When I was young, my mother always told me to eat my peas because they were good for me. As an adult, I know she’s right. Green vegetables are an important source of protein, fiber, and vitamins...and they help lower cholesterol. Canadian researchers recently reported a new benefit: Peas can help fight high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease!
Just as physical nutrition is part of a healthy lifestyle, spiritual nutrition is part of growing in Christ. Good leaders know how to feed their flock spiritually nutritious food. This is what Jesus commissioned Peter to do in today’s reading. Before the Crucifixion, Peter had crashed and burned. Despite Jesus’ explicit warning, he had denied his Lord three times. When the rooster crowed, Peter “broke down and wept” (Mark 14:72). He’d failed miserably. Although he felt joyful at seeing Jesus resurrected, he returned to his old fishing job in despair.
As He so often does, Jesus met Peter right where he was—with a hot breakfast, no less (v. 9)! After the meal, they went on a walk, and Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” (v. 15), meaning more than the other disciples. After all, Peter had previously claimed greater loyalty than them (Matt. 26:33). This was an indirect rebuke by Jesus, accepted by Peter.
The third repetition of the question parallels Peter’s three denials (v. 17). But Jesus wasn’t rubbing it in. He wanted Peter to know he was fully forgiven, and to know He had work for him to do. The three commands to “feed my sheep” might be paraphrased, “Be the kind of shepherd God wants and I have modeled.” Peter’s story began anew with a fresh call from Christ, “Follow me!” (v. 19).
>> Are you glad that our God is all about redeeming and restoring failures? The Lord gave Peter forgiveness and an opportunity for a fresh start, and He can do the same for you!
We need only look to the Patriarchs to know that You use imperfect people to accomplish Your will—even after they have failed You. When we fail, teach us not to wallow in shame but to repent and embrace redemption.