The Lord’s Words to Peter

Text: John 21:15-23

In this passage, Jesus spoke directly to Peter about his responsibility and his future. Even though this was specifically given to this apostle, there are lessons for us to learn from it.

“Do You Love Me?”

  • Jesus asked this question three times in a row (John 21:15-17) – He was demanding a commitment, not just a flippant response from Peter
  • To love Jesus requires one’s obedience (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3) – words alone are not enough (1 John 3:18)
  • This paralleled Peter’s past action in denying the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75) – Peter had unfaithfulness in his past that he would have to overcome to serve Christ acceptably
  • Like Peter, we all have a past that includes acts of unfaithfulness (Ephesians 2:1-5) – yet everyone can still follow Christ (Ephesians 2:10)
  • As the Lord asked Peter, we must ask ourselves, “Do we love Christ?” – if so, we must obey Him

“Tend My Sheep”

  • Peter had a specific role – as an apostle (1 Peter 1:1; Mark 16:15; Ephesians 2:20); as a preacher (1 Corinthians 9:5,14; Romans 1:16); as an elder (1 Peter 5:1-2; Hebrews 13:17)
  • We may not occupy the same roles – no apostles today; not all will be preachers or elders
  • But there is an underlying principle that is applicable to us – we should strive to help others spiritually (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15)
  • This commitment would affect Peter’s family (1 Corinthians 9:4-5) – reminder of the importance of spousal support and likemindedness; though it is not a sin to marry a non-Christian, it is difficult when there are conflicting world views (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“When You Grow Old…”

  • Jesus was not talking to Peter about the difficulties of aging, but about the kind of death he would die (John 21:18-19) – Peter’s death was imminent when he wrote his second epistle (2 Peter 1:14)
  • Peter knew he was going to suffer and die for Christ, yet he followed Christ anyway – this takes a great deal of faith to do this (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-8)
  • Our future is uncertain – we know we will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12), but we don’t know to what degree
  • We must follow Christ no matter what might happen (Revelation 2:10)

“What Is That to You?”

  • After hearing how he would eventually die for Christ, Peter asked about John (John 21:20-21) – it is easy to get upset at some perceived unfairness, though John would endure suffering as well
  • Jesus told Peter not to worry about John – he just needed to focus on following Christ (John 21:22)
  • Don’t worry about how others have it “better” than you – money, health, family, persecution, etc.
  • Perception is often distorted – we focus on the good we see and not the suffering we don’t see
  • Make sure you’re serving the Lord, no matter your circumstances or those of anyone else


  • We do not have all the specific responsibilities that Peter had
  • But we can obey the same general command – “Follow Me” (Luke 9:23; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 2:20)

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