rooster echo in reverse | John 21.15-17
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.” John 21.15-17 | ESV
While they were wiping their mouths following this wondrous breakfast, Jesus turns and says to “I’m the Rock and I’m Listening” (that would be Simon Peter): “Simon John-son, are you truly committed to me – more than all the rest?” The Rock wasted no time looking around at the others – looking at Jesus he says, but without the former bravado, “Yes, Lord, you know I’m with you heart and soul.” Leaning towards him, Jesus intones, “Then feed my wee lambs (odd words for a fisherman!).”
Before Peter can turn away, Jesus challenges him again: “Simon John-son, are you truly committed to me?” The Rock hasn’t looked away and he repeats, “Yes, Lord, you know that I’m with you heart and soul!” Jesus repeats, “Then care for my flock.”
Peter turns away only to be challenged a third time: “Simon John-son, are you truly with me heart and soul?” Rooster echoes, only in reverse. The Rock cracks right down the middle at the verbatim third challenge: “Are you truly with me heart and soul?” and he weeps back, “Lord, you know everything and you know me – you know that I’m with you heart and soul!” Jesus says to him, hands on shoulders, “Then feed my flock.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Peter hears rooster echoes on the beach after breakfast – and I hear echoes of Joseph with his brothers for some reason. Joseph put the brothers who betrayed him, sold him, abandoned him through a bit of a ringer when they met again. He was clearly trying to see what was in their hearts – and one can’t help but wonder how much he was enjoying the whole testing process.
This encounter with the Rock, the friend who had denied him three times in the darkest hour of his life, the friend he had locked eyes with as he did it, both of them then hearing that rooster crow, this encounter is something of a testing process too. And I suspect Jesus also enjoyed it – though I would guess for different reasons.
This wasn’t so much a test so Jesus could see what was there (pretty sure he already knew that), but one for Peter’s eyes. We would probably have glossed over this. That was then, this is now. No harm, no foul. We would have been nice. Or we would have never trusted such a friend again and wouldn’t be caught dead (again!) eating breakfast with him.
But Jesus didn’t leave it or him alone.
Jesus meets us on the shore of our most bitter memories and gives us not a piece of his mind, but a piece of bread, and then gently teases out of us what we most need to process and see. And his timing is impeccable.
He’s the Master, yes?
We could learn a few things, if we would.
Notice Jesus doesn’t have this conversation the first time Jesus pops into the room, or the second. It has perhaps been two weeks since the hue of everything has changed because of resurrection. But it hasn’t changed for Peter. The shadows of his soul must be drawn into the light – and this is his moment.
Peter could have been grappling with his guilt through the years, trying to cope and process through counseling – which is often what we have to do – and who knows, maybe he still did! But oh the timing and the touch of the Master in resetting the broken bone, in healing the cracked Rock through persevering presence and timely word.
How has Jesus met you on the shores of your own bitter memories? Or is he, perhaps, with broiled fish and baked bread, waiting for you to show?
Lord, a gentle word can break a bone – or heal it! Let me trust your words for me on the shores of my own darkened memories, and let me receive them like the warm bread you would place into my hands there. Through your mercies.