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.”John 21:15
Does it seem like Jesus leaves you alone in your fights sometimes? You can find hope in his dealings with Peter before, during, and after Peter’s fight with Satan.
Jesus cared about Peter, even in the face of his own approaching trial. Before Peter fought the devil, Jesus prepared him. He described the temptation and assured Peter he was praying for his faith. He told Peter that although he would lose the fight, a better future was coming: “Behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32).
When Jesus was arrested, Peter and John trailed the Roman soldiers into the courtyard outside the trial. The pressure in the room was high, but so was the pressure in the courtyard. Once, twice, three times, people suspiciously accused Peter of being connected to the man on trial. Once, twice, three times, Peter denied knowing Jesus.
As the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and caught Peter’s eye. Peter’s conscience was speared: the devil had bested him. Although Jesus’s death was approaching, he was still concerned for Peter’s soul.
Once he heard about Jesus’s resurrection, Peter’s heart must have held both marveling hope and crushing guilt. The Lord knew that Peter was mortified and had his angel single out Peter when announcing the news to Mary Magdalene: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7).
Later, a few disciples joined Peter on a fishing trip in Galilee. Jesus appeared to them on the shoreline, and a miraculous haul of fish revealed it was him. Peter scurried into the Sea of Galilee to get to Jesus as quickly as he could.
Three times, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times, once for each denial, Peter affirmed his love for Jesus, and the Lord told him to feed his lambs, to tend his sheep, to feed his sheep, and to follow him.
Consider how much Jesus cared for Peter. He dealt so tenderly with Peter in a trial he knew Peter would fail. He prepared him. He encouraged him, in spite of his overconfidence. Jesus looked past his own pain to Peter at Peter’s moment of failure. Jesus sent word to Peter by name after rising from the dead. He took him aside after the resurrection to assure him of his forgiveness and future usefulness.
- Reflect: If you have fallen, have you repented? Jesus still knows you and cares for you. Tears of repentance may need to fall, but that’s okay. The Lord loves to forgive his children. Your spiritual life is not over.
- Act: Turn Peter’s story of failure and restoration into specific prayers. Connect your story with Peter’s intentions, confidence, failure, shame, and restoration.
*This post is written by a friend, pastor, and fellow biblical counselor John Crotts. Check out his excellent new 31-day devotional: HOPE: Living Confidently in God.