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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
I have always felt bad for the part that Peter played in the story of the death of Jesus. Where many of the other disciples abandoned Jesus in the garden, Peter followed his Lord all the way to the place of the trial. It was there, though, that just as Jesus had predicted (Matthew 26:69-75), Peter denied three times even knowing Jesus. Then Jesus died on the cross.
I have always felt bad that Peter, a great person of faith, had to live with the three-fold string of denial. But Jesus didn’t leave him there. After Jesus was raised from the dead, he gave Peter a second chance (three times over) to affirm his faith in his Lord and Savior.
I am happy that Jesus gave Peter such an incredible opportunity. And I am hopeful that when I deny my Lord, in my words or my actions, Jesus is as gracious with me.
God, when my faith is strong, let my words and actions give witness to all that You have done for me in Jesus. And when my faith is weak, give me another chance to live as a faithful disciples of my Lord and Savior, Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.