Changing the Story

Updated: May 9, 2020

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. – John 21:12-17 (NKJV)

I love a good camp breakfast! When my kids were little we did a lot of tent camping at the lake and, although it took a great amount of time and effort, those breakfasts cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire were always so delicious, so worth the wait. We had bacon and sausage, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs and some kind of sweet bread we made at home. But no fish. Never did we have fish for breakfast.

But the disciples did. This past Monday I wrote about how Jesus appeared to the disciples early one morning as they were coming in from a night of fishing. This was his third appearance to them after his resurrection. If you didn’t read it, I encourage you to go back and do so. It’s titled, “Put Your Clothes on, Peter!”

But now, Peter and the other disciples have hauled in the large amount of fish Jesus miraculously had them catch in their nets and Jesus is waiting for them up on the beach with a charcoal fire going and breakfast cooking. He has fish and bread ready for these hungry men. Jesus has come to show himself to his friends, to offer them hospitality right there on the beach, to hang out with them like old times, to show them that he really is alive, and yes, he can eat with them. He is not a ghost.

We remember the story of Peter and how, just before Jesus was arrested and condemned to die, Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus. He loved Jesus and was bold and spontaneous in his actions and words. He was sure there was nothing that could cause him to turn away from Jesus. But Jesus looked at him, probably with a mixture of love and sadness and told Peter that before the cock crowed three times, that very night, Peter would, indeed, deny Jesus. And that is exactly what happened. Can you imagine how low Peter felt; how much grief and shame he felt as Jesus went to his death?

One thing we can learn from that story is that we should never hold ourselves in such high esteem, never get so cocky, that we think we cannot fall. I think so often, when we get so sure of ourselves, when we think we can rely on our own strength, that is when we are caught by surprise and, down we go. It’s that old adage, “Never say never.” We are all human and we are all prone to falling. Or, to put it bluntly – sinning. Our strength comes from the Lord.

Probably most of us are familiar with that feeling of failing, of letting someone down, of being sorrowful and ashamed, but can you imagine how Peter felt? Jesus died a cruel death and, as much as Jesus told them he would rise from the dead, surely Peter felt he would never have the opportunity to redeem himself, to ever say, I’m sorry, give me another chance. Forgive me.

I think this third appearance of the resurrected Lord is especially for Peter. Peter can’t redeem himself but Jesus can, and does, redeem him. He changes the end of the story. He asks Peter, three times, “Peter do you love me?” and Peter answers, “Lord, you know I love you.”

And three times Jesus replies, “Then feed my sheep. Tend my lambs.”

Remember how, when Jesus met Peter, he said his name is now Cephas, which means Rock? And how Jesus told Cephas that on this Rock (Peter) Jesus would build his church? (John 1:42)

Peter did go on to establish the Church and many people came to know and believe in Jesus as the Savior, many people found salvation through Christ the Lord. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd and Peter followed Jesus’ command to feed the Shepherd’s sheep.

Jesus changed Peter’s story, and we could call this, “The Rest of the Story,” but it certainly is not all of the story. Not yet. Because this story includes us; we are also part of the flock. We continue to be fed by the Church that Peter, through Christ, established. And we are also part of offering the food of the Gospel to other sheep. The story goes on and on.

Jesus asks us too, “Do you love me?” And when we answer “yes, Lord,” the story continues.

Peace and Grace to You!


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