Summary: The account of Jesus' personal encounter and conversation with Peter after His resurrection reveals His interest in dealing with Peter, but also with us for whom He died. For Peter and us to love Him is the most important matter to Jesus.
“Do you love Me?” (The Interests of Jesus Resurrected.)
John 21:15-17 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.” 16 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.” 17 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”
The scripture verses today describes the first conversation that Jesus had with Peter after His resurrection . I hope as we listen the words spoken to Peter by the resurrected Jesus, we may be blessed understanding his interest and concern as resurrected Lord for Peter but also for us as well.
Jesus opened the conversation asking Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" Until then, the last conversation Jesus had with Peter was just before Jesus was arrested to be crucified. After the last supper with the disciples, Jesus had predicted to his disciples that they all would abandon Jesus at the same night. But Peter answered he wouldn’t abandon Jesus even though all other disciples would do. Then Jesus responded, “Before the rooster crows tonight, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said, "Even if I have to die, I will not deny you." (Mark 14) It was Peter’s vow not to disown Jesus no matter what happens. It was Peter’s confession that he loved Jesus more than his other disciples did.
So when Jesus asked “Do you love me more than these?” Peter evidently must have remembered his own confession and the vow not long ago. Eventually, Jesus was arrested and all his disciples ran away. Since then, Peter denied Jesus three times, and especially at the third time, he even cursed and swore to deny Jesus. At that time, as Jesus had predicted, a rooster crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had spoken about him and wept bitterly. Therefore, now Peter was more likely under the heavy burden of guilt.
But, Jesus didn't blame nor criticize Peter, but simply asked “Do you love me more than these?”
I believe Jesus meant by the question that He understood and trusted Peter in spite of Peter’s betrayal because Bible says our resurrected Lord is intercessor for us and also advocate who defends. When we sin, He would understand us in a best way and defend us. Remember, when you sin, Jesus wouldn’t criticize you. He wouldn’t bother Himself asking what you did. Instead, He would ask, “Do you love me?”
Then Jesus asked the same question "Do you love me?" second time and then again Jesus asked the same question for third time, Why did Jesus repeat the same question "Do you love me?" when he could have taught him or asked many other questions? The fact that Jesus asked the same question for three times means at least two things: this question “Do you love me?” was the most important question to Jesus and also this question was the only question that mattered to Jesus. This was how much Jesus wanted to have loving relationship with Peter and how much He loved Peter with the unchanging love in spite of Peter’s denial. There was nothing Peter could do to make Jesus loving Peter less.
But, It wasn’t Peter alone that Jesus loved with the unchanging love. In fact Jesus gave his life and was resurrected not only for Peter, but also for his other disciples and for us as well. That’s why this is what the Scripture says, "For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
It says Christ died and lived again so that we may become His and live for Him. Our resurrected Lord wants us to “be His" and He wants us to "live and die for Him." That’s why Jesus asks us "Do you love Me?" in order to know if we are His and if we we live for Him.
If Jesus asks me “Do you love me?”, I would say Yes I do. Lord. I am sure you would do the same. Then, what does loving Jesus look like to you?