“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Jesus asks three times if Simon Peter loves him in John 21. Three times Jesus commissions him to:
- Feed my lambs
- Tend my sheep
- Feed my sheep.
Three times he asks Simon Peter if he loves Jesus.
Underneath these questions is a call to “Follow God”. To be taken by the hand and led into the unknown. Simon Peter is hurt by Jesus’ constant questioning, he doesn’t understand the call that his being placed upon him and yet he responds each time the same.
“Lord… I love you.”
This last year has been a whole heap of unknowns for Ashleigh and I. A year ago I joined with 21 pilgrims who yearn to see reconciliation and peace throughout the UK and Ireland. We had many moments of joy, but as we moved onto the next phase of our journey I realised that earthly reconciliation is only a temporary fix. A plaster, to cover the wound which can only be healed by the love of God.
Ashleigh, started her journey towards ordination. And after a couple of false starts she began training in September part time and has grown from strength to strength in her ministry. Reflecting the love God has for all people in deep and profound ways.
Yet, if that wasn’t enough we also answered a call to take up ministry in a new place, with a new flock. 50 days ago I was installed as Incumbent of St. Thomas, Norbury, and what a 50 days it has been.
We have seen over 1000 people come in and out of our building. We have mourned together at the loss of dear friends, while also celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ. We have danced and sang together, celebrating what is, but also sat pondered what is to come. It has been a hectic month and a bit, but that is part and parcel of God’s kingdom.
When Ashleigh and I look back on the last few months, we cannot believe what we have done. We know we are crazy, we know it has made our lives harder. But, we also know what motivates us, and it is the same love that motivated Peter.
When we began training for ministry we were very aware that life would not be easy. That there would be compromise and difficult decisions to make, but we decided to follow God’s call.
As I reflect upon Jesus’ question to Simon Peter, I cannot but help think that I’d be annoyed too. Annoyed that Jesus didn’t believe me, but then like Peter I would be missing the point. For just like Peter none of us know where we are being called. All we know is that we are being called through love. And the challenge is to show that love to others.
Jesus asks “do you love me?”
We are shocked by the places God’s love has shown up over the last few months and we are so excited to continue to follow it, wherever it may lead us. But, sometimes it is hard to remember who we are doing this for. It is easy to be caught up in the shiny or promising and forget the love which has called us.
The love which braved the darkest depths to call us home. The love which suffered the agony of the cross. We will not all face Peter’s call. Not everyone is expected to bare that particular cross. But we are all called out of God’s love.
I wonder where that love is calling you, and I wonder what your response would be to Jesus’ probing question.
“Do you love me more than these?”