Last night was the last meeting of my church's Bible study group, for the time being. We finished A Fragile Stone, Peter: Jesus' Friend, with Michael Card.
I have two thoughts:
In John 21, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. When
Peter replies in the affirmative, Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep. Michael
Card does not believe that Jesus in this passage was rebuking Peter for
having denied Jesus three times. Card argues that Jesus had already
dealt with Peter's denial in a previous post-resurrection appearance.
One reason that Card thinks this is that Luke 24:34 and I Corinthians
15:5 present a special appearance by Jesus to Peter, which occurred soon
after Jesus' resurrection. For Card, Jesus at that time addressed
Peter's denials, presumably by reassuring and forgiving Peter, and this
occurred before the events of John 21. Second, Peter in John 21 rushes
from his boat when he sees that Jesus is ashore, and Card seems to doubt
that Peter would have been that enthusiastic to meet Jesus if Peter
still felt ashamed on account of having denied Jesus three times. In
Card's opinion, Peter's bad feelings about having betrayed Jesus had
been dealt with in an earlier encounter Peter had with the risen Christ.
the same time, Card still appears to maintain that Peter had some
lingering bad feelings, which was why Christ was encouraging Peter in
John 21. What I got out of the study was that Jesus was giving Peter a
pep-talk, if you will. "Do you love me? Yes? Then go forward and feed
my sheep!" (my paraphrase). Peter thought that he had let
Jesus down and thus was hesitant to proceed with the work that God
wanted him to do, and so Jesus was encouraging Peter to feed his sheep,
while giving Peter an opportunity to affirm his own love for Jesus.
myself think that John 21 had something to do with Peter's three-fold
denial of Jesus. I'm rather hesitant to juxtapose John, Luke, and I
Corinthians and to conclude that there was an appearance by Jesus to
Peter prior to the events of John 21 (and yet, John 21:14 says that the
risen Jesus appeared to the disciples two times before), but, putting
that aside, it seems to me that Jesus in John 21 is recalling Peter's
denials: there is the fire of coals in John 21:9, which may recall the
fire of coals on which Peter was warming himself around the time that he
denied Jesus (John 18:18); Jesus asked Peter three times in John 21 if
Peter loved him, and Peter denied Jesus three times (John 13:38). But
I don't think that Jesus in John 21 was rebuking Peter or rubbing
Peter's denial in Peter's face. Rather, in my opinion, the goal was
I recall a sermon
in which someone said that Jesus in John 21 was turning Peter's bad
memory into a good memory. Peter had a bad memory----he had denied
Jesus three times. Peter would probably look at a fire of coals and
think back to the night that he denied Jesus. But Jesus in John
21 was taking elements of that bad memory----the fire of coals, the
number three----and was using them in a setting in which Jesus showed
Peter grace and gave him a commission. Things that were associated with
Peter's disgrace became associated with Peter's redemption and
commission by God. Even if Peter and Jesus had talked about Peter's
denial prior to John 21, Peter was probably still unsettled about having
denied Jesus, and so he needed that extra encouragement from Jesus.
I appreciated some things that a lady in the group said about the
Bible. One of the questions was whether Jesus in John 21 was rebuking
Peter for the denials or was encouraging Peter, and the lady responded
that the aim of the Bible is to encourage. She also said that, if we
were perfect, then we wouldn't need the Bible. I myself can think of
plenty of things in the Bible that discourage me. And yet, I
agree with the lady in the group that the very existence of the
Bible----and I'd add any wisdom in the world----attests to our
imperfection and need for guidance. That being the case, I don't feel
as bad about being imperfect!
Next week, I'll talk about the group's discussion about what we will study next!
"We need a third party!"
21 minutes ago