Look at social media and listen to people’s stories and you’ll notice that gathering around a fire is something friends do. We like to get together around a campfire or a bonfire. We can open up and be ourselves. I won’t get into that too deep right now, because I want to get into my point so I don’t ramble.
In John chapter 21 we find the disciples basically going back to what they had known before Jesus. See, this is right after the crucifixion and resurrection. They’ve seen him alive, but they’re kind of just wondering what to do. Peter was a fisherman before Jesus called him so he went back to what he knew. Some of the others joined him. They fished all night and didn’t catch anything. But morning comes Jesus calls to them from the shore. They don’t know it’s him at first. He asks them if they have any food. They hollered back No. So he tells them to cast their net on the other side of the ship. They did, and they caught so many fish, they couldn’t bring the net in. John said to Peter, it’s the LORD!
What does Peter do? He doesn’t wait for the boat to get to shore. He jumps right in and starts heading for Jesus. You see, he was still living with his denial of Jesus. It had only been a few days before when Jesus was tried and crucified. Three times he was asked if he was with Jesus or one of them. He denied it all three times. Then the rooster crowed and he went out and wept. He had spent every day with Jesus. He knew him deeply. He learned at Jesus feet and ate with him. Yet he denied that he knew him.
Jesus Gets Personal Here
So, Peter jumps into the water to get to Jesus as quickly as he can. While there this is what Jesus asks him…from verses 15-17:
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
There around the fire, Jesus got real personal with Peter. We don’t know what was going on in Peter’s mind. We can only put ourselves in his shoes. I know if it was me and I was sitting down to eat with the man I had denied I knew three times. Denied him when he needed me most? I’d still be feeling super guilty. So when Jesus asks him Peter, do you love me? I imagine it was cutting into him. The third time it says Peter was grieved because he asked again. Jesus knew Peter loved him and he didn’t need to hear it three times, but Peter needed to hear it. Peter needed to speak it. Jesus showed Peter so much grace and put the episode behind him once and for all. Peter could have went forth with that denial hanging over his head the rest of his life, but Jesus wasn’t about to let that handicap him. Because that’s what it would have done.
What’s handicapping you today? What wrong have you done? What guilt are you living with? Sit down with Jesus and get personal with him. He loves that by the way. He loves it when we get personal. Jesus wants to free you from all the sin and all the guilt so you can go forward and do what he has for you to do.
Do YOU love him?