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Setting aside unworthiness or fear

August 2, 2022

Daily Scripture

John 21:15-19

15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Many people feel unworthy or fearful about being a witness for Jesus. No one ever had more reason for those feelings than Peter, who three times denied knowing Jesus. Jesus didn’t let that failure haunt Peter forever. He allowed Peter to three times affirm his love, deeper because Jesus forgave him after he failed. After clearly showing the possible earthly cost of witnessing, Jesus repeated the same simple, sweeping call: “Follow me.”

  • Scholar N. T. Wright said, “The three questions correspond to Peter’s three denials. Three for completeness, yes, but three also for reminder. The smell of the charcoal fire lingers. Peter’s night of agony—and Jesus’ own night of agony—returns. But because of the latter, the former can be dealt with.” * What fears or failures limit your witness to Jesus? Imagine yourself with Jesus. Hear him ask, “______, do you love me?” Answer, three times, and let Jesus’ grace remove any barriers that block you.
  • There have been (and are today) brave martyrs, but most Christ-followers through the ages have not had to die for their faith. Yet Jesus calls us all to “die” to ways of thinking and living that do not fit with his life and example. How eager or reluctant are you to follow Jesus into changed thoughts and habits that show God’s glory to those around you? How can you and God make the most of each day of the rest of your life?

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Lord Jesus, “Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.” I recite John Wesley’s prayer at church. Please help me to mean it. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise serves as the Care Coordination Director for the churchwide Care Central department at Church of the Resurrection.

Jesus asked Simon three times “Do you love me?” Simon, of course, answered “yes” each time. As I read this, I couldn’t help thinking about how Simon must have felt during that conversation–Jesus asking him the same question over and over.

Simon had a chance to repeatedly profess his love for Jesus. And each time he did, Jesus instructed him to “feed my lambs” and “take care of my sheep.” Almost as if Simon was being challenged to step up and prove it.

If I have asked someone the same question over and over, it’s normally because I had doubts about their answer. In many of those cases, I too wanted more than words. I wanted to see some proof that what they were saying was true.

At first glance, I thought Simon had a pretty good deal here. Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” Simon throws back a quick, “Yes, you know I do.” But then I thought about the times where I have told Jesus that I loved Him, over and over. Sadly, a lot of those times were when I hadn’t shown it. I was having to repeat my words to try and overcome my actions, to convince Jesus and myself that I truly loved Him.

It’s easy to say, “I love you, Jesus.” Whether we say it three times, thirty or three hundred, there has to be some action behind it. Loving Jesus is not a word game, it requires more. Jesus wants to not just hear our affirmations. He wants us to show that love.

We all know what “I love you Jesus” sounds like, but what does it look like to take care of His sheep?

Taking care of His sheep looks like filling a school supply bag for a child you don’t know, or buying a few extra groceries to donate to people who are food insecure, or shoveling a neighbor’s driveway when it snows, or sending a note of encouragement when a coworker is overwhelmed, or providing a meal when a friend is sick, or. . .

This reminds me of the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” What would happen if every one of us told Jesus that we love Him with our actions? How much impact could we have if each time we professed our love to Jesus, we validated it with an action?

That love could change the world. One “I love you” at a time–one kindness, one blessing, one smile, one box of cereal or pack of crayons-–could start a movement that transforms people’s lives. I love you Jesus. Now I’m off to show it! Please join me!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N.T., John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 162). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.