John 19-21: A Second Chance

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."

A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17, RSV

 

Have you ever thought how beautiful this passage truly is? It occurred after Jesus had risen from the dead, and therefore after Peter had denied Jesus three times on the eve of His crucifixion. I imagine Peter would still have been devastated at the thought of having denied his Lord and Savior and friend. After Peter had the courage to stand side by side with Jesus, sword in hand, in the garden, he had then run for his life. Then, when he had finally worked up the courage to go and see what was to become of Jesus, he denied even knowing him, not once, but three times.

 

You can only imagine how low Peter must have felt, even after Jesus had risen from the dead. For though we know he was overjoyed at the knowledge that Jesus lived, he still must have had tremendous shame at his having abandoned and denied the One whom he had so boldly promised he would never deny.

 

And then we find this scene: Jesus asks Peter, not once, but three times, "Do you love me?" And Peter is given three opportunities, the same number of times he had denied, to now affirm his love for his friend and savior. And Jesus lets Peter know that he is welcomed back into His service by being told to feed his sheep.

 

And Peter takes this second chance by doing this very thing for the rest of his life.

 

When you think about it, we have all been given a second chance. What will we do with ours?

 

The reading for the 87th - 89th days of reading through the New Testament one chapter a day is from John chapters 19-21. It tells us all about that second chance.