“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.’” vs. 17
On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion Peter had denied his Lord three different times. Following the resurrection he needed rehabilitation…somehow the relationship had to be restored. To be sure, Peter was deeply sorry for his denial and he had remained connected to the rest of the disciples and was even functioning as a leader. But trust is fragile and not easily restored…so Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Each time Peter reaffirms his love…and the third time is even a bit offended to be asked again. But talk is cheap and Jesus wants to be sure of Peter’s commitment. Ultimately words will not be enough…Jesus requires action. There’s work to be done…precious sheep and lambs need to be fed, and sacrificial love is the only way forward. According to the tradition Peter was successfully rehabbed and took his place as a dominant leader in the early Christian community. Some ancient traditions wrapped in many layers of legend even say that he was the first pope. His story shows the power of love, not just the love he expressed for Jesus, but the forgiving and restorative love that rests in the heart of the Christ.
Thought for the Day: How many “I love you’s” does it generally take to restore trust?