“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly 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 truly 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.”
This message is a reminder that we serve a God of multiple chances. This Scripture is about how Peter received healing and restoration from the guilt and shame that he felt from having let Jesus down just before His crucifixion. When Peter knew that he was forgiven and loved by Jesus, he received inner healing and was restored to fellowship with the Lord.
Jesus spent time in fellowship with His friends, eating and drinking, and when they had finished their meal he focused on Peter. Peter jumped into the ocean and swam to the shore as soon as he realized that it was Jesus who stood there because he loved the Lord. Shortly before the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, when Jesus predicted that all His friends would abandon Him in His hour of need, Simon Peter strongly asserted that he was ready to even die with Jesus (Luke 22:33 and John 13:37). However, when the pressure was on and Jesus was in the custody of the Jewish authorities, Peter denied three times that he knew the Lord. (Luke 22:56-60). Of course he regretted it many times, weeping and wishing he could have turned the clock back (Luke 22:62). He probably felt especially bad because he realized that Jesus knew about his denial, and because he abandoned His teacher and friend when he was needed most.
Dear friend, this message is from the heart of Abba to all His kids who are looking at the past and regretting something they did or did not do, or hurting about something someone else did to them or did not do. The past cannot be changed, but today is a new day, and God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
Although Peter was happy to see Jesus and fellowship with Him, his mind kept going back to that painful day, and he probably found it difficult to look Jesus in the eye. He may have dreaded the moment Jesus would address the issue. However, there were no accusations from Jesus. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He gave Peter an opportunity to bring closure to his regrets and self blame. He asked Peter the same question three times because each affirmation of his love was a negation of his denials. Those words of denial had haunted Peter, and the devil had probably brought them back time and again, every time he prayed or preached to someone. The enemy is quick to act on and fulfill negative words that are spoken, even ones we speak against ourselves. Jesus knew this. He wiped away the bitter memory of denial by giving Peter the chance to declare his love. According to Jewish culture and Old Testament practice something would be repeated three times to signify its permanence, and for emphasis, (for example, “Holy, holy, holy). Just as Peter had vehemently denied the Lord three times, he now had the opportunity to claim Him as His Lord and the love of His heart as many times. He was able to create a new record!
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. It is important to remember that God has given us the power of life in our tongues! I really believe that it is possible to halt a sickness, downgrade a storm or natural disaster, or stop death in its tracks by speaking words of life over our own self, the life of another, or even our environment. I just heard about a young pregnant woman in Mexico who had been dead in a morgue for 10 hours when she (and the baby) were raised up by the powerful and faith filled declarations of her pastor and other friends who were praying for her to be raised up. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give life and more abundantly. He has given every believer the same Isaiah 61 anointing to bring life to others, and one of the ways we can do this is by the positive Word of God declarations of our mouth.
Too many people have lived under the burden of word curses spoken over their lives when they were children by parents, siblings or teachers. (Examples of these are when someone is constantly called deprecatory names or told they would never amount to anything in life). Others have suffered for years with the verbal abuse of spouses or figures of spiritual authority, or even ‘friends’ who controlled their lives and believed the worst of them. Take hold of the power of life that God has given us in Proverbs 18:21. Perhaps you need to start by repenting for speaking evil words over your own life or the life of another. Or you may need to repent for believing the lie of the destructive words that were spoken over you. Begin to nullify the power of negative words by speaking the opposite - the positive life giving Word of God. Believe it, speak it in faith, and see the old things pass away as you truly move into being that new creation God wants you to be. It is never too late! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our Father does not see you through the murky lenses of human vision. He sees you as faithful, fruitful, righteous and pure. He sees you as His very precious child redeemed by the holy blood of Jesus, filled with His Spirit, and heaven bound.
Peter received inner healing firstly when he saw himself not through the eyes of guilt and condemnation, but through the eyes of Jesus, as a faithful and trusted much loved friend who loved His Lord.
Peter also received healing when he experienced the forgiveness of the Lord. Maybe it is time to forgive someone who hurt you in the distant or recent past. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for mistakes you made and also ask for the Father’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is so powerful and has even been the pathway to receiving physical, mental and spiritual healing for many people. Unforgiveness can be the root of some sicknesses and is also a hindrance in our relationship with God. You may have forgotten situations hidden in the past, but you could ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember anything that needs to be forgiven so that it will not be a hidden wound that festers in the dark, but is brought out into the open to receive the cleansing, freedom and healing which conscious forgiveness brings. It could be that you have been praying for the healing of a physical infirmity or the healing of a close relationship. Forgiveness may the essential ingredient necessary to see a breakthrough.
We will look further at this passage of Scripture next week, and the reasons why Jesus told Peter to take care of the sheep. In the meantime, let me leave you with the assurance that Jesus gave His life because He loves you and thinks you are so worth dying for! There is nothing we could ever do which would make Him stop loving us. He has already forgiven every sin and failing, but we have to receive His forgiveness in faith and live in His love and righteousness. We also have to wholeheartedly forgive and love ourselves! Jesus truly wants you to be healed inside and out. He wants you to release you from every shackle of the past. He wants you completely free!
Precious friend, the Lord is with you and has great plans for you. Let the past and words that have been spoken not affect the wonderful future that is waiting for you. Shed the heavy weight you have been carrying, forgive, and move on into all the good things that have been prepared for you. I will be praying for you!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 13 February 2012