‘He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”’ (John 21:17 NKJV).


The night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied Him three times before the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had warned. Surely Peter, the “Rock,” was still struggling with his personal failure when the Lord appeared to His disciples for the third time after His resurrection. Indeed, Peter had become so rudderless that he had returned to his nets. The other disciples followed him and they spent the whole night fishing, yet caught nothing.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? For that morning, the Lord called out from the shore asking whether they had caught anything. When they answered “No,” He told them to cast on the right side of the boat. When they did, they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Immediately, John recognized that it was Jesus calling to them from the shore saying, “It is the Lord!” At this, Peter jumped in the water and swam ashore.
Why would Jesus essentially repeat the scene of Peter’s original calling? For Luke 5 recorded that Peter first answered Christ’s call after a similar fishing miracle.
He did it for Peter. Peter’s failure had him looking to the past, thinking to return to those things that he once knew. Yet, Jesus renewed Peter’s call to Himself. O what love! Peter had denied Jesus, but the One who is love itself, would not deny him!
So as they sat on the shore together, enjoying a breakfast provided by Jesus, the Lord asked Peter the same question three times. “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Why such a question? Does the Lord of all creation care whether we love Him? Apparently, He does.
But why ask Peter the same question three times? Because Peter had denied Him three times. Jesus gave Peter the opportunity, painful though it was, to declare his love three times. With each declaration, Jesus reminded Peter of his calling, “Feed My sheep.” With each declaration, Simon was restored to being Peter, “the Rock,” again.
When we make a commitment to Jesus, as Peter learned, he helps us to keep it. Jesus loved us first and it is His love that enables us to commit to love him back.
Coincidently, this OYB reading falls on June 2nd, my wedding anniversary. On this day 41 years ago, Robin and I committed to love one another until death do us part. The Lord has blessed us by helping us keep that commitment to Him and to one another, and to grow even more in love as the years have passed.
Jesus still asks His followers, “Do you love me?” It’s a question of relationship, not religion. It’s an invitation to commit your life to the One who is Love itself. And His love will not be denied.
PRAYER: Dear Father, we need Your love so desperately in our land today. Pour out Your love on us, O Lord. Make us vessels of reconciliation and forgiveness. Even when someone denies us, help us to go to them to be restored in fellowship again. For You are Love. And we are Yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.