After what had been a frustrating night, the morning was turning out to be perfect. They had gone fishing and had caught nothing all night. But then, as day was breaking, a Man on the shore tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and BAM! All of a sudden the net is so full they can barely haul it in. But more than the realization of a bounty from the sea there was the realization of who spoke to them from the seashore. “It is the Lord!”
And Peter is excited to see Jesus and can’t wait to be with Jesus. And so, true to Peter’s nature, rather than get to shore the conventional way, as in, by boat, he “threw himself into the sea.” Soon, the dripping Peter, and the others are with Jesus around a fire having a breakfast prepared at the Master’s hand. It starts off to be a most excellent day.
And then, the conversation. Something I don’t think Peter saw coming at all. And what a great way to spoil an idyllic moment.
It begins with Jesus asking a simple, yet profound and probing question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” No brainer for Peter, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” And, had it finished there, it might have been the perfect ending to a perfect morning. But the conversation doesn’t end there.
Again, Jesus asks the same question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Again Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And then, the third time. Yet again Jesus asks the same question. And now Peter is grieved.
A cloud comes over the sunny morning. The food in his stomach turns over again and again. He chest becomes heavy, his voice softer and less confident. He may not have been sure what the Lord was driving towards, but it cast over him an uneasy sorrow. But again, though perhaps more humble than before, Peter repeats what he believes to be the honest expression of his heart,
. . . and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” (John 21:17b ESV)
Lord, You know everything.
The thrice repeated questioning of the Lord brought back a similar thrice-repeated questioning of just a few days ago when Peter was asked three times by random people if he was one of Jesus’s disciples. And each time, one, two, three times, he denied he even knew Jesus. And now, Jesus allows Peter to thrice-pledge his love for Jesus.
But the weight of his pledge lies not in his words but in that the Lord knows everything. While Jesus knew everything about Peter’s failure and denial, He knew too the earnestness and sincerity of Peter’s confession of adoration for the risen Christ.
Humbly, and somewhat confused by the repeated questioning, Peter stands before Jesus and acknowledges Him as the omniscient God. With contrition, and yet a confidence, he appeals to the One who operates in the secret places . . . the One who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. And before Him Peter says, “You know that I love You. . . . Because You know everything.”
Sometimes, that’s our only appeal. When words seem to sound shallow. When our confidence in our motives is shaken by the voice of the accuser. When the weakness of our flesh fails the desire of our hearts. At those times, when we’re not sure what more can be said, we can say, “Lord, You know everything.”
And He does.
With abounding grace . . . for His eternal glory.