He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17)
We can focus on Jesus’ calling Peter to “feed the sheep”. We read in the Gospels and book of Acts how Peter became the leader of the young church and think that he was privileged to receive such a call (as indeed he was). But we can also learn a lot from his response to his call.
We need to consider the question: Why was Peter grieved? Peter was hurt that Christ had to ask him the question three times. Eventually he answered:
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17)
Peter was forced to look deep within his own heart. And what did he find? A consuming love for Christ. Immediately after this, Jesus said to him:
“Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” ( John 21:17-20)
Peter was martyred for his faith. Perhaps, being forced to see his love for Christ was what he needed to endure the later persecutions; he knew his faith was stronger.
Recently, I’ve been counting the cost of God’s call on my life. It’s hard to go away from family and miss out on special events in the lives of one’s friends. It has been difficult to accept that I may not ever own my own home, or even a car. But, through this, I have been forced to come to accept an even scary truth: regardless of what God asks me to sacrifice, I know that I’ll obey. That’s scary! That’s terrifying! Because when you read of what God has asked others to do…
Christians are not called to an easy life, but God gives us the strength we need to endure. He gives us the courage to step bravely out into an unknown future. And He reveals more and more of His character to us through our walk, because the more we see of Him, the more willing we will be to follow Him. When you have fallen in love with Jesus, you are compelled to follow Him.
God demands all of us, but He is worth everything!
I repeat the prayer of Maris Willis and pray that you will, too:
“Father, hear the prayer we offer; not for ease that prayer shall be, but for strength that we may ever, live our lives courageously.”