Do You Love Me? - Reflections 5-1-19

Texts for Sunday May 5, 2019
3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 9:1-20
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19

Do you love me?

That is really one of the main questions of life, isn’t it?

We all have this uncomfortable inkling tucked inside – some deeper than others – that we are not in fact lovable. Some of this discomfort arises from messages we’ve received from others – both strangers and those near to us - telling us what we must be or do to be lovable; often we simply cannot live up to those expectations. Some of it arises because we have failed to be or do what we worked so hard, dreamed so often, to be or do. In so many ways, we are walking wounded through our lives from those rejections and conditions that are a consequence of being loved poorly.

Interesting then, in this story from the Gospel of John, that it is Jesus who turns to Peter and asks him directly “Do you love me?” And he asks it three times. The last time we heard from Peter in the Gospel was when Peter three times denied ever even knowing Jesus as Jesus was being interrogated, beaten, and crucified. And that is after Peter has vowed earlier that evening that he would “Lay down my life for you”. So much for that promise, Peter. Jesus knows that there is more than a mere inkling of being unlovable lurking in Peter. It would seem that he failed the final exam of discipleship.  Imagine the relief and freedom Peter felt after answering those questions and hearing Jesus pulling him back to discipleship.

I believe that humanity was created for relationship with God and each of us has “God-shaped hole” that can only God can fill.  Jesus may ask us “Do you love me?”  But Jesus also says to each of us “You are my beloved.” Besides forgiveness, that is what Peter heard in those three questions. You are my beloved and you are meant to go out and share that with others.

Strolling through the Gospel of John is a character named “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Those of us who are insecure (admit it) cringe at that designation. I didn’t think God chose favorites. But Jesus’ offering of reconciliation to Peter demonstrates great love. On Easter, our pastor, Roger Dykstra, shared that some people understand that strange label to be a way that the author of the Gospel invites and allows us into the stories.  You or me: we are the disciple whom Jesus loved.  I really like that idea. In this story our eyes are cleared and we see New Life on the beach calling us to love and discipleship.

With Peter, you can hear the question “Do you love me?” But also hear then God’s commission to you to feed and tend God’s other beloved sheep.

All of the lessons for this week are full of opportunities for great reflection. Enjoy!

PS: You can read my reflection from 3 years ago on the Revelation text. Revelation lifts my spirit and inspires my imagination.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245