“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. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19, The Message
Jesus showed up by the lake to make another appearance to His disciples after rising from death. The disciples who knew how to fish where doing what they knew best—fishing. Jesus appeared on the beach while they were out and had started a fire to cook some fish and bread for them. Jesus served them breakfast after an early morning of fishing! Jesus always knows what we need and when we need it!
From the boat, Peter is the one who recognizes him first and dives into the water to swim to His beloved Master. After breakfast, Jesus takes Peter aside to “ordain” him into what Peter was created, molded, taught and shaped to be—a Shepherd of sheep—the “rock” upon whom Jesus would build the church. But it begins with questioning Peter’s love. “Do you love me”, asks Jesus. He asks this question as many times as Peter once denied him. Coincidence?
He is being taught through the questioning so he knows the depth of his love for his Master, the One who has been his shepherd him for three years. At the end of the “deep dive” by Jesus Himself with soul searching questioning, Jesus ended this time with simply “Follow Me.” Jesus knows Peter’s heart. But does Peter know his own heart? Can Peter simply follow Jesus with all that is in him with his love for Jesus driving his behavior?
What a precious moment in time this must have been for Peter! Although the questions perturbed Peter at first until he “caught on” to what Jesus was “fishing” for in the conversation, we know Peter caught the meaning because of his behavior displayed in his later leadership. As Peter writes this letter to other Shepherds, we are sure he never forgot this private moment with His Master Shepherd who said, “Follow Me”.
Peter now teaches us how to follow Jesus with all that is in us with the love of Jesus guiding us.
1 Peter 5, The Message (Emphasis mine)
He’ll Promote You at the Right Time
1-3 I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
4-5 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—
God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people.
6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
He Gets the Last Word
8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
12 I’m sending this brief letter to you by Silas, a most dependable brother. I have the highest regard for him.
I’ve written as urgently and accurately as I know how. This is God’s generous truth; embrace it with both arms!
13-14 The church in exile here with me—but not for a moment forgotten by God—wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello. Give holy hugs all around! Peace to you—to all who walk in Christ’s ways.
Jesus said, “Follow Me.” Jesus taught Peter well. The proof is in this letter.
Thank you for allowing us to see Peter’s story unfold as he grew in your love, mercy, and grace. He messed up; you forgave. You taught him how to shepherd by your example. You taught him how to love like you. Now he shows others how to keep it simple by simply following you. You are our Master Shepherd who teaches us by gently leading us down the path that leads to Life everlasting. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will follow you.
In Jesus Name, Amen