Growing up with several siblings can make you feel like you have fallen through the cracks. This creates in you a desire to be special, a favorite of somebody’s, anybody’s. Thus, began the life pursuit of trying to be somebody’s favorite whatever. I tried it on as a favorite child, a favorite friend, a favorite singer. I even used to want to be one of God’s favorites. But, Praise God, He doesn’t have any favorites, and that is where healing from this malady began. I picked up on what may have been a similar struggle in the Apostle Peter’s life.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.(John 21:15-17)
This is a precious passage where I believe Jesus is restoring Peter from the three denials he committed, as Jesus stood being questioned before His death (John 18:25-27). By asking Peter if he loved him three times, Peter was able to be restored by saying three times. “Yes, Lord, I love you.” But I believe there is more going on here than just restoration.
The first time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him has an extra phrase, “more than these.” Peter was a natural leader, which is seen as you watch him in several passages of Scripture, which I cannot expand on now. But one obvious indication of his leadership call, is prophesied by Jesus Himself.
And Jesus said to him,
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.(Matthew 16:17-19)
Now perhaps I am taking liberties here but bear with me. Peter perhaps thought he must be a favorite of Jesus by being called the Rock and building the church on that rock. Perhaps we have thought more highly of ourselves through a similar call or position God has put us in.
I believe the fall of Peter, through the denial of Jesus, was something Jesus used to help Peter realize that God has no favorites. “Do you love me more than these?” is a question that God has shown me I was unconsciously asking and believing for quite a long time. I longed to be somebody’s favorite, so I tried to be God’s.
But the true freedom is found in belonging to a God who has no favorites in His Kingdom at all. He just has Beloveds. He loves us all equally, completely, perfectly. Perhaps God is having to show you that He has no favorites, just beloveds. He showed me through the same kind of fall that Peter went through. I was knocked off my high horse like the Apostle Paul in Acts 9. But it was the love of God that knocked me off that horse, and it was the love of God that left me in a suffering situation longer than I would have liked. It was the Love of God that told me I was not a favorite of His because He has none. I don’t try to be a favorite anymore. I don’t need to because like all the children of God, I am a favored one, a beloved one, a treasured one; as are you all, Dear Believers. Rest in His all-consuming, never-ending, completely restoring Love.