John 21: 15-19 (NRSVA)
15 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.’ 16 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.’ 17 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. 18 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.’ 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
I wonder if Peter was waiting for Jesus to call him out on his triple denial?
I wonder if the joy of dining with Jesus once more came with a side dish of anxiety about what was still to be discussed?
Jesus begins his questioning. I wonder if Peter gulped?
‘Do you love me?’
I wonder how carefully Peter thought before answering this time?
What was going through Peter’s head when he heard the same question again and again?
Did I get it wrong? I’ll try again, with more gusto…
He’s asking me again?! What am I saying wrong?
Oh wait, that was the third time…
Follow you? You bet I will! Please don’t let me mess it up this time…
we may not feel able to write as eloquently as John,
or go to the ends of the earth like Paul,
but you gift us all with the opportunity to serve you like Peter.
Nourish us as we feed your lambs.
Guide us as we shepherd your lambs.
This day and every day.