“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” ”
There’s no way to fully take in and to express the emotion of this moment.
If I try, I can imagine feeling the pounding of Peter’s heart. I can imagine feeling his grief. I can imagine the incredulous shock and confusion as he tried to comprehend what Jesus was asking….
what Jesus is doing.
That part which reads…”Peter was hurt….” also reads that he was “grieved”.
I think he might have wanted to cry… to break down and sob.
Here was his Master, his brother, his friend….forgiving him and giving him a job to do. Here was Jesus, the “Chief Cornerstone” laying His Gospel ministry upon Peter; the Rock. And the church– the Body– the Bride, would be built and adorned from this point on.
I know Peter could barely take it all in. So, in verse 20, he looks behind them and points to another disciple. True to his character, Peter blurts out something like, “What about HIM? Wouldn’t you rather have Him? He’s better than me.”
Because in Peter’s mind, he knows how he’s failed Jesus before.
He knows how badly it hurts.
Maybe he’s worried of failing again.
I would be.
Except Jesus knows now the lessons Peter’s heart has taken in, and how pride has been BURNED out and how humility has taken it’s place. Jesus knows Peter is ready. He is.
Three times the rooster has crowed.
Three times the question and answer of love and sacrificial service have been offered.
Leading to one command:
“…Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
That was enough. Peter’s ministry would begin from that day by simply following the path laid out before Him. He’d share from his own hard lessons in humility and opening the door to his own fears, failures and frailty, trust that others would come to know the one true Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. That was enough.
Later Peter would write:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1Peter 4:8)
He ought to know.
This is the kind of love that makes disciples, builds kingdom body and church and serves a risen Savior.
This is ministry.