you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
The first reading is the story of Saul’s conversion, his ‘Damascus Road Experience’. That experience transformed him from a persecutor of the church to an apostle, and laid the foundation for all his later activity and teaching. He had been forgiven, accepted, and commissioned!
The Gospel reading shows how the same thing happened to Simon Peter.
Peter was a man of action; he couldn’t stay sitting around waiting for Jesus to appear, he had to do something. So he decided to do some fishing, and others went with him. When the beloved disciple recognised Jesus at the water’s edge, Peter rushed to him, wading ashore while the others kept dry. His threefold denial was history, he thought; he had already met Jesus, and obviously found himself forgiven and loved, and his response was an overwhelming love for his Lord. The number of fish was a sign of the spiritual harvest to come. I don’t think the exact number was significant, just proof that a fisherman was at the scene!
The incident that followed was the last thing Peter expected. Surely the Lord did not need to ask whether he loved him! The response, ‘Feed my sheep’ was a sobering call to leadership, which he probably felt he had forfeited. But then the question was repeated twice more. (The Greek uses different words for ‘love’ and ‘sheep’, but I do not think that they are significant.) The threefold question had to remind Peter of his threefold denial; it wasn’t history after all, and no wonder he was grieved. But Jesus had to heal Peter properly; the denial could not be forgotten, it had to be dealt with, and that is what Jesus was doing by getting Peter to give a threefold declaration of love. That cleared the way for his commission as leader; and for the final proof of his love in his eventual martyrdom.
Transformation is not easy!
1) Peter loved Jesus so much because he knew he was forgiven his denials. What makes you love Jesus so much?
2) What in your life would you like Jesus to deal with?
Back to the top