Feed My Sheep

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 93; 150, Daniel 4:1-18, 1 Peter 4:7-11, John 21:15-25


The third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, it was early morning and they were fishing from a boat and he was on the beach tending a fire. When they came ashore he offered them breakfast. After the meal, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter answered, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you,” though by the third time he was a little hurt. Jesus replied each time by telling Peter to feed and tend his sheep.

As they walked down the beach, “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the [last] supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’” Peter seemed a little annoyed. Maybe that’s because he felt a twinge of guilt when he remembered the question. While Judas was the obvious betrayer, Peter – after saying he would never betray Jesus – denied him three times on the evening of the crucifixion. Afterward, he expected never to see Jesus again, much less to atone for his denials. In a bit of symmetry, Jesus gave Peter three chances to affirm that he indeed loved him.

We all screw up. Sometimes (parenting comes to mind) we screw up in the very act of trying not to. While apologies (if suitable) and reparations (if just) are appropriate, they aren’t the end of the fix. Jesus didn’t demand an apology or a penalty. Rather, he told Peter – the rock upon whom he would build his church – to take care of business. The best way to make amends to Christ, and possibly to almost anyone, is to listen to what matters to them and do what we can toward that end.

Mistakes don’t define you, but how you choose to recover from those mistakes tells you (and others) who you are. If you feel you’ve let down Christ, love him by feeding his sheep. If you’ve let down someone else, make it less about your guilt and more about whatever feeds their souls.

Comfort: You’ll make mistakes. God will love you anyway.

Challenge: Ask yourself whether you currently need to do any atoning, and what that would look like.

Prayer: God of the resurrection, make my life anew. Amen.

Discussion: What is the best apology you’ve received?

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