In this post-resurrection appearance to his disciples, Jesus turns to Peter and asks him three times, ‘Do you love me?’ We all know why Jesus asked Peter this question. At the time of Jesus’ trial before his crucifixion, Peter had denied Jesus three times. Peter was afraid of what might happen to him if he confessed to being one of Jesus’ disciples.
But notice what Jesus asks. He doesn’t mention Peter's fear and denial; he doesn’t remind Peter he had predicted this would happen. Rather, he asks, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Jesus didn't say it, but Peter must have been left thinking, ‘If I love Jesus, how could I deny him three times?’
Jesus is in the business of restoration. He knew that Peter loved him. He knew that Peter would end up being one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He knew – as we do from church history – that Peter himself would be crucified, following his Lord even in death. He knew that Peter loved him. It’s as though Jesus is reminding Peter of the true test of love. As Jesus had taught his disciples earlier ‘Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge also before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.’ (Matt 10:32).
It’s still the same today. If I love Jesus then I will confess Him and not deny Him. I will not be ashamed to confess Him before others. The bottom line is this – that the Lord Jesus wants our love. He wants our love, no matter what. He wanted Peter's love despite his denials. He wants our love too, no matter whether we have denied him or professed him, no matter how we may have fallen into sin or tried to do the right thing, no matter how strong or weak our faith may be.
When we can truly answer ‘Yes Lord, I love You’, then Jesus says to us, as he said to Peter, ‘Follow me!’ Let’s re-affirm our love for our risen Lord by following him more closely, whatever challenges may come in the future.