As we come to the conclusion of John, we see this final dramatic account between Jesus and Peter. In this final episode, Jesus addresses Peter’s denials. He does so not to shame Peter, but to free Peter. It’s in this that we see Jesus’ intent to restore as well as His intent to commission. Jesus restores us to send us out as we follow Him.
1. The Restorative Work of Jesus in Us: v. 15-17
It’s Jesus’ love for Peter that prompts Him to address Peter’s failure. He isn’t trying to tear Peter apart. In fact, it’s the opposite; He’s looking to put Peter back together. Jesus will do the same in our lives if we allow Him to. Jesus’ approach to this seems very deliberate and intentional. He has set up the charcoal fire and questions Peter about his relationship to Jesus. This is similar to the setting where Peter denied Jesus three times. But Jesus is looking to bring about a radically different result. He wants to reveal Peter’s pride, presumption and self-reliance and replace that with humility, mercy and honesty. So He asks Peter about his love for Jesus. He asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him. Confronted with his failure, Peter is grieved as he is reminded of his denial of Jesus. But Jesus is doing this to replace Peter’s three-fold denial with a three-fold profession of love!
As you consider what Jesus has done for Peter, I would ask you: Do you have items in your life that still plague or haunt you? Do you have items in your life that you avoid or ignore because the embarrassment is so strong and the shame is so deep? What in your life is Jesus lovingly coming to you with today and inviting you into restoration and wholeness? In the same way that He graciously restores Peter, He offers to restore you and I as well? Will you let Him do that?
2. The Missional Work of Jesus For Us: v. 18-23
In the second half of this account, Jesus moves from restoration to commission. Jesus has reinstated Peter and now has work for him to do. But in this exchange, Jesus makes clear two elements to Peter. The first is that we are to be concerned with following Jesus. That is to be our focus as well. We are concerned with following Jesus. We see that following, requires surrender. Following brings with it suffering. Following implies that we have to make a decision. But we focus our attention on following.
This is held in stark contrast to us not being troubled by others’ mission. Jesus makes a clear delineation between what life will look like for John versus Peter. In short, Jesus is saying, “don’t worry about what I choose to do with someone else, worry about what I have for you…which is to follow me!” We each have a specific role to fill in the kingdom of God. Our roles will not be identical to one another and we should celebrate, not begrudge others’ roles. Here’s what this means: You don’t have to worry about the things that God doesn’t have for you, simply be concerned for the things that God does have for you.