Tending to Denials

I can relate to Peter’s denial of Jesus not once, but three times (Luke 22:54-62). I’ve had plenty of missed opportunities in my life—lost chances to go deeper with someone about my faith when they press me with questions. Fear kicks in and I become more concerned about myself and my ego than how I might minister to someone.

When I look back at my denials I want to weep. I am grateful for Gods love and grace. Yet there is more than forgiveness in how Jesus later addresses Peter’s denials when he appears to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-17). He doesn’t just tell Peter, “Hey, I forgive you for denying me.” Instead, Jesus instructs Peter on the purpose of loving him.

Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and each time Peter replies, “You know that I love you (NASB).” Understandably, Peter is hurt that Jesus keeps asking him (17), but it is the response Jesus gives to Peter that we should pay careful attention to. Each response Jesus gives to Peter telling him he loves Him relates to caring for His sheep:

“Tend my lambs (15).”

“Shepherd my sheep (16).”

“Tend my sheep (17).”

It’s not simply about us loving Jesus, it’s about how much we love Him. Do we love Jesus so much that we care for His lambs, his newer followers who need to be nurtured in the faith? Do we love Jesus enough that we shepherd His sheep, care for those who need us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Do we love Jesus enough that we tend His sheep, caring for the needs of His flock?

© 2023, Chris G Thelen


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