Jesus appears to 7 of the disciples, including Peter, while they are fishing. The disciples started to paddle to shore when they realized Jesus was standing there and he cooked breakfast for them. Peter didn’t wait for the boat to arrive. He jumped out and swam to Jesus. This is the first time we see Jesus and Peter having a conversation since the Last Supper. I’m sure Peter was feeling really stuck. How could he face Jesus after what he did? He swore he would never deny him, and yet he did. Jesus takes Peter aside, away from the other disciples, so they can have a private conversation.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” He asks the question three times. That’s not a coincidence. Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to affirm his belief after his denial. That’s what Peter needed. He needed a chance to show Jesus that he did love him.
Christ does that for us too. No matter what’s happened in our lives, what we’ve done, where we’ve been, how we’re stuck, he gives us chances to affirm him. We always have an opportunity to come back and move forward.
Jesus doesn’t leave things there though. Every time he asked Peter the question, “Do you love me?” he didn’t just leave things with Peter’s answer. Jesus took things a step forward by giving a command.
Jesus didn’t just give Peter a pat on the back after he affirmed his love and say, “Oh, that’s ok.” Jesus charged him with action. He said, if you love me then act upon that love. If you love me, then build my church. If you love me, then care for my people. If you love me, then help make sure others don’t get stuck like you got stuck. Jesus commissioned Peter in a moment when Peter was both excited to see Jesus and also ashamed of what he had done. That moment became a transforming moment in his life. Peter went on to build the church as we talked about in our last sermon series.
You can carry forward the same charge and commission as Peter. No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been in your life, God has a place for you in his church for ministry. He has something he wants you to do. When he asks you if you love him, he wants you to act upon that love and serve his church because of that love. It’s only through action we can prove to God that our words are not empty words.
If you want to do something about your love for God, if you want to act, I’m here to help you. Please come find me after service or give me a call in the church office. I’d love to help you step out and serve God in some way.
Look at the last two words of the passage, “Follow Me.” When Jesus first called Peter from the Sea of Galilee as he fished with his brothers, Jesus said to him.
It seems fitting that the last thing Jesus says to Peter in this passage again is for him to follow him.
After all that has happened to Peter in the past week, Jesus is giving him another chance to say, “Yes” to following him. Saying yes to Jesus and following him sets us free from all the things of this world that hold us back.