Feed My Sheep
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17
“We found the Messiah,” Andrew told Peter and then brought his brother to Jesus. But Peter went back to his job as a fisherman. One day Jesus told him to lower his nets for a catch. Peter protested, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (John 1:5). Astonished at the catch of fish that threatened to break their nets, the fishermen signaled their partners in another boat to help.
Peter then fell at Jesus’ knees saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” But Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Peter left everything and followed Jesus (John 1:8-11).
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter probably felt that Jesus had no need of a fearful man who had three times denied knowing Jesus. Peter returned to fishing again. One morning, after a night of not catching anything, he and his companions saw a man on the shore.
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” the stranger asked. “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.” When they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish, John cried, “It is the Lord!” Remembering the other time Jesus had given them such an incredible catch of fish, Peter jumped overboard and swam ashore.
On the sand Jesus had built a fire. The flames may have reminded Peter of the night he had warmed himself in the high priest’s courtyard and denied that he knew Jesus three times. This time as Peter warmed himself by the fire, Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter replied that he loved him. “Then feed my sheep,” Jesus said, reminding Peter of his call to “catch men.”
Jesus had not given up on Peter. Sometimes when we fail to act as we should, we’re tempted to think that Jesus might give up on us. But He knows our weakness. He forgives our failures and sends us out to do his will.
Read Luke 22:31-34 and John 18:12-27. What details show that Jesus knew ahead of time that Peter would deny him?
Read John 21:1-19. What details show that Jesus planned ahead of time to forgive and reinstate Peter as a “fisher of men”?
Read Acts 2:14-41. Peter later overcame his fear and became a fisher of men as Jesus predicted. In Acts 2:38-39 Peter ended his first sermon with a plea to receive forgiveness for sins. How did the audience respond?
Nancy J. Baker