By Stephen Leonard
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15
A breakfast for the ages! The risen Jesus prepared it; the tired fishermen ate it; and the night of fishing turned out spectacularly, at the last moment. After the meal, Jesus engaged Peter, His thrice denier, with three questions, “Peter, do you (really) love me?”
Of course, Peter boldly said he did. But not many nights hence he had shown exactly the opposite, when under duress he told questioners he never knew Jesus. So Peter’s Lord and Savior graciously asked Peter if he loved Him, three times, all to put to rest in Peter’s heart his terrible guilt of having denied Jesus three times, as well, before the rooster crowed. Jesus said in advance Peter would, but he protested the Lord’s prophecy.
Is Peter alone the denier of his Master? Not at all! We have all denied Him before men. When we use His name in vain, habitually, but vainly, saying, “Oh my God!” Even writing in texts, “OMG.” Or using “Jesus Christ” as a punctuating swear word.
Or living and acting as though His commandments are meaningless, and certainly not necessary to always obey. When we choose to live as though He is not, we actually deny Him. I dare say, if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit pricks your conscience when you do so. You know it as assuredly as you know you are breathing.
No, Peter is not uniquely the denier of His Lord. Perhaps the possible instances above do not match you, but you can surmise your own times of not faithfully walking in the Lord’s footsteps. It is just that Peter‘s denials have been broadcast before the world by Scripture that you might know we all have Peter’s sins in our own lives. His are prominently displayed, but ours are as grievous as his.
Jesus may be asking Peter if he loved Him, but he asks you the same question. If you answer in the affirmative, Jesus’ response to you is the same as Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Care for your neighbor! Be the neighbor you should be by showing him or her mercy. Encourage, heal, assist. Be Jesus’ lips, hands, and feet to others. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, this is your mission!
“Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee, ever, only, all for thee.”
(6th verse of Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life, and Let It Be,” 1874)