When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly 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 truly 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.
It’s been three days since I betrayed Him. I lie in bed and think of it at night. It makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot eat.
Why could I not have been stronger?
The realization of my weakness has made me quieter, more humble. It makes me long for Him—He knew me so well, yet loved me. If I could just speak to Him again….
It’s a brisk Sunday morning on the Sea of Tiberias—business as usual for us. We have been out all night—me, Nathanael, Thomas, James and John. Fishermen’s lives cannot stop for grief or remorse; the fish bite equally on our good days and our bad. But they seem to be biting even less on this very early morning.
We are close to shore—maybe that’s the problem. Is that someone crouching there, on the sand? He’s trying to make a fire to ward off the chill.
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” It was him, the man from the shore.
“No.” We respond, skeptical of his intent.
“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
Great. Everybody’s a fisherman. What does he know? But…since we have caught nothing, we figure we will take the odd advice of this stranger.
We haul in the net and throw it to the other side, and within seconds hundreds of wriggling fish have filled it! I have never seen anything like it! The weight of the many fishes in our net has pulled us closer to the shore…and to the stranger. We try to hold onto our almost bursting catch while eyeing the advice-giver. And then John shouts:
“It is the Lord!”
Could it be? Could my Lord really be alive again? I can’t wait for this boat to take me to shore! I must find out! I must beg his forgiveness! I must show Him how much I love Him still! Jesus! I’m coming! The ice-cold wetness takes my breath and the salt stings my eyes as I jump from the boat and swim/run to see my Lord.
I want to run into His arms…but he stops me with a gentle command.
“Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Strange greeting…but I turn, and grab the slippery fishes and I serve my Lord with two flopping offerings. He smiles and takes them from my hand, putting them over the flame to cook.
And we eat, (We eat! My appetite has returned!) together again, my Lord and I, by the fire. Then He speaks:
Three times He asks, “Simon [Peter] son of John, do you love me?
And three times I respond, “Yes, Lord,” I say, “you know that I love you.”
“Feed my lambs.” He says. “Take care of my sheep.”
And then, only then, finally then, my exasperated heart understands:
Three times I denied Him. Now three times I promise my love.
By one fire, I rejected Him, but by another, He receives me back.
Jesus has forgiven my weakness by His greatness.
And I am forever grateful.
I will praise you Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave
The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.