Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, and he was led away to be crucified. Now three times Jesus asks Peter to confess his love for him, feed his sheep, and follow him. I can only imagine what was going through Peter's mind. Peter is right behind Judas the betrayer on the crucifixion scoundrel list. To save his own skin, he denied knowing Jesus, and now Jesus has forgiven him and is, in fact, commissioning him to continue to proclaim the kingdom of God and to tend the flock. Peter received great mercy. "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48b) Peter couldn't have known how much Jesus was asking of him. Jesus is asking him to follow him into unknown and hostile territories, to take risks and stretch way outside his comfort zone for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Have you received great mercy? How far outside your comfort zone are you willing to follow Jesus?
Lord God, we are grateful for the mercy that you have shown us in your Son Jesus. Give us courage to follow him. Amen.
John 21:15-19 (NRSV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
16 A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
17 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.
18 "Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go."
19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."