FEED MY SHEEP
Today’s passage occurs after Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection. The disciples are fishing- but without any success- when Jesus calls to them from the shore. When they recognize Jesus, they hurry to him and find that he has cooked breakfast. (Doesn’t this story just make us want to smile?)
Light the Prophecy, Bethlehem and Shepherd Candles.
John 21:15-17 (NRSV)
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.”
Bible scholars have written of the significance of Jesus’ words to Peter. He asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. Each time Peter says that he does, Jesus then simply replies, “Feed my sheep.” We recall that Peter denied Jesus three times when Jesus was being crucified. Jesus is entrusting Peter to feed his sheep as a symbolic redemption for each time Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus asks him to declare his love, and then commands him to care for others out of that love.
We are Perceivers of Joy when we understand how Jesus saw beyond Peter’s brokenness and once again affirmed Peter’s love and obedience. Our joy comes in noticing how Jesus doesn’t seem angry with Peter. As a human himself, perhaps Jesus understood the fear that Peter must have had, and so Jesus only invites him to move on from there.
We are broken as well, and yet Jesus calls us for breakfast, to come and break bread with him. We are imperfect, and yet Jesus entrusts us to share his life and love for all people. Jesus knows we will make mistakes- Peter certainly did- but he can still use us in all circumstances or situations. At times, we see how even our mistakes can lead to greater good.
Our joy comes in knowing that as imperfect as we are, we are still included in Jesus’ invitation to partake of his perfect meal. We are invited to gather together in his presence, to be fed and nourished as only Jesus can do. As imperfect as we are, we are still included in Jesus’ invitation to take part in his perfect plan to feed his sheep. We are invited to nourish all who are hungry, and to welcome everyone who longs to gather for the meal Jesus has graciously prepared for us all.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for inviting us in and sending us out. Thank you for the joy of gathering with you at the table, and for the joy of being entrusted to share what we have received at the table- your love- with the world. Amen.