By Grace Killian
"He 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’… ‘Follow me.’” - John 21: selected verses.
About a year ago, I visited the site on the shores Sea of Galilee where it is believed that Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection. After directing the disciples, out fishing, to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, Jesus shares breakfast with them. It is here, then, that Jesus has this famous exchange with Peter, asking three times if Peter loves him and commanding him: “Feed my sheep.” For this reason, this holy site, seen in the picture above, is now called the Primacy of St. Peter.
Jesus is offering Peter a second chance and inviting him to start again.
As I sat on this beach and reflected on its significance, every part of the story resonated with me. I was just finishing my time as Global Mission Fellow serving in Bethlehem, the West Bank of Palestine and Israel. In the midst of preparing myself to leave the place I had come to love so much, just as I was starting to feel adjusted and part of the community, I was touched by Jesus’ invitation to Peter to start again. It is a command stated simply enough by Jesus, yet I found myself reflecting on all of the ramifications of such an opportunity.
Through the exchange, Jesus is offering Peter redemption for his denial of Jesus during the trial that led to Jesus’ death. Jesus then reiterates his invitation: “Follow me.” Jesus is offering Peter a second chance and inviting him to start again.
In those moments on the beach, I thought about the opportunity I was facing to start again. Just as God had called me to Bethlehem twenty months earlier, God was now calling me to a new adventure once again. Accepting the invitation of “Follow me” was seeming to have far more moments of transition and starting again than I had foreseen.
To accept God’s offer of a new beginning requires us to step into the unknown.
God often invites us to start again, offering forgiveness and second chances. But such opportunities are not simply “redos” but rather, they are brand new adventures. Therefore, to accept God’s offer of a new beginning requires us to step into the unknown. Surely Peter must have felt the exhilaration of new opportunities afforded by forgiveness but also fear in the uncertainty of the journey ahead. Indeed, when God calls us to start again, we can experience both fear and excitement. Yet, our faithful response to God’s call requires trust and hope as we accept the invitation and begin a new adventure.
Discussion Questions: How is God calling you to a new adventure of faith right now?