Acts of the Apostles 25:13-21
King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’
Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’
In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’
Do you love me more than these
Earlier this week, we talked about our basic instincts – wrath, greed, lust, pride, sloth, envy, gluttony and how the devil tempts us to damnation by blurring the lines of morality. Small sins blend into bigger sins which in turn, compound into the sins that lead to the damnation of our Christian soul.
The examples of slippage are so innocuous that we’re all guilty of it, on a daily basis. We’re guilty of snapping impatiently at our loved ones when we’ve had a bad day. Compound this over several years and the result is a bitter, resentful marriage. We’re guilty of craving fine things and expensive food. Compound this over a few years and we’ve mortgaged our souls to the pursuit of material things. We’re vain and seek glory and recognition for our accomplisments. Compound this over some years and we’ve sown the seeds of resentment and discord amongst our teammates and peers.
The power of compounding.
Similarly, Jesus asks Peter – do you love me – three times. Why does Jesus do that?
It’s likely Jesus is trying to show Peter that he has been forgiven and this undoes Peter’s earlier denial of Jesus (Matt 26:69-75). Peter’s conscience is cleansed and he is forgiven. Peter is the rock on which God builds His Church. As members of His Church, we are also cleansed, when we seek forgiveness for our sins.
Jesus’ repeated questioning, “do you love me” is also a reflection of our commitment to our faith. On a daily basis, Jesus asks us, “do you love me more than these”, of the choices that we make. Do our actions and the decisions we make reflect our love for Him?
Like Peter, we are supposed to answer, “yes” despite the drudgery of our daily grind, the temptations we face and the challenges that can shake our resolve. How do we stay on the course, when a loved one is lying ill and we have no one else to turn to for help? We affirm our love for Him and submit our challenges to His will. How do we say no, to the easy gains gotten from less than scrupulous practices? We pray to Him for strength to walk away from things not worth pursuing.
It is through our daily affirmation of our love for Him, that we gain the strength to walk this narrow path of faith.
“… do you love me more than these… Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (John 21:15)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: we pray for the strength and discipline to affirm to ourselves and to the Lord, daily, our commitment to our faith.
Thanksgiving: we give thanks for the elders in our church who are commissioned to keep us on the straight and narrow path of our faith.
Sat, 11 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 11:21-26;13:1-3; Matthew 10:7-13; Memorial for St Barnabas, Apostle
Sun, 12 Jun – Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13; John 20:19-23; Pentecost Sunday