Read: John 20:19-21:25
Focus: John 21:15-17:
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.”
Simon Peter… Who can’t see at least a little of himself or herself in Peter, especially the Peter before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in Acts 2? Peter was impetuous – he was ready, fire, aim sometimes. In Matthew 14, he jumped into the lake after Jesus with little thought for himself. He was passionate; in all four Gospels, at the last supper, Peter promised that he would stay by Jesus’ side, even if it meant his own death. Peter often spoke before he understood the meaning of Jesus’ actions, such as at the transfiguration and visit with Moses and Elijah, when Peter tried to rebuke Jesus after Jesus prophesized His own death when they were at Caesarea Philippi, or after Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the last supper.
I see some of Peter in myself. He’s lovable, he cares, but he makes mistakes. And then we get to see what happened after the last supper. When Jesus implored Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane to just stay awake and pray for Him because Jesus knew what He was about to face. Or when Peter fled at the first sign of trouble when the temple guards came to arrest Jesus. Or perhaps, most troubling, when Peter denied Jesus and cursed Him three times, even to a young servant girl who was barely a teenager, because he was afraid of what would happen to him. In that moment, Peter saw a side of himself that we always try to hide even from ourselves – Peter saw his own cowardice, and it was so ugly and shameful to him that “he wept bitterly.”
That brings us to today’s reading and the focus verse. A few Easters ago, the church showed a Skit Guys video that was modeled around today’s focus verse. During the confrontation, Jesus didn’t scold Peter or point out his flaws (Jesus knew those before He chose Peter); instead, He offered Peter grace. He reminded Peter that if he loves Jesus, then He needs to accept the forgiveness offered to him, get past his guilt, and move on to the mission Jesus has for each of His disciples – caring for others and sharing the Gospel – taking care of and feeding His sheep. It was through this grace, freely offered by Jesus to someone who didn’t deserve it, as well as the Holy Spirit later being poured into Peter that allowed Peter to push through his own cowardice and become the model of bravery that we see in Acts.
Below is the video. Take a couple of minutes to watch this. If for some reason your browser blocks embedded videos, the direct link to watch it on YouTube is here: https://youtu.be/EhoFEuw2GPA
So why do I bring this up in a devotional? Because when I watched that video a few Easters ago, like Peter, I wept bitterly; I still tear up watching it. When I watch this video, I can see my own cowardice. I am reminded that when I allow myself to be weighed down by my baggage of past sins for which I’ve been forgiven, I’m not as effective a servant of Christ’s as I should be. I’m reminded of the times that I could and should have shared the Gospel with someone who was hurting but didn’t because of fear. And more than any of that, I am reminded of Jesus looking me in the eye, asking me a simple question that forces me to stop, and offering me His grace that I don’t deserve so I can move forward in service to Him. He asks, “Do you love Me?” And when I answer, “Yes, Lord.” He tells me to share His love and message of Good News, hope, and grace with the world. Because as they said in the video – it’s not about me – it never was; it’s all about Jesus and His grace.
Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that it’s not about me; it’s about You and Your grace. Thank You that you forgive me; thank You that You freely pour Your grace over me. Lord, I accept Your free gift of grace, and I offer myself to You fully. I will focus on You and sharing Your message to others instead of my own baggage because You have freed me from my sins of the past. Please continue filling me with Your Holy Spirit so I have the courage necessary to push past myself in service to You. In Your holy name… Amen.