Jesus appeared to different people at different times in the days following His Resurrection.
Mark 16: 7 records an angel telling the women, “Now go and give this message to His Disciples including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.” It is interesting that Jesus wanted to be sure the Message got through to Peter to let him know Jesus still considered him His Disciple.
Luke 24:32 records how Jesus appeared to two of His Followers on the road to Emmaus. Within the hour, they were on their way back to Jerusalem, where the eleven disciples and the other followers of Jesus greeted them with these words, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter!”
So Peter had seen the Lord in the days following His Resurrection. I’m guessing it was a private, intimate encounter. The details are not recorded. But perhaps it was in those moments that Peter asked for and received Jesus‘ forgiveness.
However, Peter was to have another encounter, in which Jesus commissioned him to carry out the work he was created to do. Peter went fishing. Some of the other followers went with him. The scene was very reminiscent of Peter’s first fishing trip with Jesus. They fished all night and got nothing.
John records that at dawn, they saw a man on the beach, but they could not tell who he was. The man called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” The words “Friends” should have gotten their attention, but they were still focused on their present needs … and failures. “No,” they answered.
Jesus told them, “Throw out your net on the right hand side of the boat, and you’ll get plenty of them!” They did and they did! They couldn’t even pull in the net because it was so heavy with fish. Does this sound familiar? Yes, this was a repeat of Peter’s first up close encounter with Jesus!
John recognized Jesus, and said, “It is the Lord!” But it was Peter, who sprang into action, jumped out of the boat and swam to Jesus. As Peter jumped out of the water, he received the ultimate welcome home. Jesus was cooking breakfast! He had fish and bread waiting for His Disciples.
As much as the “last supper” had been tinted with anticipatory grief, this “first breakfast” was filled with the joy of reunion. As Jesus fed them the fish and bread, perhaps they remembered that “last supper” when Jesus gave them the bread and said, “I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom was indeed at hand that morning!
When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “These” could have referred to any number of things from the other disciples to the things of the world. Jesus was asking Peter if he would put Him first in his life.
Peter, with all the enthusiasm he had shown from the beginning, said, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Words are pretty, but love is not True Love if it does not compel us to act. Perhaps Peter remembered another time when Jesus had talked about love.
Anyone who loves Me will obey My Teaching.
My Father will love them
and We will come to them and make Our Home with them.
Again, Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter must have been wondering if Jesus did not hear him the first time. Or a more troubling thought. What if Jesus‘ repeated question was because He doubted Peter’s love for Him? Peter remembered in shame that his actions had not seemed like those of a friend … and certainly not a friend who loved Him. What could he ever do to show Jesus how much he loved Him? But Peter’s thoughts were interrupted by Jesus speaking again.
“Take care of My Sheep.”
Peter perhaps was a little puzzled. He honestly could not remember Jesus having any sheep or lambs. But Peter was still thinking in earth world terms.
The third time, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Now Peter was frankly hurt. He said, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love You!”
Jesus said, “Feed My Sheep!” Jesus then told Peter how much it would cost him to do what He was asking of him. It would cost him his very earthly life. It would involve giving up everything that was Simon in order to become Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to understand the cost and the benefits of the kind of Love Relationship Jesus wanted with him.
If you love Me, keep My Commands.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you
and be with you forever — the Spirit of Truth.
The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
A new command I give you; love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are My Disciples,
if you love one another.
(Oh, those sheep!)
Peter looked directly into Jesus‘ eyes and felt Love washing him of every sin. The old Simon who had hung his head in shame began to disappear. And it was Peter, who answered from his heart … I LOVE YOU!
Jesus said simply, “Follow Me!”
Did Simon change immediately? How we wish we could all have such a moment with Jesus from which we rise ready for the tasks at hand. But it does not work that way. Every moment of every day requires a new putting away of the old and a renewed taking on of the new.
Peter was eager at that moment, but not ready yet. Peter, who had been so immeshed with Jesus, became aware of John following them. Peter asked, “What about him?”
Jesus set Peter straight immediately by telling him if He chose for John to live forever, that should be none of Peter’s business. Jesus said, “You follow Me!”
I imagine Peter and Jesus walking down the beach into that new day with Jesus continuing to coach the captain of His Team. “Keep the team together, Peter. Stay awake! Stay focused! Be on guard! Obey Me! Love Me! I’m counting on you! Remember who you are in Me!”
Take a few moments and answer the questions Jesus asked Peter:
(Insert your name) What about you? Who do you say I am?
(Insert your name) Do you love Me?
If the answer is yes, tell Him with joy! And listen for what He wants you to do next to take His Love to the world!