Today’s passage: John 21:12–25
Focus verse: Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17)
As Jesus wraps up his stint on earth, he spends time with the disciples he trained for three years. They must carry on without him, albeit under Holy Spirit direction. He wants to make sure they’re ready.
First, he must restore Peter, who, a few days earlier, claimed to have no connection with Jesus. It was Peter’s darkest moment. He denied even knowing his teacher.
Yet I don’t criticize Peter for this. Although I hope to respond better than Peter, I suspect that if facing the threat of death, I could do the same thing.
Considering the depth of Peter’s error and what it implies, the master is gentle but intentional. To counter Peter’s three denials, Jesus has his wayward disciple give three affirmations of love.
Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Three times Peter confirms he does. Three times for emphasis.
Each time Jesus then tells Peter to “Take care of my followers,” that is, his church.
Then Jesus ends with the simple instruction to “Follow me.”
These are the essential requirements of faith: To love Jesus and follow him. It’s that simple. And don’t let anyone tell you faith in Jesus is any more complicated.
Just as Jesus restored Peter into right relationship after the disciple turned his back on his Rabbi, Jesus wants to make us right with him and Papa when we falter. We need only affirm our love for him and do what he tells us to do, which starts with following him.
Yet following Jesus isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a recurring resolve to go after Jesus each day. This includes the days we feel like it and even more so on the days we don’t.
We follow Jesus when our life is going well and we’re walking in close fellowship with him.
An even more important consideration is to stick with Jesus when life isn’t so great, when we want to give up, or when we question if our commitment is worth the cost. It is.
If we stray from Jesus, he waits for us to return. (Consider the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11–32.) With open arms Jesus asks if we love him. We say yes, and he once again reminds us to follow him.
- How can you live your life under Holy Spirit direction, like the disciples?
- How have you responded to your darkest moment?
- Do you see God as being gentle with you? Why?
- What must you do to follow Jesus every day?
- When you mess up, how willing are you to profess anew your love for him and follow him?
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Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.