In John’s gospel, Jesus confronts Peter by asking him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter is hurt because he remembers the three times he cowardly denied Christ during the passion. Peter is all too aware of his failure and commitment to even knowing Jesus. With Peter’s answer to Christ, he repeats three times that he loves him. His last answer is: “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus focuses on Peter’s capacity to love, not on his failure. He doesn’t chastise him for his denials. He doesn’t say, “Well, I was wondering after you denied that you knew me three times.” Instead, Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.” In other words, “Get going and serve my people.” Peter realizes he has been given increased responsibility for the early Christian community. He becomes the rock on which Christ’s church was founded.
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have become a new creation. We are to ask and accept his forgiveness for our failures and many misgivings. He knows us and loves us. He wants us to get on with his mission.
Today, everyone on the planet is caught in the gaping jaws of uncertainty. Are we so laser-focused on the current pandemic that we are not hearing Jesus ask, “Do you love me?” Are we to assume that Jesus knows we love him? Are we showing our love to him by taking every opportunity that comes our way to show love to others? Are we being protective of the most vulnerable by following the CDC guidelines?
We have been given a ministry of service. Are we responding to the needy, lonely, isolated during this “new normal”? Are we patient and tolerable with our family members at home all under the same roof? Do we have good intentions but never follow through?
May we live Sheridan’s mission statement, “We are a community of God’s faithful followers who have been called by God to grow spiritually, love deeply and share abundantly.” Let us live this “new normal” life by hearing Jesus and responding: “You know that I love you.” Go and serve!
Thank you for loving me when I fail. Forgive me when I neglect to live a life of loving service. Open my ears that I might hear you. Show me the path of love to take each new day. Amen
Written by Janece Nelson
John 21:15-19 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Reinstates Peter
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Janece and husband, Mike, have been members of Sheridan for more than 12 years. Janece is a retired mathematics instructor teaching at the middle school and college level. They are blessed with two children and three grandchildren. Janece finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends. Her passion is writing devotions for patients in hospitals and rehabs she sees every Monday as a Sheridan hospital visitor. As a Teammate, she also mentors girls at Boys Town. Janece credits Faith Builders and Companions in Christ for her spiritual growth.