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Examine Scripture

Peter’s Redemption

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John 21:15-19…

On the Third Sunday of Easter, from the Gospel of St. John, we read about Peter’s Redemption:

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 the 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. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”  -John 21:15-19, NAB

During the Passion narrative, we hear about Peter’s denial of Christ three times.  It is one of the most tragic parts of the story.  When Jesus needed His closest followers the most, including Peter, they abandoned Him.

Today’s verse from St. John’s Gospel reverses that denial.  Peter had denied Jesus three times, and now, Jesus asked him , “Do you love me?” three times.  Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to redeem himself and reminding him of what Jesus had called him to do.

Looking back to Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  This was Christ calling Peter to lead the Church, but since Jesus’ death, Peter was not leading anything.  Like the other disciples, he had locked himself up in the upper room in fear.

Peter must have been ashamed of himself for denying Christ.  Jesus had called him to lead the Church, but when given the opportunity to stand up for his Lord, he cowered in fear.  By challenging Peter in today’s verse, Jesus was trying to help Peter let go of the shame and begin leading the Church as he had been called to do.

Peter made mistakes, yet he is still known as one of the most important Christians the Church has ever known.  Take comfort, then, in your mistakes.  Even if you have denied Christ many times, Jesus still wants you to come home, still wants you to share the faith, still wants you to lead others to Him.

Peter’s redemption should give us hope for our own lives.  Peter had denied Christ three times, but Jesus later gave him the chance to love Him three times.  Christ offers that same opportunity to us.  Regardless of our past mistakes, Jesus will always accept us with open arms.

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