John 21:15 (16-17)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Chip and Joanna Gaines hit the jackpot with their HGTV show Fixer Upper. After five very popular seasons, they had become a household name and had expanded their amazing home renovation business (and tv show) into a line of home goods, retail stores, and now they are getting ready to launch their own Magnolia Network. The formula was quite simple: A charming and talented husband and wife team doing amazing home renovations for couples who were willing to take a leap of faith and purchase a home that was far from perfect in the hopes that it would be restored to a state of grandeur, beauty, and functionality.
I’ve heard this story before.
The Apostle Peter needed a major restoration. He had failed the Lord miserably by denying he even knew him after Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even worse, upon his third denial and the crowing of the rooster—as Jesus had predicted—he had to look Jesus in the face. It must have been a devastating moment. I often wonder how Peter felt when he came face to face with the risen Jesus for the first time. He was elated, for sure, but he must have also felt great shame. Would Jesus offer him another stinging rebuke? Would he confront him about his cowardice?
No. Jesus cooked him breakfast on the beach.
When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than the other disciples did—a boast Peter had made before—he already knew the depth of his love for his Master and Lord. He was creating a moment of self-reflection for Peter, as well as gently restoring him in front of the other disciples. Peter’s response was humbler than one might expect, but for good reason. Jesus’ response was a simple yet profound directive for Peter to prove his love for his Messiah by serving his sheep. And then he asked him again. And then a third time.
“Peter was grieved because he said to him a third time…”
I’m sure it only took a few moments for Peter to realize the significance of the third ask. It must have created a tidal wave of emotion for Peter as he remembered his triple failure on that fateful night. Yet, Jesus was restoring him rather than rebuking him. He knew Peter needed to have that weight lifted from his back in order to move forward in Gospel mission, and so he lovingly yet openly rebuilt Simon son of John back into Peter the Rock…and that Rock would never deny him again.
Is there a weight that YOU are still carrying? Are you a run-down home in need of restoration? Chip and Joanna can do amazing things with a shoddy and neglected old house…but the Lord Jesus Christ can do miraculous things with the broken lives of people made in His image! Jesus said quite plainly that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Mt 11:30), but only when you turn your burdens over to him. When we go to our Lord with our confessions and brokenness, he does not meet us with condemnation. He meets us with love and understanding…grace and forgiveness. That’s a beautiful home I think all of us would love to live in.