This is one of the great “reconciliation” passages in the Bible. It was written nearly one hundred years after Jesus, at a time when the Christ-followers were divided between those who believed they needed to follow Jesus from a Jewish culture, and those who practiced the teachings of Jesus but had no wish to be Jewish. This passage seems address this bitter disagreement by reminding the readers that the way of Jesus demands reconciliation.
The three-fold question of Jesus to Peter serves to remind him of his boast that he would never fail Jesus (Matt 26:31-33). This moment allows Peter to undo his three-fold denial of Jesus. While Peter’s denial of Jesus was a bitter betrayal by a best friend, Jesus sets the example: he makes the first move towards healing the rift.
John’s account challenges every generation of Christians to live the way of peace-making and reconciliation. Whether it was the first century community divided by the practice of Jewish culture, or today’s contemporary Christian world divided by issues such as homosexuality, and the way we read the Bible – the expectation of Jesus remains the same: reach out to the one who has insulted / failed / deserted you and make peace. Think of one person who is estranged to you and make it your New Year’s intention to reconcile with them.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be the first to stretch out my hand to that person who has hurt me. And may your peace guide our healing. Amen
Third Sunday after Epiphany
(Scripture reference page 65 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)