The elephant in the room


We have four children. When they were “young children” we had to be careful with one. Any mischief worth a telling-off had to be done as lightly as a feather duster (the others not so much!).

Whatever we said, this one would spin the dial and amplify – beyond recognition – our words. Keeping their dial at the lowest setting was intuitive – but a conscious act each time. Always a lower setting than with the rest of our more thick-skinned brood.

As I read the verses this morning – hot-headed Simon Peter, the firebrand, the volatile one – our young children came to mind – and that memory.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-19

And one sentence is particular: “Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time … “

We all use this “I love you” phrase to our nearest and dearest. We hope they will use the same phrase to us. There is an etiquette: “I love you” and “I love you too”. A balance. Reassuring.

“Do you love me” has an etiquette also – “Yes, Lord: you know that I love you” – acknowledged with “Good on yer, pet – feed my lambs”. A balance. Reassuring.

But a second time? Out of balance.

And now a third time? And the dial spun to the max: “Lord, you know EVERYTHING; you KNOW that I love you.”?

I have heard sermons preached on these verses: three times denied, three times asked. I am guessing you too have heard the sermons and read the verses. The context, the subtext, the subtleties, the big picture. All of that stuff connects – makes sense.

But what touches me is the humanity. It is GHSJ’s humanity that touches me.

How He does the heavy lifting always. How He does the heavy lifting so we don’t have to. How He does the heavy lifting so we are always safe. How He grasps “the issue”, how He points to “the issue”, how He embraces “the issue” – how He stands next to the “elephant in the room” – and then strokes it so tenderly.

A memory prompted. A story entwined. A chance meeting. An intuition and action explained at a later point. A conversation unconnected but oh-so-connected! A simple “yes” – a simple “no” – a simple “nothing at all”. And here in these verses: “Do you love me” x three … and ever since, sermons are preached, books are written – along with the occasional blog!

Peter felt hurt – but Peter felt safe. So Peter drew closer.

What a masterclass!

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Postscript: I thought the title sounded familiar, and searched back through the “blog catalogue” and realised why.

26th April 2014
“Elephants in the room”
https://justmebeingcurious.com/2014/04/26/elephants-in-the-room/

A memory prompted. A story entwined. A chance meeting. An intuition and action explained at a later point. A conversation unconnected but oh-so-connected! A simple “yes” – a simple “no” – a simple “nothing at all”.

Maybe?

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