Peter, Lovest Thou Me

Two weeks ago, we studied when Peter denied Jesus.   This was an account listed in all of the gospel accounts, except for John.

However, John provides us with another moment between Peter and Jesus that occurred after the resurrection.

John 21:14-22 provides the following account.

“14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

Jesus appeared to the disciples

“Since that fall, Christ had met with Peter among the rest of the disciples, but had not referred to this subject, but now has come the time for a restoration of Peter. Hence, he probes him with the question, “Lovest thou me more than these?” That question would at once recall to Peter his boastful claim, his awful fall, and would pierce him to the heart. He no longer claims that he is the truest of the apostolic band, does not even affirm confidently, but answers, “Thou knowest my heart; thou knowest that I love thee.” Then said the Savior, Feed my lambs.”    {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

the disciples cast their nets

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

“Our Lord addressed Peter by his original name, as if he had forfeited that of Peter through his denying him.”    {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

“A second time the Lord probes Peter with the question. Let it be noted that he does not

Lovest thou me?

call him Peter, “the rock,” any longer. So frail a disciple could only be called Simon. The Christ again commissions him to work, “Feed my sheep.” Not only the lambs, but he may look after the sheep of the fold, watch over the disciples of the Lord, young and old. Three times Peter had denied the Master; three times the Master questions his love; three times he gives him charge concerning his work. The questioning was painful, Peter was grieved, but the grief was wholesome, and Peter’s whole subsequent life bore proof of the discipline. His rashness was forever gone.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

feed my sheep

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

“He now answered, Thou knowest that I love thee; but without professing to love Jesus more than others. We must not be surprised to have our sincerity called into question, when we ourselves have done that which makes it doubtful. Every remembrance of past sins, even pardoned sins, renews the sorrow of a true penitent. Conscious of integrity, Peter solemnly appealed to Christ, as knowing all things, even the secrets of his heart.”    {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and

feed my lambs

walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

“Peter had denied his Master to save his own life. Now that he is reinstated in the old confidence and charged with the Master’s work, he is told that he will be called on to die for it. He will be girded, not with a girdle, but with bonds, and he shall be led where he would not, unto death.”
{Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

If thou lovest me than feed my sheep

“These two verses can only be as declaring that Peter should die the death of a martyr. John wrote after Peter’s death, and may be understood as affirming that he did thus “glorify God.” The universal testimony of the ancient Church is that he did thus die. It is asserted that Peter was crucified, a fact that is probable, as he was not a Roman citizen. Follow me. He had once forsaken Christ through fear of death. Now, with a prospect of violent death before him, he is bidden to resume the Master’s work and to follow him. He did this, from this time, faithfully.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.}

“It is well when our falls and mistakes make us more humble and watchful. The sincerity of

Jesus restored Peter three times, once for each denial

our love to God must be brought to the test; and it behoves us to inquire with earnest, preserving prayer to the heart-searching God, to examine and prove us, whether we are able to stand this test. No one can be qualified to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ, who does not love the good Shepherd more than any earthly advantage or object.  {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

Jesus asked Peter “Lovest Thou Me”

“It is the great concern of every good man, whatever death he dies, to glorify God in it; for what is our chief end but this, to die to the Lord, at the word of the Lord?”  {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary.}

Peter proves that we can be redeemed from our sins and failures.  However, we are also supposed to learn from these mistakes and not make them again.   We often seem to have to keep learning the same lessons in life until we pass them.  This can be painful at times.

When Peter vowed to follow where Jesus was going before the crucifixion, he had no idea what he was saying.  Now, standing before the risen Christ, he had a much better idea of what the future held for him.

He was willing to pay the price regardless of the outcome and circumstances.

If you could trade places with Peter and stood before Jesus on that day, what would your answer be?  “Lovest Thou Me”?



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