Can You Hear Me Now?
By Grace Andrews of Independence, MO, USA
Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. —John 21:17 NRSV, adapted
How did Peter first respond so Jesus’ question? A little flippantly? “Sure, Jesus, you know I love you.” Perhaps then he silently wondered why Jesus asked such a question—and why now?
The question comes again. Peter, a little irritated, wonders why Jesus didn’t hear him the first time. “Of course I love you.” Jesus asks a third time. Peter hesitates, then answers firmly, “Lord, you know all things. You know my heart; you know I love you.” Jesus says, “Feed my sheep…and follow me.”
Did religious leaders have cotton in their ears when Jesus told them they didn’t belong to his sheep? He said his sheep hear his voice. “I know them; they know me and follow me.” He referred to himself as the good shepherd, searching for the bruised and brokenhearted, gently picking them up, binding wounds, and nurturing them with compassion.
When we were visiting a friend in California, he suggested our children try to call the cows in from the pasture. Our kids were on the fence yelling and waving frantically. The cows swished their tails and politely ignored them until Paul’s quiet voice called. They ran to the fence so he could greet and pet each one. Amid our noisy world, Jesus calls, sometimes quietly, asking us to follow him and to be gentle shepherds, too.
Jesus’ question is personal—Do I love him? Am I feeding his sheep? Who led me to the good shepherd? More importantly, does my life lead others to follow him? He chose people whom his love could change.
He pleads with us, “Follow me.” Do we say, “Maybe later, Lord” or “Would you just accept part of us?” Do we need to check our calendars first? Or do we say, “Yes, Lord, with all that I am, all that I can be, I am committed to follow you all the days of my life. And yes, I will feed your sheep.”
Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, forgive us for our casual response when you call. Help us listen carefully, answer without hesitation, and respond to your sheep with compassion.
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Direct your mind to places where people have no homes. Think of the wars and natural disasters that destroy the homes of refugees. Be aware of the hungry and homeless who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ is tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying, “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”
Today, God, I will remove my ear buds and tune in to your Spirit.