John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?
Peter was upset. Jesus asked him the same question three times. Three times he answered the Lord with affirmation. By this time there was no denying the Lord was whom He said He was.
Yet we find out much later that Peter denies the Lord…not once, not twice, but three times.
Jon Bloom over at desiringgod.org writes:
“Jesus accomplishes so much in this brief, but life-altering conversation. We watch him beautifully restore, commission, and prophesy over Peter. But we also see him expose Peter. Peter’s denials were real and horrible failures. Jesus repeating his question three times wasn’t merely to allow Peter to affirm his love for every denial. He was also probing deep into Peter’s soul, into the painful place of shame, and calling forth a love stronger than before, one that would endure the future opportunity for Peter to fulfill his pledge to lay his life down for Jesus (John 13:37). I think Peter’s grief after the third question is evidence that Jesus was hitting home (John 21:17). ”
If you are anything like Peter, I know I am, you’ve failed the Lord many times and in many ways. Every Christian does. It could be a lack of fellowship with the Father, a lack of willingness, a lack of compassion, a lack of action, etc… yet Jesus asks us the same question “Do you love me?” We can always, in our littlest of faith and our so little love say “Yes LORD! I do love you!”
Then it’s up to us to listen and take heed to what the Spirit says.