Devotions on Emotions (and Scripture) by the First Pres Pastors
A reflection on John 21:15-19
“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.’ 16A 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.’ 17He 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. 18Very 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.’
Sunday afternoons in my home, at this time, is my most tangible example of what it feels like to be loved. When the placid, warm brown eyes of my dog, Sammie, close and he curls around to sleep on my lap, I am warmed by not just his body but that love. Love, that allows me to relax and just be. When I feel love, like that of my beloved pet, I am reminded of just a small pinch of God’s love for each of us is represented in that small body. It is a love that I daily reveille in as I see God’s love reflected in my life.
When I am loved, I am safe, I am freed, and I am never alone – it is something I know deep in my marrow. As Christ Jesus gathered the disciples around a campfire after the resurrection, he asks of Peter – Do you love me? Three times. Yes, Lord. Three times, instructed feed my sheep. Love for Jesus at this moment for Peter is to feed and care for others. Following Jesus is a call to Peter beyond himself, beyond his worries, beyond his fears, to others. To follow Jesus is to love as Jesus loves. It is a love that asks one, how can I be Christ-like as Jesus loved me?
Sometimes, that leads us to uncomfortable moments, love from Sammie, can also cause my legs to go to sleep! To love as Jesus loves us, sometimes leads to uncomfortable places. Love calls us to love other sheep, and sometimes, that love is returned. Loved, as we belong to God and called into a life that matters. Follow me? Yes, Lord!
Dear Jesus, we are thankful to have experienced love in you and are challenged by that call to share that love with your sheep. May your presence be known to our hearts and strengthen us to feed you sheep as we follow you. In your powerful name we pray. Amen.