15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 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. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Most people familiar with the Bible know this passage is a companion scripture for John 18:15-27. These two scriptures tell the story of how Peter completely abandoned Jesus at a critical moment in history and yet was restored to relationship after Jesus’s resurrection. This was an amazing act of forgiveness and reconciliation that would see Peter become a major influence in the New Testament church.
I understand Peter had a special calling, but this has left me wondering if this passage reveals the right motives for service in the kingdom of God. For each time Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus required from Peter a declaration of love and a practical way for Peter to demonstrate it.
From a deep sense of gratitude for Jesus’s forgiveness and a knowledge his own weaknesses and failures Peter was able to commit himself to a lifetime of service to God. Out of weakness came not only the ability to stay the course in his own life but the ability to strengthen others in their faith (read Luke 22:32).
This has left me wondering about my own motives for service. Am I serving from a deep sense of appreciation and are my weaknesses being turned to strengths that can serve others?
Lord, I ask you help us establish the right motives in our efforts to serve your people.
Written by David Newton