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Sunday, September 8, 2013
Today’s Reading | John 21:15−19
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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” (NRSV)
John gives us glimpses of Peter’s faith journey. When Jesus asks his disciples if they would prefer not to follow him, Peter said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Later, as Jesus bent to wash Peter’s feet, Peter protested, “Never!” Jesus responded, “If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be my disciple.” Peter replied, “Then wash not only my feet but my hands and head, too!” (John 13:8−9). When Jesus says the disciples cannot follow where he must go next, Peter says, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay my life down for you!” (John 13:37). Then Jesus tells Peter he will deny Jesus three times. Peter indeed did.
The crucified and risen Christ counterbalances the three denials Peter made with three opportunities for Peter to say yes. Peter knew all about denying Jesus—and the ensuing guilt and shame. Now Peter not only discovers what it means to be forgiven but is given a clear, concrete way to express his love for Christ—by pledging his life to care for Jesus’ flock.
I am deeply grateful that in spite of my unfaithfulness, God not only allows us to begin anew but gives us an incredibly meaningful way to express love for God by loving our neighbors.
Gracious God, I love you. I love you. I love you. Strengthen me to give myself fully to care for people as you desire. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
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