After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples several times, reassuring them of his victory over death and commissioning them to carry on with his mission. One of the most significant encounters was between Jesus and Peter, who had denied him three times before the crucifixion. In this article, we’ll explore what Jesus told Peter after the Resurrection and what it means for us today.
Before we dive into the conversation between Jesus and Peter, let’s set the stage. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter followed him at a distance but eventually denied knowing him three times when confronted by others.
This was a crushing blow for Peter, who had previously declared that he would never abandon Jesus even if it meant death (Matthew 26:35). However, after the resurrection, when Mary Magdalene and other women reported that they had seen Jesus alive, Peter and John ran to the tomb to confirm it (John 20:1-9).
Later that day, while some of the disciples were gathered together in a locked room out of fear of the Jewish authorities, Jesus suddenly appeared among them (John 20:19-23). After showing them his wounds and proving that he was not a ghost but flesh and bone, he greeted them with “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). This must have been an incredible moment for everyone present, including Peter.
However, there was still unfinished business between Jesus and Peter. In John’s gospel account (21:15-19), we read about a conversation that took place between them on the shore of Lake Galilee some time later. It went like this:
When they had finished eating [breakfast], Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you 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 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. Very truly I tell you,
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.”
At first glance, this conversation might seem like a simple exchange between friends. However, there are several layers of meaning and significance that we can unpack from it.
Firstly, notice how Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. This mirrors Peter’s three denials and gives him an opportunity to make amends.
It also emphasizes the importance of love in our relationship with God and others. Love is not just a feeling or an emotion but a commitment to put the well-being of others before our own.
Secondly, notice how Jesus commissions Peter to feed his lambs and sheep. This is a clear reference to leadership responsibilities within the church. Just as a shepherd takes care of his flock by providing food and protection, so should Christian leaders take care of their congregations by teaching them God’s word and guiding them in their spiritual growth.
Thirdly, notice how Jesus predicts Peter’s future suffering and death. This is a sobering reminder that following Jesus is not always easy or comfortable.
It may require us to give up our own plans and desires in order to serve God and others. However, Jesus also promises that he will be with us always, even in the midst of trials and persecution.
In conclusion, Jesus’ conversation with Peter after the Resurrection is a powerful reminder of his love, forgiveness, and commissioning for us as his followers. It challenges us to examine our own commitment to him and our willingness to serve others. Let’s take these lessons to heart and live them out in our daily lives.