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John 21:15-19, Jesus and Peter

Tuesday, April 3

Feed My Sheep

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 feed my sheep

"Do you love me?" Jesus asked three times. And three times Peter answered him -- "Yes, you know I do!" Why would Jesus ask Peter three times a question he already knew the answer to? It wasn't for Jesus to be reassured he was loved. Just days before, Peter had denied Jesus three times at a time when Jesus needed his friends the most. It must have grieved Peter to know he had betrayed his best friend at such a time, and now there was no opportunity for repentance or reconciliation. But then there was. And Jesus gave it to him -- three opportunities to make up for the three times he denied him. Three times for Jesus to claim his repentance and give Peter a mission of his own.

Reconciliation in words alone is not enough. True reconciliation comes with actions that show a real intention to change. Jesus knew just the thing -- Peter's mission of reconciliation would be, not to show his allegiance for Jesus, but to show his love for Jesus' children. Peter would be charged with the mission to feed hungry people with the nourishing word of God. It would be difficult and dangerous, but Jesus had prepared him well, and it was now his time to "follow" Jesus by leading the others into this mission.

When we are called to repentance, reconciliation is not always possible with the person we repent to. They may be resistant to our pleas for forgiveness. They might be dead. There are many reasons we might repent without direct reconciliation. But we can still be reconciled with others of God's children in our efforts to repent for past mistakes. We can move forward into the world, serving God's children in whatever capacity we might be called. We can become new people, changed by our behaviors and new attitudes. We can answer Jesus' question, "Do you love me?" with a resounding, "Yes! You know that I do!" So then, "Feed my sheep."

Narrative Lectionary Text: 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.”