15¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.Recently I was thinking about this incident and wondering why it seemed like the Savior wasn’t acknowledging that Peter loved Him.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
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? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:15-19)
I thought about how it has been said that this was a redo of Peter’s three denials of Christ, as if Peter is getting the chance to do it over and get it right this time. Then I thought about the peculiar prophecy Christ gives Peter afterward about how Peter would die. Why was that cheerful little bit of news given right then?
Finally I realized that prophecy WAS the reassurance that Christ knew Peter loved Him. It doesn’t sound reassuring because after all, it is a death prophecy, but consider this—at the last supper, Peter’s protestation that he would die for Jesus was the impetus of Christ’s previous prophecy that Peter would deny Him three times. But this time, after Peter repeats his love of Christ, Christ prophesies Peter’s death. It shows that Christ knew Peter really did love Him and would die for his love. It’s as if Christ says, “Yes, Peter, I know you love me because you are going to die feeding my sheep. You will die doing your duty.”
I think if the Lord told me I would die doing my duty, then that would be reassuring to me and give me confidence in the middle of personal trials.