We started down the empty beach, away from the others. As we walked, I realized this was the first time we’d been alone since the events of Passover, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you even begin to apologize for doing what I did? I had been thinking about this day for a while, and everything I had planned to say now seemed inadequate.

       Jesus broke the silence, “Simon, do you love me more than these?”

       Simon? He hadn’t called me Simon in years, “More than the others?” I didn’t even know how to answer that. Judas had betrayed him, and most of the others had run, but John was there at the cross. John did what I should have done.

       “No, not more than the others. More than these things?” Jesus waved his hand toward my boat and the lake. “Do you love me more than fishing, more than sunrises on the lake, more than being your own boss? Simon, do you love me more than the life you had?”

       “How can you even ask that? I’ve given up everything for you.”

       “Really, and yet here you are.”

       “I love you, Lord.”

       “Then take care of my lambs.”

       And then he asked me again, “Do you love me, Simon?”

       “Of course, I love you.”

       “Then feed my sheep.”

       Now I was confused. Sheep? Lambs? As long as I had known Jesus, I never knew that he owned sheep.

       “Peter, remember when I first gave you that name? I said you were the rock that I would build my church on. Those who have chosen to follow me will be like sheep who need a shepherd. Are you up for the job? Do you really love me? Do you love me enough to give up the life you love to love and care for my church?”

“Yes, Lord, I love you that much.”

“Then feed my sheep and take care of my lambs. But, understand there will be a price to be paid. Not today and not tomorrow, but there will come a time when you will need to pay the price for following me. And when that time comes, remember the promise you made, that you’d be willing to die for me.” He paused, “Follow me.”

“What about John? Will he need to pay the price as well?”

“John’s fate isn’t your concern. If I want him to remain alive until I return, that’s my business, not yours. I’ve called him to take care of my mother. I’m calling you to take care of my church. Will you follow me?

“Go back, finish your breakfast, and take care of the catch. I will meet you and the other ten at sunrise, a week from today, on the hill outside Bethany. The one you can see from Lazarus’ house.”

And then he just walked away.

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