You Know That I Love You.
Sometime soon after his denial, Peter was with Jesus. Jesus asked Peter, three times “… do you love me?” Peter had already answered yes twice. Then he was asked a third time. Didn’t Jesus believe him the first 2 times?
Jesus knew of Peter’s sins and failure and had a purpose in pressing on Peter’s pain three times. What was that pain? His Pain was his rejection of Jesus on the night of His trial. Peter denied ever knowing him. This was a sin that hurt Peter, even though he knew it would happen. When Jesus told Peter that He would sin, Peter responded that he would never deny him, that he would lay his life down for Jesus. Yet, when confronted and accused, Peter could not face his accusers and did exactly what Jesus said he would do – deny him. Peter was likely reliving that denial in his mind while Jesus questioned Him. Peter had failed, but he did love Jesus. So, when Jesus asked Peter a third time…do you love me? Peter was left with nothing. All this once proud man could do was to appeal to Jesus’ divine nature. He said,
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus knew that Peter loved him. But if he knew, then why did Jesus go through this painful exercise with him? What Jesus did was to allow Peter confess his love three times to parallel the three times he had denied him. Peter repented, received grace and Jesus told him that soon there would be another opportunity to confess his love publicly in the face of death. Then Jesus said, “Follow me.” This is radical love. Jesus loved Peter and restored him.
Jesus chose Peter. And like Peter, when Jesus chose me, he foresaw my failures just as he foresaw Peter’s denial. While Peter’s denial lasted a single night, mine lasted much longer and encompassed a lot of selfishness and sinfulness. I do not want to think that I could ever deny Jesus again by sinning as Peter did. Yet Jesus knows what I will do, and he knows what you will do. So, he encourages us with Peter:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matt. 26:41
We have the promise of what Jesus said to Peter before his failure: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter was going to fail. I do not know if you are going to fail, I do not know if I am going to fail. What I do know is that just as Jesus prayed for Peter, so he also prays for us. Jesus’ prayer was stronger than Peter’s sin, and it is stronger than my sin and your sin.
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Just as Peter’s failure did not define him, he was the rock upon which Jesus built his church, so mine do not define me. My sin and shame are completely covered by Jesus. Your sins do not need to define you either. Jesus paid for them all on the cross if you believe. What defines me? Jesus does. Jesus can turn any sinner, even one who denies Him three times, into a “rock.” Peter had the faith to walk on water for a moment, and was declared the rock before he denied Jesus… and I am just one Christian dad. I am a long way from being a rock, but I do have a rock in Christ who intercedes for me before our Father in Heaven. In Him I find my strength, and so can you. We are not stronger than his grace. Our sins are not too big or too grievous to be covered by him. If you have forsaken him or denied him, or never knew him, lift up your eyes and see, he can and will repair things. Seek his face. Ask him. Receive his grace.
Repent and believe.