15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said (says) to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to Him: “Feed My lambs”.
16 Again He (Jesus) said (says) to him a second time: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to him: “Shepherd My sheep”.
17 A third time Jesus said (says) to him: “Simon, son of John: “Do you love Me?” Peter was irritated because He said to Him a third time: “Do you love Me? So he said to Him: “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. Jesus said to him: “Feed My sheep“.
Many things have been written about these verses. It is a wonderful account of how Jesus restores and commissions Peter.
It is an account that reveals to us something of the gracious and forgiving nature of Jesus. We need to look back to before the crucifixion of Jesus when He was with His disciples in the upper room. Jesus had told them that they would all leave Him. He basically told them that when He was arrested they would all desert Him and abandon Him to the spiritual and secular forces within the nation.
Peter boldly declared that he would never leave Jesus:
33 Then He said to Him: “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with You.”
34 But He said: “Peter, I tell you that a rooster will not make its calls today until you have said three times that you do not know Me” – Luke 22.33-34.
John records Peter’s denial of Jesus.
It was something that Peter bitterly regretted, and it must have played on his mind as Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection. No doubt we can imagine how Peter felt: he had fulfilled the words of Jesus in denying Him; he had let His Master down; and he had let his fellow disciples down, as well as himself.
Peter must have felt the shame and embarrassment of all this each time Jesus came to them.
One of the beauties of these verses is how Jesus deals with Peter in gentleness. Jesus knew exactly how Peter would be feeling. Therefore, He sought to restore Him and commission him into His service.
It may be true to say that in some way or another most, if not all believers, do at times deny Jesus. It may not be in so dramatic a way as Peter. It may be in just remaining silent when we know that we should speak up for Jesus.
Therefore, all of us are in need of the gently and loving restoration of Jesus, and His re-commissioning.
When we let Jesus down we can be sure that He will not abandon us but will come to us to lovingly restore us.