“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Peter said to him “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him a 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 “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus makes a fire on the beach of the Sea of Galilee and is cooking breakfast for the disciples who were unsuccessfully fishing about a hundred yards off shore. He instructs them to throw their net over the other side of the boat and soon the net is swarming with fish. Impulsive Peter, realizing it was Jesus, jumps overboard and swims to shore.
Jesus invites the tired fishermen to eat breakfast.
Later Jesus asks Peter the questions above.
I’m sure Peter is filled with shame and remorse as he remembers his three denials of Jesus on the night Jesus was taken into captivity. Peter knew he deserved a serious lecture at best.
And yet the conversation with Jesus reveals a tender gentleness as Jesus asks his questions. He wanted to both encourage and exhort Peter in the role that lay ahead of him as a leader and shepherd in the new Church.
How like Jesus to consider Peter, despite his many flaws, as the best candidate for the job that lay ahead.
Though Peter was saddened by the repeated question, he was able to leave his shame and guilt behind, and enter into the love and purpose that Jesus had for him.
As I read the details of this encounter I couldn’t help but reflect back over my own life, to the times that I’ve denied Jesus.
Times when fear, embarrassment, or the worry of being perceived intolerant have stopped me from speaking up when I knew I should have.
I can identify with Peter’s failure and yet I believe that Jesus has important tasks for me despite my inadequacies.
Jesus asks us all these same questions today. As we encounter him regularly we become more aware that success and perfection are never what He is looking for in our lives. Rather he looks for recognition of our flaws, a growing humility, and an acknowledgment of the power of the Holy Spirit. These provide the fertile soil that allows growth and Kingdom fruit in our lives.
“Nancy, do you love me? Feed my lambs”
“The Body at Calvary, do you love me? Tend my sheep”
“The Body of Jesus around the world, do you love me? Feed my sheep”
Face to Face With Jesus Teaching Series
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