Big Idea: When God restores us, He wants us to enjoy His forgiveness and learn to love Jesus more than our sin.
Context: It’s been several weeks since Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter was feeling directionless, and in John 21:5, he declared that he is going fishing. The other disciples went with him. They fished all through the night but did not catch anything. A stranger appeared on the shore and advised them cast the net on the other side of the boat. The disciples did and the nets immediately filled with fish (ironically, this same scenario had happened once before in Luke 5). John realized the stranger was Jesus, so Peter jumped out of the boat and swam to Him. Jesus had a fire going, and the disciples ate fish and bread.
As they ate, Jesus broke the silence and essentially asked Peter, “Do you still think you love me more than the rest of these guys?” (vs. 15). We can imagine Peter was humbled as he remembered his denial of Jesus, and he meekly responded that yes, he does love Jesus. At some point, Peter and Jesus walk away from the others to talk. Jesus asked him again (vs 16) if he loves Him. Peter said yes, and Jesus told him to tend His sheep. Peter and Jesus continue walking, and in verse 17, Jesus asks him again if he loves Him. Peter was grieved out of fear that Jesus didn’t believe him, and he said, “Lord, you know that I love You.” Jesus told him again to take care of His people, and then He said, “You follow Me.” Peter knew he was forgiven, restored, and called; He would be used again.
Observation: Jesus’ response to Peter’s betrayal is amazing. He could have ignored him, been sarcastic, given him a guilt trip, indebted him, belittled him, or shamed him, but Jesus didn’t. He approached Peter on the basis of relationship and love. There is no one that has been wronged by someone as egregiously as Peter wronged Jesus. This speaks volumes to us.
Peter has always been a man of action, and Jesus told Peter in this passage to back up those actions by loving and serving others. This doesn’t make up for Peter’s sin but ratherdemonstrates that he does love Jesus. We often serve with the wrong motives. We to try to make up for the debt we feel by punishing ourselves, but check your motivations. Serving others is one of the best ways we can prove that we love Jesus. We serve for this reason not to appease our conscience.
Application: How do we get back into God’s good graces after committing terrible sin? Beyond confession and repentance, nothing. God doesn’t want us to work and make up for it or pay Him back. Jesus did that for us on the cross. God wants us to enjoy His forgiveness and learn to love Him more than our sin. Experiencing the restoration of our sin makes Jesus all that more valuable and beautiful in our lives. Grace isn’t amazing unless sin is real, and the more we are confronted with our sin, the more amazing His grace becomes.
Imagine yourself standing alone with Jesus. He looks at you knowingly and says, “Do you love Me more than you love your sin? Without comparing yourself to anyone else, do you have honest affection for Me?” What would you tell Him in that moment? What sin struggles do you have right now that you would no longer have if you loved Jesus more than your sin? How are you serving others to show that you love Him? Think of the sin you have in your life. The way to conquer it is by intensifying your love of Jesus.