Summary: Failure is not final. Looking at the reinstatement of Peter, we see that we can go back to Jesus and be used by him. John 21

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said , “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, What about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

May God bless the reading of his Holy Word, now and forever – let us pray. Father may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you, oh Lord our Rock and our redeemer.


As many of you know, Peter was one of Jesus most devoted disciples. In many ways he was seen as the leader, and Jesus had even changed his name from Simon to Peter, meaning the Rock. And yet Peter had many faults. He talked big and yet couldn’t always follow through – most recently and most painfully, hours after claiming that even though everyone else might fall away he would stand strong. He would even die for Jesus – he stands terrified before servants and slave girls swearing that he did not even know Jesus. Can you imagine the shame, the humiliation? Jesus then rises from the tomb, and while Peter rejoices in the return of his friend and teacher, he also wonders – have I gone too far this time? Will it ever go back to what it was between us? Will Jesus ever trust me again? How could I have done it? I wish I could go back…

But in spite of these fears Peter does three things right. And this is what we will be looking at this morning. In my research there is so so much richness in this passage – hundreds of different sermons could be written and each time we read it something else could speak to us. I encourage you to do some research and a Bible study into what happens here as in the time we have this morning, we will only begin to scrape the surface, not mine its depths.

We can read slightly before our passage that when Jesus walked along the shore, Peter dives in the water to meet with him. In verse 7 we read

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him, and jumped into the water.”

The first thing Peter does is that he runs to (or in this instance swims to) Jesus. I know when I’ve offended someone my instinct is to avoid them. The shame and embarrassment makes me want to hide rather than to seek them out, and yet here Peter cannot even wait for the boat to arrive at the shore. Ever impulsive Peter goes straight to his master.

“Come to me” Jesus says

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened”

“Let the little children come to me” Luke 18:16

“…Come to me to have life” John 5:40

“He who comes to me will never go hungry…” John 6:35

“If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink” John 7:37

“…Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” John 6:37

I don’t know where you are this morning or what it is that keeps you from going to Jesus. Perhaps you feel you have stumbled too far off the path, perhaps you feel it’s been too long, maybe its shame or fear or anger. Maybe its sheer laziness or apathy – it might even be a blindness we have to the slippery path we have begun to walk and so feel no need to go to Jesus – it’s just a little thing we rationalise…

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