After they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?' `Yes, Lord,' he answered, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Take care of my lambs.' (verse 15)
How many jobs would there be where the chief qualification is that you love your employer more than you love anyone else? I haven't even heard of baby-sitting jobs where the parents require that degree of devotion.
The question, 'Do you love me more than these?' shows how much Jesus loves his lambs, the vulnerable members of his flock. Jesus places a higher value on personal devotion than on education, training, experience and references from previous employers. Only after Jesus has heard Peter's declaration of love does he give Peter the job of caring for his lambs.
When we think about the way some of Jesus' lambs have been treated by those who were supposed to care for them, we might wish that the main qualification of those carers had been that they love Jesus more than anyone else. But we are not being invited to make that judgment.
Rather, Jesus is asking us if we love him more than we love anyone else. There is no doubt about his love for us.
Dear Jesus, please keep feeding and loving me, so that I may love you above all and may feed well those vulnerable ones you entrust to my care. Amen.