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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Scripture 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)
After Jesus was arrested and taken to trial, Peter was asked by three different people if he knew Jesus and was one of his disciples. Peter denied it every time, even though he had previously assured Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37). At the crowing of the cock, Peter remembered that Jesus had foretold his denials, and he “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).
Now the risen Christ provides Peter with a new beginning and a vote of confidence in his faithfulness. Three times Christ invites Peter to declare that he loves Jesus. In the moment, Peter felt hurt that Jesus repeated his question “Do you love me?” several times. In retrospect, Peter may have realized that the risen Christ gave him a triple opportunity to affirm his love for Jesus, countering his previous triple denial. Despite Peter’s denial, Jesus shows his love and confidence in Peter by giving him leadership. Jesus’ command to “feed my sheep” connotes that Peter is to be a good shepherd of Jesus’ followers, just as Jesus had been. Peter’s leadership will also lead to suffering and a cruel death, but Jesus affirms that Peter is now ready to lay down his life for Christ.
There are times in our lives when we are filled with remorse over something we have done or failed to do. Our guilt and deep disappointment in ourselves may paralyze us from moving forward or letting God fully use us. Yet Christ extends forgiveness. Not only does Christ offer us a fresh start but also a high calling to dedicate our lives with all we have to offer.
Merciful God, free me from shame and self-doubt. Thank you for forgiving me and calling me to serve you fully. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
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