Seen in the light of the overall context, Jesus is actually challenging the overzealousness, the mission-orientation, the task-centeredness of Peter’s ego and his male, human drive to succeed. Jesus says, essentially, “Do you really love me like a friend?” The implication is, “If you’re willing to do anything, why do you seem so much less enthusiastic when I tell you what I want? My true friend wouldn’t hesitate to do a simle chore like what I’m asking.”
This third time, Peter is openly grieved, at least partly because he’s been challenged, but perhaps also partly because he still doesn’t get it. ((Of course we all struggle here, and in some ways I think the male ego struggles especially.)) So the Lord goes on to explain what he means when he asks for a favor... for service…. for Mission… for being his loyal, right hand man… for someone to be his Friend. Of course, this is the crux of the story, and the part that requires no special reinterpretation whatsoever.
Stretch out your arms. Go where you don’t want to go. Die… like I did. (Oh. Lord…)
Do you still love me like a friend, Peter? Are you still my right hand man, Peter? Are you still willing to do what I ask, when you aren't personally thrilled about what I want you to do? And after one of those moments with the Lord, what can any of us say?
That's the climax of the story and the point of the scripture. Now give me one more brief post to wrap up the point of my series, and summarize what I've been saying.
(To be summarized…)
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