After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
I was reading a commentary (also called the exegesis—from a word meaning the critical interpretation on a text, especially of the Bible), and it pointed out something I had always missed in this passage. Look back at the passage. What name does Jesus use when speaking to Peter?
If you remember in scripture, it was Jesus who changed his name from Simon to Peter (John 1:41-42). Cephas (in Aramaic) or Peter (in Greek) means ‘rock’, and Jesus had said that “on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). No pressure there! But just as Jesus had said that Simon Peter was going to be fundamental in the founding of the church, He also knew that he would deny Him at His greatest time of need (Matthew 26:33-35) and Peter did just as it was foretold (Matthew 26:74-75).
So in the 21st chapter of John, why would Jesus address Peter (the one He re-named) by his original name of Simon? One commentary likened it to “as if he had forfeited that of Peter though his denying him.” Jesus knew that Peter needed to come clean to recommit himself to the work that lay ahead of him. Jesus began by asking “do you love me more than these?” Peter answered, truthfully, that you know I love you, but never claimed to love Jesus more than the others. Peter realized that Jesus knew the depth of his heart and soul and answered with truth and integrity. His love of his Savior was being tested and questioned, but not without reason. Jesus had great plans for Peter to “feed his sheep,” to lead the lost to the truth that could only be found through the cross. Peter was being examined and proven that he was indeed the right one for this job.
What about you? If Jesus asked you right now, “Do you love me more than these?”, what would be your honest answer?
What does God require of His disciples?
Read Luke 14:33, Luke 14:26-27, and Matthew 10:32-39
What is keeping you from giving everything you have to following Jesus?
How can you rid yourself of those things?
Like Jesus told Peter he would help to found the church, what do you feel God pressing on your heart to do?
–Keep in mind, this does not have to be monumental. It can be as simple as being a good example for your little brother or sister, or as big as what you want to major in for your college degree (and career). **Also remember that God will not always tell you the complete answer right away, He does love to teach you patience and trust in Him**