Have you ever felt like you may have let Jesus down in your life? I know for sure that I have more times than I can count. From little things like telling someone a “little white lie” because I did not have time to go into a long story that would have involved the truth – to much larger things like hurting someone else with my actions or words.
Letting Jesus down is simply a part of every Christians life. The issue lies in how do you deal with it afterwards? The Apostle Peter gives us a perfect model for how we are to handle those times when we find ourselves letting Jesus down. Peter pulls out a huge let-down for Jesus not once, not twice, but three times all in the same night.
As Jesus was being carted off to a fake jury so that the Pharisees could arrest him and cart him off to Pilot for sentencing for crimes He never committed, all of His disciples ran for their lives as they feared they would meet the same fate as Jesus if they hung around.
Peter on the other hand hung around to see if he could find out what was happening to Jesus. This is all detailed in Matthew for you and I encourage you to read it again, but this time read it from Peter’s perspective – really put yourself in Peters situation.
Peter gathered around a fire in order to get warm and as he did people began to recognize him as someone who hung out with Jesus all the time and soon a women called him out as being a disciple of Jesus. Remember that Jesus had already told Peter that very night that he could deny Jesus three times before the morning. You would think that would have been in the front of Peter’s mind that night, but as we see, Peter quickly forgot Jesus’ words to him. Peter not only denied hanging around with Jesus, Peter denied that he even KNEW who Jesus was!!!!! Peter quickly went on to the next fire and yet again he was accused of being a disciple of Jesus and yet again Peter denied knowing Jesus and he quickly ran away. The third time Peter gathered around a fire an entire group of people cornered him and again accused him of being a follower of Jesus. If you break down the Hebrew words originally written, it tells that Peter first began to cuss profusely and loudly at the people and then he, for the third time, denied knowing Jesus.
Of course it was exactly at that time that Jesus was brought outside and he looked Peter right in the eye and it was then that Peter remembered what Jesus had prophesied to him about his denying Jesus three times that night. Peter then dropped to his knees and wailed and wept profusely for a very long time. How do you come back from denying God three times in the same night, and in fact, doing it right in front of Him?
Well our friend Peter then decides that with Jesus dead and gone, there was no sense in continuing to spread the word about Jesus, so he went back to his old job of fishing. This too would have been a disappointment to Jesus as all His disciples had followed Him for three years and he spent as much time teaching them as He could, yet they all stopped spreading the word the minute Jesus was dead, even though Jesus had told them He would return to them.
Now we pick up with Peter back at his job of fishing one evening when someone called to him from the shore. This person had cooked up a nice meal of fish and yelled at Peter to see how the fishing had went. Peter knew Jesus on such a personal level that he could never mistake His voice, so Peter jumped from the boat and swam to Jesus and ran up to Him and gave Him a hug.
Please note what happened next. Jesus yelled and screamed at Peter for being a foolish idiot and denying Him and told Peter to go hang himself for his stupidity, right? Of course not!!!! Jesus had already forgiven Peter for His denial and he eagerly hugged him and offered him to sit down and enjoy a meal with Him!! This is the Jesus that we all know, love, and serve. Jesus simply forgives us because He knows what our human nature leads us to do. Yet Jesus never misses a chance to teach us. So let us now look at His teaching for Peter.
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 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.”
16 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.”
17 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. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
So to begin with, why did Jesus ask Peter three times if He loved Him? Obviously to remind Peter that he had denied Jesus three times. While Peter initially got upset that Jesus asked him three times, he quickly remembered his denial and humbled himself under Jesus’ teaching.
Next Jesus reminds Peter that if he truly did love Jesus, he would not be back in his boat fishing, but instead he would be about Jesus business of feeding and caring for Jesus’ flock, or all of the people who believed in Jesus. Here, Jesus drives home the point that He was not upset with Peter, but His goal was instead to remind Peter that he was to be a fisher of men, not fish. This talk lead Peter on the road to being the very rock that all of the other disciples would go to when they were feeling weak and tired in trying to spread the Word. Peter became their rock of support and always encouraged them on to care for the flock.
Jesus calls out to us to feed His sheep as well. Jesus already knows all of the mistakes and sins that we will and have committed. He already went to the cross to pay for them all. In return, we should learn from Peter and never forget that we need to be about the business of feeding Jesus sheep – we need to be out talking about our testimony to others who need to hear about Jesus. This could never atone for our sins, but it is the work Jesus asked us to do, and let’s face it, this is the least we can do for Jesus who gave His life for us.
“Feed my sheep.” What does that mean to you? I urge you to find ways in your own life that you can “feed my sheep.” If you are a parent, you have children to feed the Word of God to. You can feed the sheep at work as well. Simply going to church will never be enough. You must go where the people are sick in order to cure them.
“Feed my sheep.” Are you feeding the sheep? If not, why not?
With great love and prayerful encouragement,
Pastor Brad Komgenick