“Do you love Me?”
How that question must’ve cut Peter to the bone. I wonder if his mind went back to the words spoken just before the events began to unfold: “you will deny me three times…” (Mark 14:30).
I wonder if Peter relived that moment at the predicted third betrayal when Jesus looked at him (Luke 22:61). The words must’ve cut like a knife. Why would He even give Peter the chance to respond? Didn’t his actions say he didn’t? He had failed Jesus miserably. How could he answer? I imagine just attempting to answer was excruciating.
Wasn’t it enough that Peter had failed his Lord at the most critical time? I mean by actions, by what Peter had done and said (denied Christ) you would think his fate was sealed. Game over – all that teaching, healing, following; all those miracles he was witness to – that life – was finished because he had let Jesus down. He committed the unpardonable sin – he denied Christ…and he did it believing he wouldn’t!
Yet after Peter had gone back to his familiar life “BC” Jesus waited for him and the other disciples on the shoreline. He knew His Peter; Jesus knew where to find him. He asked him three times if he loved Him – I believe – to allow Peter to get what was between them (in Peter’s mind and heart) taken care of so he could know he was forgiven.
I love this story. It’s a beautiful example of the forgiveness and personal affection Jesus had for Peter…and has for us. How many times have we failed? We may not have denied Christ as obviously as Peter did – we may not have shouted the words “I don’t know Him” – but at some time or another we’ve all fallen short of loving Him. We’ve treated people badly, we’ve willingly done something we know is wrong; we’ve essentially said, “Lord I know this doesn’t please You. You say this is wrong but right now I love me more than You and I want this more (than I want to please you) so I’m doing it” which is the same thing.
Then after the choice is made and regret and/or remorse sets in you’re feeling the sting of knowing you messed up. But look. There He is, waiting for you to come to Him and settle it. Do you love Him? Say it. Are you sorry? Say it. Let His words cut you deep so that you have to go to Him and settle it. He’s waiting.