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.
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.
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.” John 21:15-17
My wife Denise and I are both apologizers. Our tendency to apologize repeatedly is one of the points of tension in our relationships. We both struggle with apologizing, and then apologizing again, and on the good nights we will throw in a third one just to be safe. We will say, “We are okay” after the first apology, yet something in us still offers more apologies. We had to make a rule that we can only say two, “I am sorry-s” and then we move on.
Somewhere rooted in Denise and I is the desire to keep balance in our rights and wrongs. If we make a mistake towards each other, we feel as though we need to maintain more apologies than mistakes. One apology is not good enough. We are not alone in this way of interacting. For a lot of us, we often struggle with feeling as though a single, “I am sorry” is enough to cover the smallest mistake. For me, this struggle does not exist only with other people, but even with God. When I sin against God, I feel as though one apology does not give me the right to His forgiveness. When I struggle with OAS (Over-Apologizing Syndrome), I think back to this moment for Simon Peter.
We all know Peter for his boldness and successes. Yet, when it comes to what Peter is most known for, it’s probably denying knowing Jesus three times. Peter was a disciple of Jesus, one of the guys who walked with Jesus intimately and learned from Jesus first-hand. Yet, while Jesus was going through His trials our guy Peter on three different occasions denied ever knowing Jesus. This does not seem like behavior for someone who earlier stated, “Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You!’” (Matthew 26:35).
Peter failed to live up to his words when Jesus was on trial. I could not imagine how he must have felt after denying Jesus. On some level, we all get how it feels to deny Jesus. We face temptations every day that try to get us to deny our trust in Him. Anytime we make the choice to give into sin, we deny Jesus. The choice we make to give into sin is a choice to deny we believe Jesus is the better choice. Fortunately for us, we get to hear the same words Jesus told Peter.
Jesus knew Peter was full of shame and embarrassment for his denials, but He still found a way to remind Peter that he was forgiven. We know Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, and in this interaction, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter responded, “Yes!” Jesus balanced everything out with Peter. Peter was able to confess his love for Jesus, just as many times as Peter had previously denied Jesus. Peter was able to realize how complete Jesus’ forgiveness was, even towards those who denied Him.
Jesus’ complete forgiveness is available for us as well. He does not require an “I love you” for every sin we give into. The author of Hebrews described it like this: “Jesus has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus’ one sacrifice covered all of our sins, and this allows us to tell Him we love Him because of what He has already done. We have a reason to rejoice since Jesus never keeps a tally mark and waits for us to equal out the balance because He has more grace than we have sin (Romans 5:20).
Rest in the reality of the forgiveness Jesus extends to you. Do you hear Jesus asking, “Do you love Me?” What would be your response to Jesus’ question?
Trust in the complete grace and forgiveness Jesus has for you, and allow it to help you in the battles with temptation.
Father, thank you for giving me grace upon grace. I am grateful that when I deny You, You still meet me with love and compassion. Help me to live forgiven so that others see what they can have in You. Help me to run to You in the midst of temptation and know You are always the better choice. I love You Father, and I pray these things in Your holy name, Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.