Living the Resurrection
“Do You Love Me?”
A whole week had passed since the risen Christ last appeared to his disciples, and they were begin- ning to get a bit restless. Jesus had come to them twice now—first on the afternoon of resurrection day and then again a week later when Thomas was with the group. Since then, they had been struggling to under- stand what it meant or what they must do. So, finally, Peter up and says “I’m going fishing.” And the others said, “We’ll go with you.”
So they went back to a place that was familiar, a place where they had many good memories of their time with Jesus. They went to the Sea of Galilee. They went fishing.
Now much of the fishing in those days was actually done at night. Fishermen would light torches on their boats hoping to attract the fish and then they would cast out their nets. Peter and the others fished all night, laboring with those heavy nets, and they caught nothing! As dawn came, they were exhausted, dis- couraged, and definitely ready to call it quits. That’s when they heard a faint voice calling from the beach. In the dim early morning light, they could’nt see who it was; but the man was telling them to cast out one more time. They did, and to their amazement, there were so many fish in the net they could barely haul it in. Suddenly, they realized who was on the beach. “It is the Lord!” John exclaimed. And Peter was so ex- cited that he jumped out of the boat and swam to shore.
What follows is really the main point of the lesson. Jesus has prepared breakfast for them. After eating, Jesus takes Peter aside and asks him a question; indeed, he asks him the same question three times: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” Peter answers each time with a bit more emphasis: “Yes, Lord…you know that I love you.”
Then Jesus would say, “Feed my sheep…tend my lambs…feed my sheep.”
Many scholars agree that this was the risen Christ’s way of “fixing priorities.” It is as if he was say- ing to his followers that the way we prove our love for Him will always be revealed by the fruit that comes out of our faith. And the greatest fruit of all is love—love for Christ, but also love for our neighbors.
When Jesus said “Feed my sheep,” I believe he meant it in the most literal and direct way—we are to reach out to the “least of these” in care and compassion, which is the best way of all to share Christ. But I believe Jesus also had something else in mind when he said “Feed my sheep…tend my lambs.” I think he meant this in a spiritual way, too. You see, as we strive to love Christ and others, we also grow in our faith. We grow closer to the living Christ. And when those around us see Christ in our lives, often they are in- spired to grow, too.
That day on the shore of Galilee, the risen Christ showed Peter and those disciples his priorities. What he said is at the heart of what it means to “live the resurrection” by being the hands and feet of Christ; by being the “Body of Christ” in the world. Are these not our priorities, as well?