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.’
Before the crucifixion, a frightened Simon Peter denied knowing his friend Jesus. After the resurrection, Jesus sought out Peter to reinstate him as a disciple. Note that it was Jesus who had named him Peter, the rock, yet in this encounter he refers to him as Simon. It is a reminder that he had fallen, that he needed to make amends before he was ‘Peter’ once more.
This encounter between Peter and Jesus reminds us that it is never too late to put things right with God. Previously Peter may have feared he would never be able to put it right – after all, Jesus had died. The conversation mirrors the three times Peter had denied Jesus, by asking him to state three times that he loved Jesus. Peter was then commissioned to feed the lambs, take care of the sheep, and feed the sheep – the commission of the early church.
How well do we, as a church, feed the lambs, care for the sheep, and feed the sheep, protecting them, ensuring they are cared for and brought into the fold? And not just the sheep already in the fold, or just at the gate – what about those sheep that have wandered far away? Peter’s encounter with Jesus is a reminder to us all that not only does Jesus call us into relationship, he calls us to a role within the church.
God of fish and fire,
in the light of the resurrection
you ate breakfast on the beach with the disciples;
you found Peter and you forgave him,
as you find us and you forgive us;
you challenged Peter to lead and to care,
as you challenge us to follow you.
Give us the strength to follow where you lead,
to complete the tasks that you set before us.
In the power of Jesus’s name, we pray.
You can download this Prayer for the Week here