John 21: 17 – 18
17 The third time Jesus said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
A bit like the 153 fish there are a lot of theories as to why Jesus asked Simon Peter three times if he loved him. The two most popular being, firstly, as Peter had denied him three times in the early hours of Good Friday or secondly, because in the culture of the day a way of stressing the importance of something was to repeat it twice.
Whatever the reason, it got to Peter; he was sad, not angry as it is often conveyed, but sad. Sad that Jesus who he had followed through thick and thin for three years, now asked of his love for him – how could he doubt, how could he, what more must Peter do to prove his love?
But Jesus did not ask for himself, he knew how much Peter loved him, the question was entirely for Peter’s benefit so that he could realise just how much he really did love Jesus.
Peter had a job to do, one that was hard that would lead him where he did not want to go, to bear burdens that he might think he could not bear, to face trials that would seem insurmountable. And Jesus knew he could not do any of that if Peter had even the slightest doubt of his love for Jesus.
Peter, emboldened by having his love confirmed, could take up his role as leader of the early Church. He could face all the trials and tribulations that were coming his way, for he knew he walked with the one who loved him and whom he loved.
As we face these uncertain times we walk with love, we walk in love, the love from and to our God who never needed to be asked if he loves us, but who nevertheless proves his love, day after day after day.
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, may we never take your love for granted, although you give unconditionally freely and without cost to us, may we ever appreciate its comfort its strength, its never ending presence in our lives.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,