Within this text, the resurrected Christ asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?"
I always kind of felt sorry for Peter in this story. I've been on the side of being questioned when I was in the wrong and it's never comfortable. Why does Jesus seemingly badger Peter about this?
One popular interpretation is that this gives Peter the chance to publicly affirm Jesus three times since he denied him three times after his arrest.
|Sometimes tending the flock includes keeping them together!|
I see these questions as both a challenge and an affirmation. They come to Peter who leads the church as we move into the next chapter of the Christian story at the end of the Gospel. And so, along with Peter, we are all affirmed as Jesus charges us with his own mission. Jesus actually has faith in us that we can do this! At this same time, it is a challenge in that it is not an easy task.
The church is still working on what it means to feed the sheep of Jesus. Sometimes we get it right and other times we fail miserably which is also Peter in a nutshell. Maybe the real point of this story is that Jesus doesn't give up on Peter. And so Jesus doesn't give up on us as well.
I'm looking forward to exploring this text more on Sunday morning as we put ourselves in Peter's shoes!
Photo by Wayne Seward via Flickr.com, used under the creative commons license.
1 O'Day, Gail R. "The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections", The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume IX. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998, 860.