JOHN 21:15-19 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. 18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

            Simon son of John was the name Jesus had said when He first met this man who would become His disciple (John 1:42). But Peter had not yet proven himself to live up to that name-Peter, “the rock.” According to Luke 24:34, Jesus had probably met with Peter previously. Jesus’ first question to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” could be translated in three ways: (1) “Do you love me more than these men love me?” (2) “Do you love me more than you love these men?” (3) “Do you love me more than these things?” (that is, the fishing boat, nets, and gear). Of the three options, the first seems the most appropriate because Peter had boasted that he would never forsake Jesus, even if all the other disciples did (see Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37). This was the same as saying that he had more love for Jesus than the others did.

Peter did just the opposite of what he boasted: He denied Jesus three times. As a consequence, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” to affirm Peter’s love and commitment. Each time Peter told Jesus, “I love you,” Jesus exhorted Peter to care for his flock: “Feed my lambs” (John 1:15); “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:16); “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). Lambs and sheep can be taken as words of endearment. Our Lord Jesus Christ’s love and concern is for all believers-the entire “flock” that would grow as a result of the apostles’ ministry.

Our Lord Jesus Christ used a proverbial statement about old age to depict Peter’s death, which was by crucifixion. From this day onward, Peter knew what death lay before him. Peter never forgot this prophecy from Jesus; Peter referred to it in his Second Epistle when he spoke about his imminent death (see 2 Peter 1:14). Peter was crucified in Rome under Nero around A.D. 65-67. By HIs words, “Follow me,” Jesus was reinstating and restoring Peter as His disciple. What assurance these words must have been for Peter. Despite what glory or trial or death lay ahead, he would always be under the Savior’s care, for he would be following Jesus.
Three years earlier, along the same lake, Jesus had said the same words to Peter-”Follow me.” These words mean “Keep on following.” Stripped of pride, impulsiveness, and false expectations of leadership, Peter was ready to follow Christ in a new way because of new experiences and a clearer picture of himself.

“Follow Memeans consistent discipleship and steadfast pursuit of Christ, even if that requires martyrdom. It means continuing Christ’s work in the way He wants it done, not in a way we want it done.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER BY Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries

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