Not too long along many of us read the Gospel John’s account of the capture, trial and crucifixion of Christ. We no doubt read John 18 and the account of Peter’s denial of Jesus, not just once or twice, but three times in the same evening.
It is unfortunate that many times we lump Peter’s denial in with the rest of the Easter story and see it only as a notch on the timeline of the Passion of Christ. We miss the ending of the story that comes in John 21 and we miss the meaning for each of us.
John 18 is not about denying the existence of Christ as some would believe, instead it is about being willing to take that public stand of being identified with Christ. Being labeled a Jesus follower, even a Jesus freak if you will.
Each of us has had times in our live when we have failed to allow ourselves to be identified with Christ or as a Christian. Sometimes it might be a subtle lie of error by omission, we simply didn’t tell anyone we were a Christian and they didn’t ask so no real harm done, right? Other times might have been more overt where we didn’t act very much like a Christian, in fact in reflection, we acted very unChristian. Either way the result was the same. We failed to live up to the expectation of our commitment to stand with and walk in Christ.
15 When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Feed My lambs.
16 Again He said to him the second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Shepherd (tend) My sheep.
17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]? Peter was grieved (was saddened and hurt) that He should ask him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep. – John 21:15-17 (The Amplified [AMP] Bible)
For every time that Peter denied Christ (x3) he was given a chance to be restored and was called into service for the Kingdom. So too are we repeatedly redeemed and charged with service. We are to be feeding and tending to the lambs of Christ.
It doesn’t matter who we are or where we have been or what we have done, each of us is fully commissioned into the active mission of tending and feeding the flock of Jesus’s lambs. We each need to be showing our love of Christ with more than just lip-service, we need to be showing it with heart and hands and feet service as well.
Then, and only then, will we will be feeding His sheep.