This may seem random, but maybe it is for you
Does Christ seem to be asking you the same persistent question, even though you have already answered? Maybe there is more to the question than you think.
John 21 is an amazing interaction between Jesus and the disciples, especially Peter. It seems that John, an old man as he write his gospel, is finished at the end of chapter 20. But then he comes back with another story.
Mega-failure had happened for Peter. The night before Jesus died, Peter declared his confidence, “I won’t fail Lord, even if everyone else does” Then Luke records Jesus as saying that satan is going to sift Peter like wheat but that God was going to use this failure then to develop Peter. He tells Peter, I’m praying for you, that you won’t fail me, but after you do, strengthen the brothers.(Luke 22:32) He tells him that he will deny him 3 times before morning.
So then, Jesus died, he has been resurrected, he has appeared to his disciples multiple times but I think there is this lingering question in the back of their minds about the future. “Can God still use me?” So here in John 21, Peter says “I’m going fishing” and the guys follow (Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John, and two others, probably Andrew and Philip). Peter was heading back to where he was when Jesus found him. Hmmm, who will you take with you when you think about backtracking?
So they fish, get nothing, then early in the morning, someone is on the shore and calls out to them. They were only 100 yards out. I’ve stood in the place where they say this took place. He suggests they try the other side of the boat and when they do, sure enough they have more fish than they can manage. That’s when they realize that this is Jesus. Why? Because this same thing happened the day Jesus called them to follow him and that day they left all, dropped their nets, pulled the boats up on shore, and followed him. But now, they had taken it up again, in their failure they were contemplating turning back.
There are a lot of reasons we doubt but it is usually about our failures … “Maybe he doesn’t want me …”
So, after breakfast, the question comes from Jesus to Peter. Perhaps Peter had been wondering when this question would come up. Bold Peter, had been embarrassed in the courtyard. Now Jesus asks “Peter do you truly love me more than these?” .
THESE? What these? More than these nets, more than these boats, more this these fish, more than this lake, more than these men do? That latter one is what he had proclaimed, “if all else fails Lord, not me”. And Peter answers “Yes Lord, I love you, you know that”
Tough Question, you knew it would come, now we have it out there and we can move on. Have you been there? I failed, Jesus questions, now let’s move on and pretend it hasn’t happened.
Jesus says “Feed my lambs” – or graze my little sheep
Ok Sure Lord, I’ll do that
but then immediately, the persistent Savior says “Simon, do you love me truly?”
“Why is he asking me this again? Is he trying to embarrass me?”
“Yes Lord, you now I love you”
“Take care of my sheep” or Be a Shepherd to my sheep, rule, govern, protect, tend, guide, care for … my sheep
But it doesn’t stop
Then a 3rd Time
“Simon, then do you love me?”
WOW … Three Times Lord?
Now you may know and have heard of the language dynamics that are going on here in the Greek. The first two times when Jesus says “truly love” it is the word AGAPEO or the perfect God Kind of Love. But both times when Peter answers and the word “love” is translated it is the word PHILEO which is conditional, brotherly love more like our word “like”. The last time however Jesus comes back to the word PHILEO and says Peter do you PHILEO me then?
See for me the real important dynamic in the repetition is getting Peter to the point of honesty with himself and with Christ. “Peter … do you really PHILEO me? Do you know in honesty where your heart is? You left me in the courtyard, you picked up your fishing boat and nets here again, are you with me?”
Peter was hurt it says because Jesus asked him a 3rd Time.
Has Jesus lovingly wounded you? If Jesus has wounded you, he is trying to heal you, trying to get you to the real deal.
Persistent Questions from our Savior are about understanding what is real and what is just been boasting. Persistent questioning from our Savior is about getting us to surrender and submit to walk with him in truth and to go with him to ANY destination. Persistent questions reveal the deeper truth, the deeper reality of service.
With each question Jesus says “SERVE”
“Feed my lambs”
“Take care of my sheep”
“Feed my sheep”
Here we go …
We are all ready to sign up when we think it is easy, it is notable, but now Jesus says “Peter this isn’t going to be easy” … he says “I tell you the truth … if you say yes, if you love me, it is going to cost you your comfort, your ease, your very life.” v19 Jesus indicated the kind of death by which Peter would Glorify God
When our Savior presses us with persistent questions, he is trying to lead us into lives that Glorify God … no matter the path, his glory is always the destination and so he says to Peter
Peter looks around and sees John and says “what about him Lord?”
As we point to someone else, Jesus says, as in v22, “What is it to you? YOU MUST FOLLOW ME”
So, if the Savior has persistent questions for you right now …
… take your eyes off the ground where your head is down
… take your eyes off your friend where your head is looking around
… and look up to him, look to the road ahead and follow him
Surrender, Understand, Serve, that’s what persistent questions are about
“Yes Lord, You know what I am, Yes Lord, I will Follow”