Everybody is asked questions. It happens all the time. Can I help you? How are you? What would you like for supper? Let’s face it, we ask them ourselves. It’s a natural part of conversation and discovering more about our companions, our circumstances and our world.
But it can be a little surprising when we are asked a question – how are you – for example, and then moments later the enquirer asks the same question again. How are you? Perhaps they didn’t hear the answer. Maybe they didn’t like the answer and are just repeating the question to make sure they understand what you mean. Patiently (or not) we repeat our answer.
So how do we respond when, once again, not moments later, they ask the same question? Are we irritated? Do we start wondering if they are well? Perhaps they are ‘losing it’ as we say these days.
Or could we, perhaps, stop what we are doing a look at them, checking them out, reading their body language, the look in their eyes. What are they really asking us?
Jesus asked Peter a question three times. ‘Do you love Me?’ And three times Peter gave the same answer, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Why did Jesus repeat His question? Peter had denied him three times a few days early when he refused to acknowledge that he knew Jesus after Jesus’ arrest. Was it, perhaps, because Jesus need reassurance to hear that Peter loved Him? That’s not likely. So why the triple question? Was it perhaps Peter who needed to hear both question and answer three times?
Peter felt guilty. He, of all people, had denied Jesus – and just after he had insisted he would never do such a thing but would die with him. Matthew tells us that he left the courtyard and wept bitterly.
Did Peter need to hear himself say three times ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you?’ Did Peter himself need reassurance of his own love for Jesus?
But then there is more to the conversation. For Jesus does not leave it there. In John’s account of the breakfast on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection He gives Peter the same message in three different ways:
‘Feed My lambs’ (John 21:15)
‘Take care of My sheep’ (John 21:16)
‘Feed My sheep’ (John 21:17)
Jesus wanted to make sure Peter got the message. Peter may have been feeling guilty, but Jesus had work for him to do. It was as if He was saying, “Come on, Peter, put all that behind you. You have work to do for Me.” And He sealed the deal by saying the words He had said to Peter, right at the very beginning when they first met:
‘Follow Me!’ (John 21:19)
And Peter did – and on that rock, Jesus truly built His church.
Sometimes we wish Jesus would put a banner across the sky so we know what He is saying to us. Sometimes we think we cannot be good enough for Jesus to ask us to do anything for Him. Sometimes we just don’t listen.
What is making you feel uncomfortable at the moment? Could it be that Jesus is repeatedly asking you a question? What could that question be? Perhaps it is merely this:
“Do you love Me?”
How will you answer today?
Some Scriptures to ponder:
John 21: 15-19 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.’ … Then He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’
Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stopped saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come’