Ezra 6-8 John 21
“A third time he said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ Peter said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!’ He said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:17 NCV)
I don’t know when Peter realized what Jesus was doing. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. At some point in that discussion, Peter must have realized that Jesus did this because of Peter’s denials. (At least that’s what I believe.) There is a belief among some Christians that because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross, we never need to repent, or we never need to feel sorrow for our sin. The truth is, as Jesus showed, there comes a dialogue with God when we do wrong that brings about restoration, and sometimes that dialogue hurts as we’re forced to remember how we hurt God by our sin. Jesus had already forgiven and died for Peter, but he needed to go through this conversation with Jesus so that he would realize the depth of his sin and the price of restoration. Peter was fully restored though, and Jesus gave him a mission: feed the sheep.
I’m sure Peter was a bit tentative in his interactions with Jesus after the resurrection. He knew that he’d denied Jesus. This process allowed him the opportunity to experience restoration. God didn’t need Peter to go through this, Peter needed it. There are times when we sin against God in other ways than Peter did. Sometimes we experience God’s forgiveness immediately. At other times, we can’t experience forgiveness unless God deals with us and our sin restoratively. I don’t think Jesus was judging Peter in this situation so much as restoring him. At the same time, when our guilt is so deep that we’re not willing to accept God’s forgiveness the way He gives it to us, He finds ways to restore us. It’s important to realize that we’ve already been forgiven by God. That happened at the cross. When God restores us, it doesn’t affect how He sees our relationship. God’s restoration affects how we see that relationship. Restoration can hurt, in part because we see how our sin hurt God and others, but God always brings restoration through His love and grace.
Lord, sometimes my faith is small, and I need to be restored. My sin overwhelms me, and I wonder how You can still love me. Remind me of Your love as You restore our relationship.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.