Often we spend the forty days before Easter focusing on Christ's journey as he sets his face toward Jerusalem and crucifixion. What about the forty days after Easter? Scripture describes a number of Jesus' resurrection appearances including the fact that He appeared to 500 people. (1 Cor. 15:6-7) His resurrection was no delusion by a few ardent disciples. He talked with them, ate and drank with them, showed them His nail scarred hands and wounded side. He taught them, loved them, and prepared them for his Ascension. He prepared them to be His Church on earth.
Fishing, Failure and Reconciliation
One of the most compelling resurrection appearances (John 21:1-17) describes a fishing excursion of Peter and six other disciples. They caught nothing after hours of fishing. Early in the morning Jesus greets them from the shore asking if they caught any fish. They reply, "No" and He tells them "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." They do and are unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John (recognizing Jesus) says, "It is the Lord." Peter jumps into the water and swims to shore. (So eager!) The other disciples follow in the boat, towing the net full of fish.
They have breakfast with Jesus on the shore and Scripture says, "None of the disciples dared ask Him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord." I think they knew it was Jesus, but they were ashamed of their failure - their abandonment of Him after his arrest. And Peter was ashamed of denying Him three times.
The Scripture continues (John 21:15-16)
"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me.
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time He said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
Jesus lovingly questions Peter's commitment and He questions it three times to give Peter the opportunity to affirm his devotion three times - thus erasing the failure in Peter's mind (already erased by the cross).
Peter is identified as the overseer of the church. Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, take care of my sheep - all refer to his being the shepherd entrusted to feed the Word to the sheep - to the Church.
Take time to read and study his Word today and teach it to those in your care.