Monday rolls around. The sun comes up. Normal noises outside – the bustle of a city, the laughter of children – the smells of breakfast emanating from the other room. But this is no ordinary Monday. Just hours before a formerly dead man showed up like a ghost. He held his followers. He showed them his scars and told them to hold on to hope – that this was just the beginning.
The Gospel of John is my favorite book in the Bible. In the last chapter John tells a story of Jesus restoring Peter to the group. It’s a beautiful and heart wrenching story of Jesus demonstrating to Peter that he is forgiven and Jesus still loves him. You see Peter is like all of us – so determined to do right by God, yet so easily prone to falling flat on his face.
Here’s a timeline of that fateful Passover, from the perspective of Peter:
The Disciples and Jesus have Passover dinner in Jerusalem.
Peter balks at Jesus offering to wash his dirty feet.
Jesus says “Shut up, Peter. You need this.”
Peter boasts that he would never abandon Jesus.
Jesus says “About that…”
Peter falls asleep while Jesus prays in the garden.
Jesus tells Peter to wake up and keep watch.
Peter slashes the ear off of a man as they crowd comes for Jesus.
Jesus heals his enemy and tells Peter to put away his sword.
A few hours later the rooster crowed in the distance as Peter denied knowing Jesus a third time.
Jesus makes knowing eye contact.
Peter watches from a distance as Jesus was crucified.
Peter sprints to the empty tomb after hearing from Mary that Jesus is not in his grave.
Peter stands petrified in the presence of a risen Jesus in the locked upper room.
That’s a lot of failure crammed into a relatively short (and important) period of time.
Probably a couple of weeks later, Peter and some of the disciples are out fishing and Jesus appears to them a third time since his Resurrection. Jesus cooks breakfast for them and then has a talk with one of His closest friends and followers – a man who has repeatedly failed. A man who is ashamed and broken.
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
The past is forgiven – we are made new – Jesus is ALIVE and we have a job to do. Are you ready? Because what comes next – a life of living sacrifice is HARD. Jesus is talking to us, too, when He says “Feed my sheep.”