He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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 all things; You know that I love You.”
[John 21:17 NKJV]
Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?”; and Peter, on this third time of asking, seems a little bit irked. “Why are you asking when you know it already?” Peter’s reaction here is the very human one of impatience.
I have pondered over these verses at the end of John’s gospel many times and have glimpsed different aspects of what Jesus’ message each time. Sometimes this has been superficial and occasionally profound, but always uplifting. However, I believe that His basic message is “If you truly love Me — not just as a friend or brother — but as The Christ, then you will also love those who are mine, and care for them as I do.”
Did Peter do that? The Book of Acts claims that He did. Jesus repeated asking drives the point home to Peter, that his commitment to his Lord must be complete and unwavering.
When Peter says “Lord, You know all things”; this is precisely what Jesus was saying. “Peter, I know you completely — that is why I ask you again.” Our Lord knows us inside out; His Holy Spirit is indwelling; He knows us better than we know ourselves, which is why He keeps asking us, guiding us, caring for us, loving us with His one question: “Do you love me?” “Am I yours exactly as you are Mine?”
The very life of Jesus is given to us unstintedly if we will identify ourselves with His Death. At the back of us stands the Risen Life of Jesus that nothing can overcome.