Our scripture this morning is John 21:15-17.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.“

In this passage the disciples are fishing in the early morning when Jesus appears on the shore. He has prepared breakfast for them over a charcoal fire and afterwards He speaks to Peter, asking “do you love me?”, not just once but three times. This reminds Peter (and us) of his denying Jesus three times and the shame he feels because of it.

The charcoal fire on the beach mirrors the charcoal fire in the courtyard when Peter denied the Lord (John 18:18). He is forced to acknowledge his failure but Jesus uses this not to hurt Peter but to restore him. In this is forgiveness and a call to action.

Later in 1 Peter 5:2 he passes on Christ’s commission to all of us: ”Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.“ Like Peter, we have all fallen and thus denied the Lord in one way or another. However, like Peter, we can all be forgiven, restored and sent into the world to share the Good News.

Gracious God, You sent Your son to love and save and free us. Strengthen us in faith that we may share Your love with all the world. Amen.

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