This perhaps is my favorite chapter of the Bible. It is not the most important but it is one of my favorites to study.
Read John Chapter 21.
So the boys went fishin. Simon (Peter) is back tracking into his old life. In the mist of confusion and not understanding, Peter is wanting to go back into comfortable standards. They caught nothing. Going back to comfortable standards is usually fruitless. And then Jesus shows up... and tells them to throw their nets on the right side of the boast. They obey and they catch 153 large fish. But I am not going to focus on the miracle but on the conversation that followed.
Peter was known to be the disciple that would speak and would be over zealous and boastful. I, often times have to remind myself that Peter and I are a lot alike. Here, Peter who is the "ROCK", did not even realize who Jesus was at first. The same man who called him from a life of fishing was now calling him back from fishing. In verse 7 it says, "Therefore that disciple who Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord". John never really referred to himself as "me or I". He was very humble. Some suggest that he wasn't because he called himself "the disciple who Jesus loved"... but to me I am also reminded that I am overwhelmed that Christ loves me. I bet John, as well as most believers, are also a little bit in awe that Christ truly loves them and it is something that we can't forget. We are overwhelmed by it. John had to tell Peter who Christ was and then his eyes were reopened. The same man who got the title "Rock" because he could identify that Christ was the Son of God is now having to be reminded by a friend.
Then Jesus asks Peter 3 questions. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus did this for every time that Peter denied Him. Here we see something change in Peter. This is Peter's best moment, when he is completely honest before Jesus. Not trying to prove anything. Guilt hung over him...
"Simon, do you love me?"... Jesus asked Peter if Peter loved Him. The word for love here means a sacrificial love and Peter responds with, "Yes, you know I love you" but a different word is used for love in Peter's response. Peter responded honestly, I don't have a sacrificial love for you but I have a brotherly love. Jesus told him to "Feed his sheep". Here Jesus is telling Peter to give the Truth and to speak truth into the lives of people. Here Peter is called to be an evangelist.
Jesus asks a second time, "Simon, do you love me?" Peter responds in the same way, "Yes, Lord with a brotherly love." And Jesus tells him to shepherd His sheep. Or to mature the sheep. To make sure they stay on the right path and move. Here Peter gets the commission to be more than just a evangelist but to be Pastor.
Jesus asks a third time, "Simon, do you love me?" This time Jesus meets Peter at Peter's level and changed the word of love to mean brotherly love. Jesus tells him to "Tend to His sheep"... to care for them. To make sure they are taken care of. Here Peter is called to love.
Peter is completely honest with Jesus. He told Christ right where he was at. He didn't try and make himself look good, in fact, he probably made himself look bad. Christ was asking if Peter loved him enough to die for Him and Peter could not answer that. He did love him but he had just denied the Lord three times. Peter, in that moment, did not have sacrificial love for Christ. And yet, honesty is rewarded and Christ still calls Peter higher. Christ didn't demote him but gave him a raise.
Then Christ tells Peter that he will die in a similar fashion to Him. This tells me that Christ knew Peter would get to a point of having sacrificial love for Him. One day, Peter would be willing to die for Christ. And Christ met Peter right where he was at. That is what our Lord does. I don't care if you are new to studying the Word or if you have been in Bible study for 102 years. Christ meets us right where we are and calls us higher.
Then Christ said, "Follow me"... But Peter seems to fall off the mountain top again when he wonders how John is going to die. Apparently, the idea of being crucified scared Peter and he is wondering if all or if some disciples are going to be treated "fairly" here. When Peter took his eyes of Christ and looked around at the other believers Christ corrected him by repeating the words, "Follow me!". We are not called to follow other Christians but to follow Christ. It doesn't matter what other Christians are called to do... we are to follow Him.
Follow Him. Peter was honest and because of honesty he was given a commission. He had to be corrected but we both know that Peter went away from that day and did end up with the sacrificial love for Christ. We don't have to be great to be called but we are called to greatness! A man who denied the Lord became an evangelist, pastor, and loved... And the church is to follow Him.