John 21:16-20
John 21:16 (KJB)
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.
Feed - Shepherd
Then Jesus asks Peter again the same question. Do you love me? Peter answers in the same way and states that the Lord knows all things and that He knows that he loves Him. Then Jesus gives him a second command to feed His sheep. The phrase “Feed my sheep” is in the Imperative mood and present tense which means it is a command to continue to shepherd the sheep which are the true believers in Christ. This time Jesus leaves out the question concerning Peter’s devotion to others versus his devotion to Jesus.
John 21:17 (KJB)
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.
Grieved - Sorrowful or mournful
Feed - As in grazing or pasturing
Peter was probably perplexed and grieved at the same time why the Lord kept asking him the same question. He asked Peter for the third time if he loved Him. Peter answers the same way and tells Jesus that He knows that he loves Him. Maybe Jesus was trying to elicit a response from Peter like “Yes Lord I do love you” without Peter stating that Jesus knows he loves Him. Then Jesus issued the third mandate of feeding His sheep. Now because Peter was singled out to feed the Lord’s sheep, does not mean this was given to the catholic church and Peter was definitely not the first Pope. The principle Jesus is giving applies to all believers who mature in the faith. It is the responsibility of mature Christians to teach and train the next generation while serving their own as David did. (Acts 13:36 KJV) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
John 21:18 (KJB)
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.
Here Jesus is giving the details of the life of Peter. When he was young, he walked and went where he wanted to but there is going to come a day when you are old that someone else will determine that for you. Peter probably realized at this time that his devotion to the Lord was no greater than the other disciples and that may be what Jesus wanted to get through to Peter, that all are equal at the foot of the cross and Peter, like the other disciples, will face a similar fate for being faithful to the Lord. During the lifetime of Peter he would probably come to a fuller understanding of what the Lord was teaching him on the shore, especially concerning the three questions.
John 21:19 (KJB)
This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
In the previous verse Jesus was prophesying the way that Peter would die, which would be by crucifixion. Tradition states that Peter was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy enough to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus was. He then gives Peter the command to follow Him.
John 21:20 (KJB)
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter then turning to his humanity again, possibly to try and get the attention off of him. He then asks Jesus concerning John who was the one that leaned on Jesus’ breast at supper and had asked who is the one that betrays thee?