After the crucifixion of Jesus the bible tells us that many of the disciples seemed to have lost hope and returned to the lives they had left behind. It’s arguable that Peter had felt the worst after His death, I mean after all Peter had denied his walk with Jesus not once but three times! Even after being told of this betrayal hours before, in Peter’s guilt ridden mind there was no other option but go back! Back to the life he had left, back to fishing. Mark’s gospel tells us Jesus sent word to His disciples of His resurrection verse 7 says,
“But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
In this passage something stands out! “Go, tell his disciples and Peter,” Why Peter, out of all the others who walked with Jesus, why single Peter out? I believe it was because Jesus knew that Peter felt unworthy, I believe He knew that Peter felt immense regret for the moments following his denial. I also believe He knew that Peter desperately needed to know the Messiah still loved him and still considered him His!
That is why I believe this remarkable encounter took place, John 21:15-17
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”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.”
Notice how Jesus begins, “Simon son of John”, as if saying, I know who you truly are! I knew you when you were just Simon the son of John and I know that you feel a lot like the person WE left behind. See, Jesus came along and changed not only Peter’s name but the person that name was attached to. When Peter denied Jesus, Peter wondered if he had ever truly been changed in the first place, it’s obvious Jesus knew what Peter was feeling!
All three times Jesus begins by acknowledging the person Peter feels like and all three times He asks the same question, essentially saying Peter I know you feel unworthy, you feel like Simon, but “do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?” It’s interesting that Jesus chose to ask this question THREE times, allowing Peter to see that every time he denied Him was made new. Not because Jesus NEEDED to be apologized to but because He knew that Peter needed to see that Jesus still loved him despite his denial.
All too often we tend to be just like Peter, we walk this amazing walk with Jesus and like the transformation from Simon to Peter we begin to change the way we think and act, we begin to see ourselves becoming more like Christ and then… BOOM! Something happens and we begin to question if the walk we were walking was actually what we thought it was, it becomes unclear to us if the changes we thought were happening were legit or if God was truly changing us at all! So instead of dealing with guilt for the mistakes we made we turn back to the old life we left, becoming the person we were before Jesus changed our names.
Jesus began a good work in Peter the same as He has begun a good work in us! Unfortunately, there are going to be days that what comes out of us is going to make us question what’s inside of us and that’s understandable! So we need to cut ourselves some slack and remember who Jesus is! Just like He asked Peter once for every mistake he made, He WILL give us forgiveness and redemption for every mistake we make and yes, even the ones we consider the worst! I am confident that He has began a good work in us and He WILL finish it just like He did for Peter!
“being confident of this, he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
**Written by Jessica Evans**
Youth Director at Grace Community Church
As a student in high school, Jessica attended Grace with a friend and was a member of the youth group. After graduation and getting married in 2010 her and her husband, Jeff, felt lead back to Grace for Easter in 2013. Shortly after, they were both called to ministry in the youth department as well as being offered full-time positions as staff members.