Do you love me? 

With each repeated question, Peter’s eyes swell with tears and his voice trembles.   After proudly announcing at the Last Supper that he would lay down his life for Jesus, he is now ashamed at having denied him three times.   He also wonders why Jesus keeps asking the same question.   Is he just increasing the suspense until he delivers a stinging rebuke?

Somber yet full of compassion, Jesus doesn’t scold Peter.   He doesn’t bring up Peter’s denial at all.   Instead, he gives him the space he needs to confirm to Jesus—and, more important, to himself—that he really does love the Lord.

So Jesus forgives and encourages Peter as he had done many times before.   After so many mistakes, Peter probably expected Jesus to write him off this time.   But he didn’t.   Peter’s past sins and weaknesses were simply not enough for Jesus to stop loving him and caring for him.

Like Peter, we can think that because we have fallen short in the past, Jesus is no longer interested in our friendship.   But that’s just not true!   Jesus hasn’t moved on, leaving us with nothing but memories of his love.   His heart continues to be wide open and full of forgiveness.   He is standing before us asking us if we can still open our hearts to him.   Can we move past shame and confess that no matter what we have done, there’s still a love for Jesus in our hearts?

What’s keeping you from having a heart-to-heart encounter with Jesus today?   Regret?   Shame?   Fear?   Everyday embarrassment?   Whatever it is, let him into that part of your heart and tell him what you’re feeling and why.   Don’t worry about his reaction;  he has already decided to forgive you.   His love always precedes his forgiveness.   Just remember how he chose to reveal himself to Peter and even fed him a hearty breakfast before their pivotal discussion.   He loves to care for you, in every way.

It’s your turn now.   Go ahead and talk with Jesus.   Tell him how much you love him.   Let the barriers fall away and receive his mercy.   Again.

Word Among Us