Peter’s emotions must have been a flooded mixture on during his first conversation with Jesus after his resurrection. So many things must have been running through his mind. I think perhaps one of the most prominent thoughts though was relief. Peter had ended things on an awful note with Jesus before his crucifixion. The man denied him three times after saying he would never do such a thing. Peter was overcome with guilt and shame. The death of Jesus for him marked the closing door of opportunity to ever apologize for his actions. It meant being unable to find some way to right a wrong. It would be similar to a child’s last words to a parent being, “I hate you” right before the parent dies in a car crash. Peter screwed up, and the one thing that could remove this guilt was something he believed would never be able to happen. He would never be able to hear the forgiveness of his friend.
Jesus rose from the dead though. We know the story. We even know the story of Jesus interaction with Peter. Three times Peter is asked if he loves Jesus. Three times equal with the three events of denying he knew his Lord. Peter got his chance to acknowledge his sin. He was given the opportunity to express his new found devotion to Jesus.
Those are all great things to be encouraged about and learn form in this passage. Meditating on this verse though has drawn my attention to a different element of this passage. It is a part so simple. It is one that sticks out to us three times upon reading it, but there are so many other things to focus on that we let this slip through the cracks. Jesus wants Peter to prove his love.
I don’t know why we talk about this too much. Maybe it is because we fear falling into a heresy of a works based salvation. Then again, maybe it is because we fear how we will not measure up. The implication in this passage is clear though. Jesus is telling Peter to perform a specific action if he really loves Him.
I love my wife. I tell her this often. Sometimes she may think I eve say it too often, but telling her I love her is never enough. There reaches a point that I need to show her that I love her. I need to do something to show my level of devotion. When we were dating I did not simply tell her I loved her. I showed her how much I loved her by giving her a ring. I show my love for her by doing things for her. My words would ring hollow after a while if I showed no actually signs of affection and devotion to our relationship.
Jesus is telling Peter to take care of others if he really loves him. As the ultimate shepherd Jesus is putting Peter to the task of tending to his flock. He is telling Peter to feed them on His word. Teach them what it means to follow me. Love them. Care for them. Help them when they are in need. Take action Peter.
The funny thing is this is not a call just to Peter. This is a call to God’s church. Take action church. Show your love to God. The Christian life doesn’t allow sitting down. It doesn’t mean you get to stand still. Yes, God has forgiven you of your sins. Praise Jesus for his saving grace. Praise the Lord God for his mercy and forgiveness. There is more to Christianity than being forgiven of our sins though! Yeah Peter, Jesus forgave you for denying him three times. He gave you three new opportunities to proclaim your love and devotion to him, but with each response of love and devotion you have been commanded to back it up with action.
Are we really grateful for God’s forgiveness? Do we really love Him for showing us mercy and grace? Then rise up church. Let us performs acts of love to our king and savior.