but you know what? As long as we acknowledge our mistake and ask Jesus to forgive us, we are OK! He still loves us and wants us to be His Disciple too! The Bible says there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8: 38-39) What a wonderful thing to remember. No matter what mischief we get ourselves into, God can and will forgive us if we ask. Does that mean we get into trouble knowingly and then ask for forgiveness? No, not at all. We always try our best to do what is loving and right, but when we do mess up (and we will), we have someone to take away our shame and sadness. We don’t have to worry about our mistake anymore.
Let’s say our prayer for the week. Heavenly Father, help us to always show our love for You by loving and caring for one another. But when we do make a mistake and sin, help us to remember to admit it and ask for Your forgiveness. In the name of Jesus we pray; Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.