Awkward conversations occur often. You round a corner in a bookstore and bump into an ex-boyfriend—who introduces you to his new girlfriend. You sit next to an acquaintance at a dinner party who asks about your political leanings. Your mom asks why you and your spouse haven’t had a baby yet. We’ve all been there; we probably looked for the nearest exit.
On the shore of the Sea of Tiberius, Simon Peter has no exit. Breakfast is over, and Jesus looks at him. He calls him by his old name and asks if he loves him. What a perfect opportunity for redemption! Peter responds quickly and well, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus gives him instructions. Peter must breathe a sigh of relief. His denial slips farther into the past.
Jesus asks him the same question again. Maybe Peter shifts uncomfortably. Perhaps the other disciples excuse themselves to wash dishes. Does Jesus need proof of his love? He answers the same, and Jesus gives him more instructions.
When Jesus asks the third time, it’s enough to make the grown man visibly sad. Jesus still does not call him by his new name, and he asks the same question over and over. The conversation turns awkward in its repetition. Does Jesus not believe his sincerity?
The third time, Jesus goes into more detail. He describes the future. Jesus and Peter need this conversation so Jesus can tell him what lies ahead.
We go through “awkward stages” of physical and emotional development. They are not always pleasant, but they are necessary. These stages and conversations help to shape and form us into caregivers of one another in God’s kingdom.
Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you. May all my experiences fashion me into your servant. Amen.