Sunday 10 April 2016

Bible Book:

“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.’” (v.15)

John 21:1-19 Sunday 10 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 30


The fourth Gospel differs from the other three in its account ofJesus' appearances to his disciples after his resurrection.According to John, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene in thegarden (John 20:11-18), then to some of the disciples(not including Thomas) on the evening of that day (John20:19-23), then to Thomas and others a week later (John20:24-29). Lastly, at an unspecified time, Jesus greets hisdisciples from the shore of Lake Galilee as they complete anunsuccessful night's fishing.

It is a story which is rich in meaning and invites deepreflection. One clue to understanding it seems to be in the numberof echoes of other stories in John's Gospel that we might hear, notunlike an operetta's finale based on reprised tunes from earlier inthe work. The focus of the latter part of the story is on Peter andthree echoes can be heard in the repeated question and answersequence which begins with Jesus asking, "Simon son of John, do youlove me?"

The first echo is of the first chapter of the Gospel. WhenAndrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, Jesus 'looked at him andsaid, "'You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas'(which is translated Peter)" (John1:42). We do not hear Jesus call Peter 'Simon son of John'again until this conversation after breakfast. It is an echo ofPeter's first call.

The echo is twice repeated as the threefold questioning of Peterreminds us of the three times that Peter said he did not know Jesus(John 18:15-17, 25-27). The recapitulation has aclear message: the denial is forgiven and Peter is free to starthis ministry again.

The third echo tells us something about that ministry. Peter iscommanded to "feed my sheep" (v. 17). This echoes chapter 10 whereJesus describes himself as "the good shepherd". Peter is entrustedwith a share in that shepherding but is warned that it will becostly. The good shepherd lay down his life for the sheep (John10:11). Peter is also called to service that will cost him his life(verse 18). The deceptively simple phrase with which the passageends, "Follow me" (v. 19) (itself an echo of words in chapter 1),is loaded with meaning.

To Ponder

  • In the echo of his denial, Peter had to face the reality ofwhat he had done. In post-Apartheid South Africa, a truth andreconciliation commission worked to address the crimes that hadbeen committed so that the country could move forward. Are theresituations of which you are aware where a painful truth has to befaced in order that there might be a new beginning? How might thatprocess begin?
  • This resurrection appearance was a new beginning for Peter. Insome churches there is the renewal of Baptism vows on Easter Day, asign of a new beginning in our commitment to Christ. How helpful doyou find it to 'go back to the beginning' of your own Christianstory at Easter?

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