“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’” (John 21:15).

While asking Peter three times if he loved him might have been a painful reminder of his three-fold denial, I believe the Lord was seeking not to be hurtful but was, instead, doing something very pastoral, theological, and psychological. Instead of Peter being continually haunted by his past failure, and the thrice-stated denial, “I don’t know the man,” Jesus’ greater concern is for the future role of Peter in the life of the church and God’s redemptive purposes for the world. It is a work done on the backs of those who continually fail, but are driven forward none the less by the truth etched into their mind — “You know that I love you, Lord.”

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