“The third time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was hurt because 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.  Peter knew how his sin of denying Jesus three times hurt Him.  Luke’s gospel records how Peter “wept bitterly” after the cock crowed and Jesus looked straight at him.  That Jesus had predicted he would do that despite Peter’s insistence that he would stay faithful even to death did not help.  In this post-resurrection exchange, Jesus first asks Peter if he loves (apapao) Him unconditionally, and Peter, perhaps knowing his shame ventures that he loves (phileo) Jesus like a brother.  Jesus asks the second time in the same way with the same answer from Peter.  But, the third time, the source of Peter’s hurt may be that Jesus meets Peter where he is by asking if he loves (phileo) him.  When Peter answers that he indeed loves (phileo) Him, Jesus accepts that for then and gives him a task: “Feed my sheep.”  We’ve sinned and, if honest with God, might answer that we love (phileo) Him, but we have no time to wallow.

Are you feeding His sheep?

Doug Kashorek
Plattsburgh, NY

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