“… do you love Me more than these? … Then feed My lambs….”John 21:15 (NLT2)
Easter brings restoration! Restoration of hope! Restoration of life! Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can begin again! We are not a product of our past. Our failures don’t define us anymore! That’s the message of John 21!
As we conclude our journey through the gospel of John, we find ourselves overhearing a personal conversation between the Lord Jesus and Simon Peter as Jesus restores Peter and commissions him for service. John said that this was the third time Jesus had appeared to His disciples since He had been raised from the dead. With all that had just transpired the past few days, we can only imagine what Peter must have felt as Jesus spoke with him.
There was a time before the crucifixion that Peter was so convinced of his loyalty to Jesus that he bragged he would never deny Him. He told Jesus that he was ready to die for Him in John 13. In John 18, he even pulled a sword on one of the temple guards and slashed off his ear when they came to arrest Jesus. But, later that night, disillusioned and afraid, Peter would deny He even knew Jesus on three occasions just as Jesus predicted he would. When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered what Jesus had told him and wept bitterly over his own failure.
When Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty early that Sunday morning and ran to tell Peter, he and John went to the tomb to investigate. They saw the tomb and the linen wrappings lying there – but no body. John tells us in John 20:9,
“for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.”
In John 21, we’re told that Jesus appeared again to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and two other disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing. At dawn, they heard a voice calling them from the beach asking if they had any fish.
“No,” they replied. Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” John 21:5-6 (NLT)
I love Jesus’ sense of humor! “Oh, the problem is that we’ve been fishing on the wrong side of the boat?” they must have thought. Whatever the case, when they did what Jesus said, they couldn’t haul in the net because it was so full of fish! Obedience always brings blessing!
When Simon Peter realized it was Jesus, he jumped out of the water and swam to shore. He no longer cared about the great catch of fish. What mattered to him was seeing Jesus! That encounter with Jesus on the shore of Galilee would change his life forever! As the others were eating the breakfast Jesus had prepared for them, He called Peter aside and spoke to him. Three times, Jesus asked Peter the same question.
“Simon son of John, do you love Me?” John 21:15 (NLT)
With each question, “Do you love Me?” Jesus gave Simon a command, “Feed My lambs. Take care of My sheep. Feed My sheep.” Never once did Jesus bring up Peter’s past, his failure when he had denied Jesus three times. Instead, Jesus restored Peter to service with the only motivation that can make service a success – love! Love for the Savior is the prerequisite for service. Jesus didn’t ask Peter if he loved sheep. Peter was a fisherman by trade, not a shepherd. He asked Peter if he loved Him.
Jesus was not through with Peter. Maybe, like Peter, you’ve made some bad choices, some terrible mistakes and your past haunts you. As you read this final chapter in John, experience the restoration that Easter brings. Hear the Lord Jesus asking you, “Do you love Me?” Then do what Jesus told Peter, “Follow Me.” God is not through with you either! Your best days are just ahead! Easter brings restoration! Rejoice in the Christ who restores your life and promises to fulfill His purpose in you! Trust your future to Him and continue the adventure of your journey with Jesus each day in His Word.