So 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.” He said to him,“Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Kathy Ormsby was a success story: a dean’s list student at North Carolina State University; a premed major; an All-American distance runner. In April, 1986 she set an American collegiate record for 10,000 meters. She qualified for the NCAA championships in 3000, 5000, and 10,000 meters. She was a celebrity, and everything seemed so right for this twenty-one-year-old junior in college.
But something was dangerously wrong. She was obsessed with winning but felt empty. No matter how much she won. In June, 1986 she began the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA track championships. At 6500 meters, she abruptly quit. She turned and jogged out of the stadium, ran to a bridge two blocks away, and jumped. She fell forty feet onto a flood plain. She was paralyzed from the chest down, and will never run again.
In today’s text, Jesus is restoring Peter from his denial and betrayal of Him. In loving mercy our Lord takes broken, empty people and makes them whole and useful for His purposes. That purpose is to know Him and to glorify Him. Brokenness is defined as being totally subdued; humbled; weakened and infirmed; crushed by grief. It’s not bad to find yourself in that condition; after all . . . God uses broken things.