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


Have you ever done something you feel so ashamed of you couldn’t let the feeling of guilt go? No matter how you tried, that ugly feeling stuck. Peter must have felt like that when he denied knowing Jesus three times before his execution, especially when he had previously assured Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37)

When Peter realized what he’d done he “wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) I can imagine how very badly he must have felt!

When the disciples met with Jesus at breakfast after his resurrection, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

That question brings back memories for me. Being far too insecure for my age, I sometimes asked people who were important to me. “Do you love me?” I needed that reassurance. I needed to know I was loved! When I look back, I’m embarrassed.

I’m sure Jesus wasn’t insecure when he asked this of Peter. But I do think he needed to hear Peter’s answer – his commitment to love and to serve. He did not only ask once, he asked three times: “Do you love me?”


I believe that Jesus was subtly helping Peter retrace the three times he had disowned him. Step by step Jesus led Peter through remembering his shame, gradually allowing for healing and restoration.

He asked Peter to feed his lambs, to take care of his sheep, to feed his sheep – revealing the role he was giving him as leader of the new Church.

And now I wonder…

If we’re feeling guilty about something we did wrong, might Jesus ask us too, “Do you love me?” And if we were to say “Yes Lord, I do. You know I do,” – might he ask us to serve him in some way as well? Could we  commit to him too, and find healing, the way Peter did?