On the night Jesus was betrayed, He predicted that Simon Peter would deny he knew the Lord three times. Sure enough Peter does that precisely that (Luke 22:54-62). Peter weeps bitterly we are told when he realises the gravity of what he has done.
In the ultimate turn of events, Jesus not only suffers, dies and is buried – BUT RISES AGAIN! Here our story moves from denial to reconciliation. In John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter a series of 3 questions:
“15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 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.”
Jesus gives Peter the chance to announce his love and devotion to Jesus. He had failed to acknowledge Him three times in Jerusalem, but now three times confirms his relationship. Three times denied – three times affirmed = once and for all forgiven.