Shed Your Shame: Embrace God’s Redeeming Love

follow meThe Bible is boring!

I’m ashamed to admit that’s what I thought until I learned how to read it. I ask a lot of questions. I ponder possible messages. I wonder about a character’s thoughts, emotions, and motivation. I try to relate to these real people.

The Bible is not an instruction book for good living. God reveals Himself to us through His written Word. Every story tells us something about God.

That said, let’s continue our series looking at Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances (Click on the links at the end of this post to catch prior appearances). Continuing in John 21, Jesus and Peter split away from the other fishermen after a meal of freshly grilled fish. We find out later that John follows the pair and is probably eavesdropping (John 21:20).

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep… Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21:15-19

The subtitle in my study Bible, Jesus Reinstates Peter, directs me to notice Jesus’ three questions which match Peter’s three-fold denial. That’s a good interpretation, but let’s dig deeper.

Two notes: First, Peter offers no apology or excuses that the text reveals. He simply settles back at home doing what he knows best. He’s fishing exactly where Jesus called him into discipleship.

Second, most translations don’t reveal the different types of love Jesus and Peter discuss. Jesus uses agape love while Peter answers with phileo love. Agape love involves the entire personality, including the will. Phileo is more emotional affection or fondness. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, has phileo as its root.

This walk along the beach is Peter’s third encounter with the resurrected Jesus but his first private moment.

How do you think Peter feels in this conversation?

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

It’s significant that Jesus calls Peter ‘Simon son of John’. Jesus hasn’t called him Simon since he changed his name to Cephas (which translates to Peter) and means rock (John 1:42). Furthermore, Jesus calls him Simon son of John, identifying him with his family.

Jesus gently confronts Peter for resuming his old life and calls him to return.

My paraphrase says, “You’re giving up and settling back into your old life? Then you are Simon son of John again. Unless… Tell me you love me with your entire being. Tell me you love me more than this fishing business.”

Stand in Peter’s sandals: How do you feel in this conversation?

My internal dialog answers, “Lord, you know my heart. You know I failed the test. I thought I loved you with everything, but my love wasn’t strong enough when it became risky. My love is brotherly love. You know all things, Lord. I’m not worthy to be your disciple.” In my opinion, Peter shrinks with shame. Can you relate? I can!

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs… Take care of my sheep… Feed my sheep.”

Jesus removes the fisherman’s shame and calls him to an entirely new life shepherding God’s church. “Simon son of John, come back. I know you love me. Feed my sheep. Be my rock. Love me enough to leave everything you know to do something for which you have no experience or qualifications. Follow me! Trust me! I know you love me. Leave everything like you did 3 years ago (Mt 4:18-20) and lead my church.” (my paraphrase)

As the subtitle suggests, Jesus reinstates Peter.

What does God tell us about Himself?

• He is the God of second (and third) chances. Forgiveness!
• He uses us even after we reject Him. Forgiveness!
• He calls us out of our feelings of unworthiness and back into His love.
• He removes our shame.
• He gives unqualified, imperfect people a mighty purpose in His Kingdom.

It’s your turn. Take a moment:

• Identify a time when you fell short or denied your faith, like Peter.
• Remind yourself of God’s forgiveness and love.
• Ask God to remove feelings of unworthiness or shame.
• Listen for His call to action.

Try these study tools:

• I used the interlinear tool at to detect the original words agape and phileo and their meanings.
• I searched for the names of Peter, Cephas, Simon Peter, and Simon son of John to discover the names Jesus uses for his disciples.

  1. Catch up on previous appearances by the resurrected Jesus: first to the women outside the empty tomb, to his disciples, to Thomas, and to the fishing disciples.

#SeedsofScripture #biblelesson #scripturestudy #readthebiblebetter #redletterwords #feedmysheep


  1. J.D. Wininger on June 8, 2023 at 6:42 AM

    Some great insights here Ms .Cathy. I especially appreciated the way you shared the questions you asked yourself in studying this passage. It shows us how we might begin applying that same practice. I wonder, what questions did God’s Word ask you as you read this Scripture?

    • CathyChung on June 8, 2023 at 9:20 AM

      Ah J.D. great question! What does the scripture say to me? Don’t let shame keep you from God’s grace and love. I carried shame around for YEARS thinking I was unworthy of God’s love, wondering if He could ever love me. I accepted His forgiveness years ago and felt the weight lifted. The story reminds me that when (yes, when, not if) I feel shame again, that God still loves me and will still use me for His purposes.
      You make me better, Mr.JD.

  2. Barbara Latta on June 9, 2023 at 5:58 PM

    I am glad this account was recorded in Scripure because it shows us we can all have hope and freedom from guilt and condemnation when we fall away from God’s love. Thanks for sharing this, Cathy.

    • CathyChung on July 6, 2023 at 9:29 AM

      He if faithful to forgive again and again. It’s up to me to make the turn in His direction.

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