John 21: 15-17
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
The last moments that John records of Jesus with His apostles finds them having breakfast on the shore after their unsuccessful night of fishing and Jesus gracious provision of food for them. He brings them both food for the body and for the soul. After they had eaten and were fellowshipping together Jesus and Peter have an opportunity to talk and from Peter’s view they had a lot to catch up on after his denial of Jesus in His hour of distress and trial. Yet we see that Jesus is not focused on the past but the future and how Peter will live as he goes forward from this day. Some commentaries pair the threefold request from Jesus to Peter as a type of follow up to the three denials Peter made and maybe so but the focus here is on Jesus’ love for Peter and the ministry He prepared Peter for while he was alive. We may not often read God’s word and ask ourselves the question over and over if we believe on Faith that God loves us. The question can be asked of us at any point and time in any day – do we Love God. Simply saying it over and over will not suffice to prove out our feelings and gratitude to God for His Grace extended to us in Jesus Christ. Our lives have to show forth fruit of our Love for God in how we behave and treat others. All of us like sheep can go astray and need the help, kindness and encouragement from others that feed the empty place in our souls to renew our acceptance and commitment of our Love for God. Sometimes we repeat questions to make sure the question and the answer are understood. Jesus was not repeating to change Peter’s mind or even for him to reflect back to his prior failures. The text says Jesus repeated His first question and then asked a third time. Maybe God asks us the question over and over not for us to answer differently but to get to work on our first answer………………….