Three Times He Denied Him
Three Times He Denied Him, Three Times He Said, “I Love You.” We know the person of Peter, the Apostle, the friend and follower of Jesus Christ. And we know Peter, the one who when confronted by the political power of the day denied that even knew his friend and teacher. Out of fear, Peter was unable to stand strong and profess his commitment to Jesus and his message of love. How are we like that? Are we able to stand firm and proclaim our commitment to Jesus Christ when the world around us is in chaos? When so many believe that if Jesus is who he said he is, then why can’t he fix all the evil in this world? Why can’t he change the hearts of the people who stand against him and his teaching? We know by faith and commitment to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that Jesus is certainly capable of ridding the world of evil, for he is God. However, we have been gifted free will, a free will that often leads us into chaos rather than to joy in the living Christ. Jesus experienced the betrayal of his friend Peter and we can only imagine how painful that was for him. Yet, we now know that it was all part of God’s plan for our salvation. God had a plan to save us from evil that comes from the use of that gift of free will. God sent his own Son to lead us, to teach us, to love us and to die for us that the debt for our sinfulness might be paid forever. Can we even fathom a love that great?! Now, after his Resurrection from the dead, Jesus gathers his friends again, not to punish or humiliate them, but out of that unending, unfathomable love, to greet them with, “Peace be with you” and to invite them to continue to take his message to the world. And as Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times, we hear in John’s Gospel how Jesus gave him an opportunity to redeem himself (if you will) when he asked him three times: “Do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!”
And to his three responses of confirmed love, Jesus tells Peter, “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was concerned for the lambs he was leaving in the care of his Apostles. He was imploring Peter and the others to care for his sheep in the same loving way that Jesus did when he was here on this earth. How will Peter, the other Apostles and we show our love for Jesus? We will care for those he loves. We will care for all people without judgement or prejudice. We will see Jesus in the face of every person and we will love them. By this, Jesus will know of our love for him. How many times does Jesus have to ask you? Once, three times, or an infinite number of times? “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep”: Love my people. Let us not deny that we know
Jesus and what he teaches. Let us go forth to love and to care for all of his sheep, all of our brothers and sisters.
Let us love as Jesus loves.
In faith and love,