v 17. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
This was a painful moment for Peter and John records it simply in the words Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. Peter had three times denied even knowing Jesus and now three times comes the opportunity to re-affirm his love and commitment to Him, and three times Jesus explains what Peter’s work is to be.
But the question about love comes as the first prerequisite. It remains as the first requirement in following and serving Jesus. It is not a question about training, or some skill or other. Nor is it simply a question of willingness or aptitude. Fitness for serving the purposes of Jesus depends on a response to the question ‘Do you love me? And it is a totally appropriate way to come to the end of John’s account of Jesus’ life. It was at end of chapter 20 that John explained his purpose in writing, ‘ But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name‘ It is life with God that is marked by love.
So how will you respond as we arrive at the end of our readings from this Gospel? How do you face the question that Peter faced?
You may have all the things written about in 1 Corinthians 13:2-3; you may have faith to move mountains, a willingness to give everything away to feed the poor, and even be willing to sacrifice your body – but without love, well, you are nothing.
So Jesus does ask you, ‘Do you really love me?’