After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to many individuals and groups, including an interaction with the disciple Peter, who had just a few days earlier denied ever knowing Jesus.
When properly translated from the original language, the conversation starts with Jesus asking, “Peter, do you love me unconditionally?” Peter couldn’t bring himself to say “Yes,” so he sidestepped the question and replied, “Lord, you know I love you like a brother.”
Many preachers say Peter’s answer was a cop out. I, however, think it was right on.
I ask myself what type of love I have for God. Do I love Him only when things are going well, or do I love Him unconditionally, no matter what life brings? There’s no way to know until the time comes. Strange as it seems, following God provides opportunities to find out, through situations that put me at a crossroads. One fork is the path of trust and unconditional love for God. The other fork is that of confusion, questioning, anger, and maybe even – like Peter – denial. Sometimes I’ve gone one way, and sometimes another.
Jesus didn’t scold Peter as the preachers do. Instead, Jesus showed acceptance by giving His friend a great mission: “Feed my lambs.” That’s the way Jesus is. He meets me where I am and places value on me anyway.
Years later, Peter himself was crucified, upside down in fact, for his faith. Although too honest to thump his chest and assert his own abilities, Peter found grace to show unconditional love at the decisive moment. I trust I’ll find that grace when I need it, too.