Feed My Sheep
Peter messed up. He might have lived the rest of his life with shame and regret, except he was restored by Jesus on a shore by the lake where he and his partners had returned to fishing.
They fished all night and caught nothing. We might understand if Peter thought his life was cursed after denying three times he even knew Jesus in the face of the accusations by the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest. He had declared to Jesus and the rest of the disciples he would never betray his Lord. And yet he gave in to the fear of the moment to keep himself out of trouble, and did exactly that.
They saw a figure on the shore. They did not recognize Him. Perhaps they were supernaturally prevented from realizing it was Jesus. Perhaps they still could not conceive He was alive.
The man called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" Their answer was direct and to the point. "No." Then the man on the shore called out, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” They did. And they did! So many fish they were unable to haul in the net. They had seen this movie before.
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, told Peter, "It is the Lord!"
Impetuous Peter did what he always does. Instead of waiting for the boat to make it to shore, he jumped in the water and made his way to Jesus. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the nets, which were full of 153 fish. (They counted. It's what fishermen do.)
Jesus had built a charcoal fire. He had fish cooking, and bread. He invited them to breakfast. When they had finished eating, Jesus addressed Peter directly.
“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.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 NIV)
Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to express his love for Him. One confession of love for each of the three denials. And Jesus called Peter back to his mission. Peter had been called to fish for people. The denials didn't change that calling. They didn't negate it. Out of love for Jesus, Peter is still called to shepherd the flock and fish for people. He was forgiven. He was restored.
Meeting the risen Lord does that. When we encounter Jesus, raised from the dead, and know His loving, forgiving grace, we are forgiven and restored. The brokenness of our past does not disqualify us from living for Him in the future. Life becomes more and more about Him and less and less about us. We receive a new start -- a do-over.
Today, on Easter Sunday, we remember and believe and claim anew the ancient truth of our faith:
Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
And that makes all the difference in the world. Have a blessed and joyful Easter, everyone!