Suddenly, Jesus is there.
After his death, after his resurrection, Jesus shows up again for his followers. And each time it is a stunning experience for them.
Things haven't changed. When Jesus appears in our lives it still takes us by surprise. It could happen any moment, however ready we are – or not.
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.”
It’s way too much pressure to try and imagine how I would answer if Jesus were to ask, “Do you love me?” I hope, like Peter, my first response would be strong and convincing: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” And like Peter, I’d come to the realization that my resolve is colored by my previous failures. (Jesus asks Peter the same question three times, corresponding to Peter’s three denials.) We have a clue, however, that the repetition isn’t intended to highlight Peter’s failure; rather, Jesus is reinforcing his forgiveness. With forgiveness comes a job to do: "Feed my sheep." Jesus, the Good Shepherd, asks Peter to join in the task of shepherding. It is an invitation to carry on Jesus’ own ministry.
Do you love Jesus? Like Peter, you may quickly answer, “Yes,” or you may start adding up all the times you’ve let Jesus down. Search your soul and you’ll see that love is there, though you may first have to accept the forgiveness Jesus is offering you. When you respond in love to that forgiveness, then you too will hear Jesus’ invitation: Feed my sheep.
Lord Jesus, I love you. I give thanks that you first loved me and have a place for me in your designs for this world. Give me grace to love you more and to take this love to others. Amen.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love....
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:8, 10-12