“Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends, one of only three that were invited into his innermost circle. In Gethsemane, at his hour of greatest need, Jesus again took Peter aside, poured his heart out to him; he looked to Peter for strength. Three years of this, and who knows how many other stories. Peter must have known, I have a special place in Jesus’ heart. So, how do you suppose Peter felt after he denied Christ—not just once, but three times? It must have been devastating.
After the resurrection, Jesus is on the beach with Peter and the others. It’s a touching reunion. Following a night of lousy fishing, Christ yells out to the guys to let their nets down for a catch—just as he did that morning he first called them three years earlier. Again, their nets are bursting with the load. Just like the good old days. Peter leaps from the boat and swims to Christ. They have breakfast together. Reunited, laughing about the catch, relaxed, warmed by the fire and stuffed from breakfast, Jesus then turns to Peter.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
What a beautiful story. Notice first that Christ does not let Peter sweep the whole matter under the rug. If this issue doesn’t get addressed, it will haunt the old fisherman for the rest of his life. No, this must be spoken to. Most of us simply try and “put things behind us,” get past it, forget the pain as quickly as we can. Really—denial is a favorite method of coping. But not with Jesus. He wants truth in the inmost being, and to get it there he’s got to take us into our inmost being. One way he’ll do this is by bringing up an old memory. You’ll be driving down the road and suddenly remember something from your childhood. Or maybe you’ll have a dream about a long-forgotten person, or event, or place. However he brings it up, go with him there. He has something to say to you.” John Eldredge Waking the Dead