This is a very famous passage in which three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Why did Jesus ask this? Because he doubted Peter’s love?
That would have been a reasonable response by Jesus. After all, Peter had denied knowing him three times.
Wouldn’t you doubt someone like that?
But I think we see clearly that Jesus does not doubt Peter’s love at all.
We see this in two ways.
First, he tells Peter, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.”
Would Jesus tell Peter do this if he had any doubt in his mind concerning Peter’s love?
Second, Jesus essentially tells him, “I know you love me. I know because the day will come when you will die for my sake.” (18-19)
So why did Jesus question Peter?
Perhaps one reason was that Jesus had been looking right at him when Peter denied knowing him the third time (Luke 22:61). And he knew Peter needed the chance to look at him in the eyes and reaffirm his love for Jesus. More, Peter needed to know that Jesus believed in his love. And that’s what Jesus did for Peter that day. He said, “Yes, Peter, I know you love me. I know you failed miserably. But I do not doubt your love.”
And then he told Peter. “Follow me.”
Sometimes we feel like Peter. We’ve failed miserably, and we wonder, “What does Jesus think of me? Does he doubt my love for him?”
Sometimes, we feel need to prove our love for him because of our failure.
But we don’t need to prove our love to him.
Jesus already knows our hearts. And while he sees us now with all our weaknesses and our failures, he also sees what he will be.
But remember this: it’s not that Jesus knows we will change ourselves and make ourselves better Christians. It’s that Jesus knows that he will never give up on us, and he will keep working on us until the day we are complete. (Philippians 1:6)
So more than believing in ourselves and our love for him, let us believe in him and his love for us. And with our eyes fully fixed on him and his love, let us follow our Shepherd wherever he leads.