After Jesus returns, He has breakfast with Simon Peter. He’s already seen the disciples two other times, but this time, He pulls Peter aside and asks him, “Do you love me?” Peter replies, “Yes.” But then He asks two more times. Do you think Peter knows what He’s getting at? Three times denied, three times returned. Trust broken, trust restored. Not for Jesus, but for Peter. Peter can say it once, and think he means it, but by the third time, he has to realize that he is being pushed, and if he doesn’t feel like pushing back, he doesn’t mean it. He pushes back, and means it. He has returned and been given a task – “Feed my sheep.” It’s hard when trust is broken, and when we’re the ones who have broken it, we have to work to get it back. It’s okay that it’s not easy. We have to know if we really want it.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17 (NAB)