“And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.’ And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. The servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” Mark 14:66-72
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, 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 said to him a second time, ‘Simon, 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, 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 everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep… Follow me… You follow me!’” John 21:15-17,19b,22c
Jesus did know everything. He knew Peter well. He knew his earnestness, passion, and impetuous inclination to action and thoughtless words. He knew how Peter was driven by emotion, and wanted to please. And Jesus loved him as he was, always leading him to greater revelation and growth because He was committed to his maturity and sanctification. (Matthew 14:22-30; 16:21-23; 17:1-8; John 20:1-7)
Three questions were posed each time. The first were in the growing heat of crucifixion fires, where fear so permeated Peter that every statement was an accusing threat. The next were after Jesus’s resurrection, where reunited friendship warmed the gathering. Increasingly vehement denial and refusal became increasingly earnest profession and affirmation. Trust was betrayed, trust was being restored.
Jesus led Peter through three opportunities to undo and correct his vehement denials. He thrice let Peter confess his love, and replace denial with action. He tended to every detail, and in doing so, displayed His amazing love, mercy, and omniscience in all their glory.
Jesus knows us intimately, too, and cares about every detail of our weakness and sinful proclivities. He works to undo our tangle of wrong thinking, and cleanse the lies to which we acquiesce and errant motives we tolerate and allow to control our actions and reactions. He walks alongside during every failure to teach and guide and redeem.
Are there pet sins we coddle and hide? Bring them to Jesus! Are there words, habits, resentments, or jealousies we’ve let grow ugly and deep? Let Jesus pull, one by one, until they are extricated and gone forever.
Lord, cleanse every detail of my sin. May I may daily look in Your eyes and answer Your searching with “Yes.” And “I love You,” because I do.