However, that morning by the lakeside, Peter discovered that neither reverting to familiar patterns of behaviour nor keeping himself pre-occupied were the real answer to the complex pain he felt – that potent mixture of grief and shame. In his spontaneity he showed his love for his master by jumping out of the boat and going to greet him on the seashore. But a strange silence fell over the barbecue breakfast – none of them dared ask Jesus who he was. They thought he was their Lord, yet an uncertainty hung over them. Moreover, Peter needed to be reconciled to his Lord after letting him down so badly.
Jesus tackled the very thing of which Peter was afraid. Three times Jesus
asked him, “Do you love me?” The pain rises in Peter until
he loses his composure and bursts out: “Lord, you know everything,
you know that I love you!” It is only then that the wound is lanced,
the pain is dealt with properly, and Peter receives direction for his
future. He no longer need revert to his former occupation – now
he is to feed the flock, after the example of the Good Shepherd. He will
no longer be haunted by the memory of his denial – he is forgiven.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him in a mirror image of his
thrice repeated denial. Peter was not able to follow his master all the
way to death on that occasion on the eve of Good Friday. But now, because
his love for his master is certain, one day he may well be led where he
was unable to go before.
Let us widen our perspective even further. The miraculous catch of fish in this resurrection story echoes the miraculous catch of fish related by St Luke at the first calling of the disciples to follow Jesus. As we look at the wider sweep of Jesus’ relationship with the disciples we see more clearly what it is all about.
Let me illustrate from a recent experience. On Thursday evening Rob and I went on a tour of the stadium.mk down at Denbigh. We met the Manager and his assistant Martin Allen and Adrian Whitbread. Martin Allen was passionate about the Dons and the potential for their future. He said that meeting Pete Winkelman, the chairman, made all the difference to his accepting the position of Manager of the Dons. At times when he talked to the little crowd surrounding him I felt that he had the passion and fervour of a religious preacher. He exuded a tremendous sense of privilege which evoked his own commitment to the cause.
to last meeting
As Jane Williams comments: “Jesus does not say, ‘I love you and trust you’ to Peter before telling him to feed his sheep. “Instead he asks, ‘Do you love me?’ It is only when Peter acknowledges that loving God is about giving, not just about getting, that he can play the part that God has for him.”
Each eucharist is a reminder of the breakfast by the lake where the Lord himself is the host. “Come and eat!” he says. It is also a memorial of his death on the cross where he gave all for us. This is the point of Christian living: that all we live and die for, all we may give, all we may sacrifice is to be in response to our Lord’s generosity.
We have launched
Under One Roof as a means by which we can care both for the fabric of
our building and the life of the congregation that finds its spiritual
home here. We depend on the generosity of many people and organisations
to contribute both to the repair appeal and to the support of the ministry
of this church. But I would have no one give, however small or great,
if they are not giving in response to God’s generosity. The resurrection
stories in the gospels give us a clear picture of Peter’s relationship
with Jesus. After his denial he thought that things had ended. First his
going to the empty tomb and then his reinstatement by the lake showed
him that he could continue loving Jesus. Because of his renewed love for
Jesus he was able to carry out the mission to which he was called. So
let us hear the voice of the Lord, standing, perhaps only half-recognised,
in the morning mist of our uncertainty. He is calling: “Come! Come
and have breakfast!” And then after the meal he speaks words of
challenge and reassurance: “Do you love me? . . . . Feed my sheep!”
they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do
you love me more than these others do?"