When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus and Peter
Jesus didn’t hurry the process of Peter’s restoration. The Savior asked three times for affirmation of the apostle’s love, reflecting Peter’s three denials during Christ’s passion. Gospel surgery is free, but not always easy. Grace produces redemptive pain, not punitive pain. But pain is still painful. Indeed, the gospel brings an end to all deadening worldly grief. But the gospel is the beginning of enlivening godly grief (2 Cor. 7:10–11). The law condemns, the gospel convicts; the law creates self-centered tears, the gospel creates God-centered tears.
“Do you love me more than these?” It would have been easier on Peter had Jesus asked him, “Do you promise not to fail me again?” But Jesus knew better than to ask that question, because, of course, Peter would fail again (e.g., Gal. 2:11–21). Jesus is more jealous for our love than zealous for our works. If he has our hearts, he’ll have everything else.
*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.