Asking the Same Question

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 21:17

We all know the feeling.

We know that feeling of wishing you could take back whatever it is that caused pain. If only we could make it right again. We know those feelings of disappointment, betrayal, or abandonment. We know the brunt of heartache, sadness, and frustration.

We all know that feeling.

How great is it, then, to also hear that a moment of weakness doesn’t define the relationship?

How liberating is it to know that the mistake of the child doesn’t negate the love of the parent?

In this situation, Jesus shares an intimate moment with Peter. Sharing a meal, Jesus reminds Peter that his identity isn’t found in his shortcomings. His life won’t be remembered by a momentary weakness. He won’t be defined by denial and abandonment. Instead, Jesus reminds Peter he still has an important role to play. He will be a leader within the work of God’s Kingdom.

Over and over, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” This process was designed by Jesus to remind Peter that repentance and devotion matter more than his flaws. Jesus is restoring and redeeming Peter, reminding him that he belongs to something more, something bigger, and that his life is now defined by resurrection.

And Jesus does the same for us.

Again and again, Jesus will ask us the same question. “Do you love me?” He does this to remind us, just as he did with Peter, we aren’t defined by our flaws, weakness, shortcomings, doubt, fear, betrayal, or hopelessness. We belong to something. We belong to someone.  Jesus is reminding us that resurrection has and continues to take place. We are redeemed and reaffirmed that faith, love, hope, and trust are the defining attributes of our lives. We share in Peter’s experience because we are people of resurrection.

Jesus looks through our mistakes to ask us again, “Do you love me?” We reply, over and over, “Yes, Lord, you know that we do!” He will tell us again, “Feed my sheep.” The joy of Easter resides in people of resurrection, those who play a part in God’s continuing,
developing kingdom. Every day is another chance, another opportunity, one where Jesus will ask us, “Do you love me?” If we respond with that resounding “YES!,” then we already know our instructions.  “Feed my sheep.”

May you believe in the resurrection. May you believe it has power in your life. May you believe that God looks beyond weakness to provide strength. May you believe the Savior lives. May you believe that you are people of the resurrection. May you always feed his sheep.

— Trent Sessoms