Do You Love Me?

Scott Stevenson

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?"  He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."  John 21:17

After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appears to the disciples for the third time, but this time to reinstate Peter.  As I look at Peter’s restoration, I think about not only God’s grace, but what it means to truly repent.  In Peter’s situation, I noticed that Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me”; ironically,  Peter also denied the Lord three times. 


Why did asking for the third time break Peter down?

The majority of the time we have to be dismantled completely in order to be rebuilt properly.  That’s exactly what Jesus did with Peter.  My problem, I don’t want to stand still long enough to get completely dismantled.  To Peter’s credit, he stood there and allowed the Lord to break him down. 

The third time Jesus asked Peter, he was grieved…it was the third time that did the trick.  At that moment, Peter knew the gig was up and the false pretense would no longer work in the face of God’s holiness. 

The meaning of the word grieved is similar to Isaiah’s vision of God’s glory and he said:

"Woe to me!" I cried.  "I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."  Isaiah 6:5

Jesus wanted true repentance, grief about his sin, “Woe to me!” Grief about sin changes the heart.  Read 1 Peter and you tell me if Peter was the same after their conversation.  Peter had to make real change in order to be prepared for the difficult work that lies ahead. 

We have a chance every day to have such conversations with God, but we chose not to open his Word.  We need the heart-to-heart conversations the Bible provides in order to handle the trails of life.  You can’t be marginal when life gets hard; you’re going to break either bad or good when the trials come.  God knew this so He took Peter to task in order for him to accomplish God’s work.


1.) Are you willing to let the Lord do the hard things with you? (Dismantle you)

2.) Do you feel grief when you sin against God?

I think we misinterpret words sometimes and twist them into perceived definitions that fit our own personal taste (sinful nature).  I’m not interested in comforting myself at the moment; I want to know the truth so that I can be dismantled like Peter.  I want to see genuine change in my life!  Do you? 

The following definition helped me to really understand what true repentance means:

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.  Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.

In other words, being sorry over your sin is not enough.  Some folks are sorry because they got caught or a consequence came as a result of sin.  God is not interested in that type of sorrowfulness.  He wants repentance along with the action…repenting of sin or turning away from sin! 

Faith and repentance are opposite sides of the same coin; you need both to experience actual change.  The type of faith the Lord wants is your trust.  I have to decide if I love God more than my sin.  I hear the conversation with Peter again...“Do you love me?”. 

What happened with Peter after this serious conversation with Jesus?  Read the first paragraph of 1 Peter and you tell me if the conversation had an effect.  Peter went on to accomplish everything Jesus asked of him.   Peter faced death with honor knowing he was going to die beforehand.  That’s the kind of change God is looking for. 

The kind of change that would enable Peter to say this:  
"So that the genuineness of your faith, more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  I Peter 1:7

I know this type of change may be daunting, but keep this in mind Jesus’ conversation with Peter…

“Do you love me?”


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