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John 21:15-19 (NIV)
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 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. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
In John 13:36-38 Peter brashly declares that he can and will follow Jesus no matter what! But Jesus predicts that instead of following, Peter will deny him. When Jesus was on trial that is exactly what Peter does and now, sitting on the beach with Jesus, Peter must have that moment ringing in his ears. But Jesus calls him back into a new life and a new relationship. The old has been forgiven and the new life has begun. “Feed my sheep” Jesus says to this denier. Then he finishes by saying to Peter: “Follow me”. Something has radically changed. Because of the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of the cross Peter can now follow Jesus. Why? Because every time he falls, and he will, he knows he is already forgiven and he can keep on following… and so can we.