When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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.
My inclination is to give Peter a break here. Yes I know that he denied the Lord three times.
I also know the shame that he felt because of those denials. Jesus saw through that shame and forced Peter to deal with the shame. He saw past those denials and he knew how much Peter loved him. Peter so needed the Lord to drag him out of his shame and challenge him to greater things. And the Lord was up to the task because he saw great things in his friend.
I love that Jesus saw in Peter a heart filled with care. Peter was a fisherman, not shepherd, by trade. Yet the Lord saw a heart filled with love, care and compassion for lost sheep. In speaking these difficult words to Peter the Lord was affirming and proclaiming his desires and plans for him. He is also speaking to us. He tells us that if we love Him we will care for his sheep. The two go hand in hand - if we love Jesus we will also love those that are his.
I love you Lord. Please, I beg you, open my eyes to your hungry lambs.