John 21:15-17 (the message)
After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”
Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?”
so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
These verses press in on my heart this morning. As I sat on my porch reading them a few tears fell. I couldn’t understand why, really. I just knew this exchange between Peter and Jesus was touching my heart for a reason.
Jesus addresses Peter three times, a redemption of his three denials the night of Jesus’s arrest. Today God is impressing on my heart another perspective…
In Acts chapter 1 Peter stands up in a crowd of 120 to discuss replacing Judas among the apostles. He is among his peers, taking on this role that might ruffle a few feathers (if you read John 20 and 21 you will see a clear competitive streak existed between Peter and John!).
As I read about Peter my heart absorbed something new. I turned back a page and read over the verses above once again. I’m struck with something I hope to convey in words this morning…
Perhaps Jesus asked Peter, Do you love me? before giving Him instructions because He wanted Peter to understand why they were being given. Perhaps Jesus wanted Peter to know before He ever preached to a crowd, healed a sick person in His name or made any practical ministry decisions the motive must be and remain love.
My heart is touched this morning for someone reading this post who has been given an assignment. You know Jesus has spoken to you, is leading and tugging at you, but you have so many fears and inadequacies that you won’t budge.
But Jesus isn’t asking you because of your qualifications. He isn’t asking you to follow into something new because you are well-prepared or have distinguished yourself. And later on, after you’ve walked a few paces, Jesus wants you to remember why you do what you do.
Because you love Him.
I see it this way. This crowd of 120, apostles and Jesus-followers, just witnessed Him ascending to Heaven in a cloud. They all head back to this “upper room” and wait together for what’s next (the Holy Spirit!). In the meantime I think God put this need to replace Judas on Peter’s heart. Right off Peter is faced with a choice, please God or fear man. Certainly a few of those so familiar with him…who witnessed him slice off the soldier’s ear or sink into the waters he walked on or heard him deny he even knew Jesus…would roll their eyes and think, Well you have got to be kidding me! Who does Peter think he is?!
I believe the tender words of Jesus echoed in Peter’s heart.
Peter, son of John, do you love me?
Yes, Master, you know I love you.
Feed my sheep.
Read it again. This time, read your name in place of Peter’s and replace “feed my sheep” with the Word He’s speaking to you.
Vanessa Anne, do you love me?
Yes, Jesus, I love you.
Encourage the women I place in your path.
I can only sit here in my kitchen, absorbing. I have wrestled long and hard over the past three years with this blog. I’ve asked to quit many times! In my personal life I’ve responded to emails and text messages, sent hand-written cards and followed the flow of my heart only to have nail-biter afternoons when I wonder if I was “off.” If they would think, Well you have got to be kidding me! Who does she think she is?!
I won’t say that has never happened, because sometimes without a tight check on myself I use too many words. Smile. And yet…
Precious and faith-building are the moments we see God at work in our assignment.
Without really understanding or planning it, I am learning to embrace and follow the Word He speaks over my heart. Walk (or write) into unknown territory. Not because I’m ready or qualified or won’t ever get it wrong. I’m not, I’m not and sometimes I do.
Because I’m discovering I love Him more than I fear failure.
You do, too. And that, my friend, is the only reason He needs.