A resurrected Jesus approaches Peter and asks him "Do you love me?"
Peter responds, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Then Jesus says, "Feed my lambs."
Jesus asks again, Peter responds again, and Jesus says, "Tend my sheep."
Jesus asks again, Peter responds again (agitated this time), and Jesus says, "Feed my sheep."
Now, what if I told you that familiar passage isn't about love.
And it isn't about going out in service.
And it isn't about...well, it isn't about sheep but you probably about got that!
It is about forgiveness.
The resurrected Christ appears to Peter -- the same Peter who just a few short chapters ago denied Jesus three times -- and gives him the chance to affirm Christ three times.
It is a powerful passage. Peter has been lost and adrift since denying Jesus. It appears that he's given up and simply gone back to his old ways. He's fishing again, after all.
Yet he encounters the risen Christ and resurrection comes to Peter too.
We've been talking this Easter season about how resurrection is about new life; how resurrection takes all your pain, all your hurt, all your sins, all your fears and transforms them through the power of God's promises into something new, into a life worth living. And that's what happens to Peter.
Peter is forgiven. Peter is commissioned. Peter goes forth to truly earn his name as the Rock on which the church was built.
Thanks be to God for the gifts of forgiveness, resurrection, and new life.
John 21:15-19 -- Jesus and Peter
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.’