What a contrast there is between Peters three denials of Jesus before the crucifixion and his response to Jesus resurrected . In the first Peter is fearful for his own life, and his conviction in Christ still is in its infancy. Though he is on a learning curve he still stumbles, he does little to defend his Lord. I have to wonder if Peter had thought following this leader was possibly a mistake, his teachings were radical, he incited conflict, and the kingdom he talked about was vague at best. When all went well, and the crowds were on their side; Peter was the faithful disciple. When things did not go well, when they were challenged, Peter faltered. When things went from bad to horrific, Peter denied him.
After the crucifixion, Peter still had that option of denying Jesus. He had the option of outright rejecting him. In fact that was the Romans intended reason for the crucifixion of Jesus to extinguish this movement, to disband the disciples, to scatter the crowds. To put an end to this Jesus movement. What went wrong? Peter was not that convinced he was doing right before Jesus death, he did deny him when first challenged by the authorities. Shouldn’t it have been easy to keep him in his place after he witnessed the brutality he could face if he challenged the empire, or the establishment, or caused just a little trouble? What went wrong was Jesus did not die! That defeat of death is the power of the resurrection. The light of the resurrection enables Peter to see clearly.In that light when Jesus asks “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”–He can clearly respond, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus asks him this three times, the same number of times as Peters denial. Three times Peter confirms his belief, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Peters denial of Christ occurs at Jesus’s arrest and ends with the crucifixion, in darkness; yet through the resurrection Peter is not left in darkness. After each proclamation of “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” Peter is given a new life, a new challenge, a new mission; his life does not go back to as it was before. Peter is told “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.” Peter will still face the same challenges as before, the Roman empire still exists, the temple priests, scribes and Pharisees still exist. Persecution still exists, and so does a horrible death by crucifixion. In the light of the resurrection though, Peter can not go back to denial; Yes Lord is the only path he can follow. The Church is proof of that