Reconciliation Up Close
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” —John 21:15-17
Call it a chasm or a wall, but when something goes wrong between two people, there’s an obvious obstacle between them. After Peter denied knowing Jesus (John 18:15–27), it was hard for him to see any way back into a right relationship with the Lord. And the fact that Jesus didn’t confront him or berate him in the days following the resurrection must have made Peter feel worse.
Then Jesus showed up unannounced for a shoreline breakfast during an impromptu fishing trip Peter organized with some other disciples. He didn’t say anything directly to Peter until the meal was over. Then Jesus asked, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter’s reply recorded in John 21:15 was, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Peter was expressing the caution learned from failure. Weeks before he would have blurted, “Absolutely, Lord. You can count on me.” Now he was hoping Jesus would find his faith true.
Instead of agreeing, Jesus gave Peter a job. “He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs’” (v.15).
Peter must have been thinking, What? Jesus, I denied You three times. How can You trust me with anything? Peter was struggling with the obstacle of unworthiness.
But Jesus’ entire exchange with His disciple speaks His intention: It’s all right, Peter. You did blow it. But I’m not done with you yet. Jesus didn’t even have to review the past, because it was over. He wanted Peter to know He wasn’t done with him. Peter had failed and fallen, but he was still going to be used.
Now that’s grace. The undeserved message that comes through loud and clear is, “Get up! Come home, Peter. There’s a place for you. You’re going to be used.” Reconciliation doesn’t deny the past; it moves forward in the present.
When Jesus shows up, He assures us that purpose in our lives is possible. That’s a good word for you today. Receive that hopeful message—it’s God speaking to you. He’s not done with you yet. It’s not too late for you, even if you have wandered. He can cross the chasm or tear down the wall.
Is there an obstacle between you and the Lord right now? Has a Peter-like failure complicated your hopes of a healthy relationship with God? If you’re ready for reconciliation, Jesus has been waiting. He hasn’t given up on you. He is ready to welcome you and place you into service again. Don’t wait another day to tell Him how much you love Him.
- What obstacles have crept or crashed into your relationship with God?
- How are you using Peter’s example to bring health and wholeness back to your service for Christ?
Prayer: Lord, I am overwhelmed by the patience, timing, and toughness Your Son used in restoring Peter. He never relinquished His role as Lord while He was practicing being the Good Shepherd. He could be firm with Peter even as He was restoring His disciple to a significant role. Lord, I don’t want wander away, but if I do, restore me. I long to remain faithful. Thank You for Your patience, timing, and toughness in restoring me, Lord. Lead me to a life of steadfast service to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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