Do You Love Me?
Do You Love Me?
This is the question Jesus poses to Peter in the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter (John 21:1-19). This final chapter of John’s gospel is referred to as the epilogue. Here, Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection. It was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus called out to them and invited them to breakfast. After eating, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. He didn’t ask him once or twice, but three times. Asking Peter three times seems significant since just some days earlier, Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times. While Jesus was being judged by the high priests, Peter surprised himself when he did indeed deny that he knew him.
I felt a little sorry for Peter. First, he denied Jesus and now he was being asked a question that Jesus already knew the answer to. Peter must have felt frustrated. “Distressed” is the word found in John’s gospel. The image of a distressed and frustrated Peter paints a humble picture of the disciple upon whom Jesus would build his church. Jesus asked Peter, the fisherman from Galilee and one of his first followers - a man who denied knowing him - to feed his sheep.
Perhaps Peter falls short of what one might expect a leader to be and maybe he lacks the skills it takes to be the head of such a church but it is who Jesus chose. What does this say to us? It shows us that we are all qualified to lead and to carry on the ministry of Jesus. Peter must have been a broken man after the crucifixion, but that is how Christ our Saviour takes us: broken and humble. Jesus didn’t chose perfect human beings, he chose people who would follow him. And he chooses us. Jesus doesn’t have high expectations; he only asks that we follow.