Beginning New in Grace


In this powerful exchange, Jesus touches the open wound of Peter’s three denials of him. Whether Peter was dreading this moment with Jesus, or longing for it, we are not told. Jesus had given him a name meaning rock, and in the wake of his failure, he likely felt like a tiny pebble or grain of sand. Jesus knows failure plays with our emotions making us feel worthless and ashamed, so he seeks out Peter to offer words of forgiveness and restoration. Even though we sometimes fall back in failure, Jesus will keep seeking us out to remind us we are accepted right where we are, failures and all, even as he gently calls us to grow more and come farther along on the journey of discipleship. Grace always means new beginnings, notice how Jesus returns to the start, calling Peter to once again ‘Follow me!’

John 21:15-25

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.”

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.”

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. 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.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Watch This Week’s Sermon: Campfire Confessional