“The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.'” John 21:17
Peter wasn’t enjoying this conversation. I get it. I don’t like it when someone asks me the same question three times in a row, either.
What did Peter expect Jesus to say?
“You really let Me down.”
“I told you this would happen.”
“I had high hopes for you, Simon son of John.”
“This colossal failure disqualifies you from future service.”
To which Peter was ready to reply:
“You were right.”
“I’m not your man.”
“Back to the boats for me.”
But nothing of the sort happened. There was no need to rehash the past. Peter had publicly denied Jesus three times, so Jesus gave Peter the chance to publicly declare his love three times. It was Peter’s path to healing from shame and bitter regret.
Jesus reinstated Peter’s position of leadership
in front of the other disciples.
Jesus restored Peter’s soul and then challenged him
to set his eyes on the work ahead.
Peter wasn’t being sent back to the boats to rebuild his fishing business.
He was being sent out into the world to build His Father’s Kingdom.