Peter and company are taken through a process before being appointed shepherds to feed the lambs and sheep. First their sinking spirit is brought up. They were disappointed, desperate and tired. They wasted a night and its sleep and caught not a single fish. Jesus gives them the catch of their life and boosts up their spirit. Secondly, they were woken up to the awareness of who they were and to what vocation they were called to. At an earlier seashore experience, they were made fishers of men, which apparently they have forgotten. Gently they were reminded. Third, they were hungry and needed nourishing. They enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast which included also the fruit of their own labor. Now they are refreshed, rejuvenated and are in a mood to listen, think and act and there begins the most difficult part of the ‘commissioning’.
Peter, and in all probability all others, are invited to a confession or an oath of office! It is not a confession of sins, but one deeper and more profound than the confession of sin.
“Do you love me?”
A question we directly or indirectly try to search and find of those whom we love. I believe, words alone will not satiate our thirst, curiosity or anxiety in this regard. Expressions of love could be multi-faceted and varied. In certain cases the affirmation of love should precede repentance and forgiveness.
It was on one such occasion earlier that Peter realized his unworthiness to be near to the Lord and so asked the Lord to depart from him (Luke 5:8). Jesus knew that Peter loved him more and deeper than the other disciples. Still Jesus questioned him, first to affirm and recognize Peter’s love, second to teach and confirm that the essential and only qualification for discipleship and for being the shepherds for Christ was LOVE, which was the only commandment of Jesus; needless to say,
‘as Jesus loved them and us’.
Thus we find four parts in the ordination ceremony of the disciples: they were ordained to ministerial priesthood by the washing of their feet by Jesus; secondly, after the resurrection Jesus breathed on them to anoint them with the gift of the Holy Spirit; thirdly, now on the sea-shore taking the oath of love and commissioning. The final part will be at the Ascension site when Jesus will send them to the ends of the earth to proclaim, to teach, to witness and to baptize, to break down and to build up! Let us be aware that we too are the recipients of this privilege of discipleship!