Today’s reading: John 21
The Church often emphasizes The Great Commission, where Jesus calls his disciples to go forth to all the nations to spread the good news and make disciples as Jesus’ final and most important directive (Matt 25:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:45-46). However, Jesus’ final and most important command can be found in the final directive of John and of all the gospels: The Great Compassion. Jesus shows us his love by providing and caring for us, and in return, we are to show our love for him by tending his sheep.
We prepare ourselves for Good Friday with the last chapter in the gospel of John, when Jesus blows the minds of some chosen disciples by providing fish for them. Jesus then asks Peter three times if he loves him. When Peter responds affirmatively, Jesus commands Peter to tend his sheep each time. This account at the end of the gospel of John distinctively differs from the first three gospels that emphasize The Great Commission. Instead of giving the command that generations of Christians have used as the justification to subjugate native cultures and religions, and disrupt economies, Jesus provides food and livelihood for his disciples, calls them to love him, and to love and tend his sheep. And who are his sheep? The poor, the downtrodden, the widows, the needy. But his modern day sheep also include the dreamer whose fate is uncertain, the refugee with no safe haven, the rape survivor who is dismissed, the queer young person who is rejected by their family and forced into homelessness, the transwoman of color who risks her life everyday by existing, and the black man who lives in fear of police violence.
We have spent this Lenten season looking inward with reflection. Let us end the season by responding to Jesus’ call for The Great Compassion by looking forward and outward. Let us show our love for Jesus by tending his sheep. He has commissioned us to be moved by love to take action in caring for, protecting, and fighting for those who have been marginalized. Let us heed his final and most important directive to love loudly.
“The moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.”
– bell hooks
Created by: Serena Cerezo Poon
About the author: Serena is a Bay Area girl with a side of NYC attitude. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her wife Melissa and their baby and two pups. She works in finance by day and does her best to bring the queer and Christian communities together by night.
Image by: Sheri Park
About the artist: Sheri Park is an interdisciplinary visual artist, with a focus on video & performance. She completed her undergraduate degree from Union College in 2013, and her Certificate in Theology and Art from Fuller Seminary in 2015. When she’s not making art or at her graphic design job, she enjoys making breakfast, reading, and watching ducks by the lake with her husband in Fremont, California.