The Lord’s Gracious Work Of Restoration
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” John 21:15
When believers fall, they sometimes falsely think that their service, usefulness, and preciousness to God the Father are at an end. Thankfully, those who have received Christ by faith have become children in His family, and can never be severed from the divine love in Christ (John 1:12; Romans 8:38-39.) What is more, the risen Christ functions as our advocate in heaven, restoring us to fellowship after we repentantly confess our sins (1 John 1:8-2:2.) Furthermore, He is also the Christians’ Great High Priest in heaven and prays them safely home to His presence (Hebrews 7:23-25.) Based on these special offices of the Son of God, it is evident that the Lord specializes in the work of spiritual restoration.
Courage And Cowardice
On the night of Christ’s arrest, Peter demonstrated all-too-human manic behavior: ready to lop of the heads of Jesus’ adversaries one moment and then a little while later, denying that he knew the accused rabbi. One may do something impetuously – especially in the first flush of adrenaline – and then later do the opposite upon cool reflection. Peter loved the Lord and was a real believer, yet like all humans, he was unstable in and of himself. That is why people so desperately need the Savior to save and change them, while simultaneously helping them to stand. If we get our eyes off of Christ even for one moment, we are bound to sink – just like Peter’s earlier to attempt to walk with his Teacher on the Galilean waves (Matthew 14:29-30.)
Peter’s failure did not come as a surprise to the all-knowing, incarnate Son of God. Not only did the Lord Jesus predict Peter’s threefold denial (including the time of night when it would occur), He also foretold the humiliated disciples’ restoration and subsequent pastoral ministry to His brothers in the faith. In His words: “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32.)
From Fisherman To Fisher Of Men
In John 21 the Lord Jesus graciously gives Peter the opportunity to confess his love for the Master. Just as he denied Him three times, now he declares his love for Him three different times. Some have supposed a lessening of his ardor in Peter’s usage of a different Greek word for love (i.e. Phileo versus the Lord’s usage of agapao.) In light of the complex nuances of an ancient dead language like Koine, one should tread carefully and not jump to extreme conclusions.
The bottom line is that the disciple who denied the Lord three times, at Christ’s invitation now affirms his love for Him the same number of times. A few months later under the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly delivers one of the greatest sermons in Christian history (Acts 2:1-47.) His later apostolic career was not without mistakes (e.g. Galatians 2:11-16), but on balance, he ministered effectively as a shepherd to God’s people (see especially 1 & 2 Peter.) This marvelous restoration is certainly evidence of the Lord’s power, mercy, and grace at work in His people. The risen Christ restored Peter and used Him mightily; He can do the same for any Christian today who turns to Him for help.