Do You Love Me?
John 21:1-17; The Desire of Ages, pp. 809-815
We serve God when we take care of others.
“Again Jesus said, . . . ‘Do you love me? . . . Take care of my sheep’ ” (John 21:16).
Have you ever had someone ask you the same question over and over? Didn’t they hear my answer the first time? you may have thought. Three times Jesus asked Peter the same thing.
Peter was restless. “I’m going fishing,” he told the other disciples. At least fishing was doing something. It had been a while since Jesus had been crucified. He had appeared to them twice since His resurrection. And it was wonderful to see Him and to know that He was alive.
Jesus hadn’t mentioned that Peter had denied Him three times. Peter was still so embarrassed. He was ashamed of what he had done. He had asked God to forgive him. But he may have thought that Jesus would no longer trust him. How much do the other disciples know about it? he may have wondered. Did they know how sorry I am?
Some of the other disciples decided to go fishing with Peter. So just as the sun was going down they stepped into Peter’s boat. The wind soon swept them across the water. They stayed out all night—but they caught nothing. What a waste of a night’s work, Peter probably thought.
Early in the morning, just as the sun was coming up, they returned to shore—without any fish. As their boat drew closer to shore they noticed a man standing on the beach. The man called out, “Have you caught any fish?”
The disciples called back, “No, none at all.”
The man called out again. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. You will find some.”
Perhaps they wanted to please the man. Or perhaps they just wanted to try once more. Whatever the reason, they did what the man said.
Immediately their nets were full of fish! They couldn’t even haul their nets into the boat!
Suddenly John recognized the man and called to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter was so happy to see Jesus again! Jesus was waiting for them! The boat was very close to shore, so Peter decided not to wait. He jumped out of the boat and hurried through the water to Jesus. The others followed in the boat. When they reached shore, they found that Jesus had made a fire. He was cooking some fish for their breakfast. They soon enjoyed the fish and some bread.
After breakfast Jesus turned to Peter. “Do you truly love Me more than these?” He asked.
Peter immediately answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
Jesus looked into Peter’s eyes and said quietly, “Feed My lambs.”
Again Jesus asked, “Peter, do you truly love Me?”
And Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
Jesus replied, “Take care of My sheep.”
A third time Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter didn’t know what to think. Perhaps he wondered if Jesus didn’t believe him. And why did Jesus ask three times? Was it because Peter had denied Jesus three times?
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him three times.
With a heavy heart Peter answered, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said again, “Take care of My sheep.”
Finally Jesus said to Peter, “Follow Me.”
Peter realized then that Jesus had forgiven him. Jesus still wanted Peter to follow Him.
Why did Jesus ask Peter these questions in front of the other disciples? So they would know that He had forgiven Peter.
Jesus also wanted to teach Peter a lesson in patience, sympathy, and forgiveness. Peter would need all of that in the future. He had a work to do for Jesus. He would lead and care for many new believers of Jesus during the rest of his life.
Jesus also wanted us to know something special. There is only one thing we must do to follow and serve Him—love Him with all our hearts. And when we really do, we will want to take care of others too.