Why did Jesus ask Peter three times: 'Do you love me?'

'The Storm on the Sea of Galilee' by Rembrandt, 1632(Wikipedia)

After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples and spent time with them. In one such account, we find Jesus and Peter talking to each other, having one of the most beautiful conversations in the New Testament – where Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him three times.

Why did Jesus ask Peter three times?

As we read their conversation in John 21:15-19, we can't help but wonder why the Lord needed to ask Peter the same thing three times. The Bible tells us that God knows the content of our hearts and the words we will speak before they even reach our lips (see Psalm 139:4), so why did Christ ask Peter again and again?

Some of us know that Christ reinstated Peter with that conversation. But if we look at certain Bible principles, we will understand that there are some things to learn from this conversation. Let's go over them.

The act of declaring right

Matthew 12:35-37 tells us that our words, even if carelessly spoken, reveal the content of our heart. Our words will either speak for us or against us.

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

The Lord Jesus knows this, and perhaps this is one reason why He wanted to ask Peter if he loved Him. Peter's denial of the Lord was an act he "wept bitterly" for in repentance (see Luke 22:54-62), and Jesus probably wanted to remind Peter to check his heart and never do it again. Peter was to stand strong for Christ no matter what persecution will come.

The act of declaring life

Proverbs 18:21 also tells us one of the most important principles to remember and apply in our lives:

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Christ wanted Peter to take back what he said. He denied Christ three times; he must undo it by declaring his love for Him three times as well.

We must be careful with the words we speak, for they become declarations that will either bring life to us, or harm us. Our words will be used to judge us in this life and in the day of judgment.

The act of declaring love for God

Lastly, it is important that we declare our love for Christ publicly. Our belief in Him, love for Him, and allegiance to Him is something we must never be ashamed of – for by confessing with our mouth that Christ is Lord and believing in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved (see Romans 10:9).

Friends, let us not be ashamed of God. Let us not be ashamed of His love for us (see Romans 1:16). Let us continually declare His goodness in our lives.

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