Ministry to others is a source of great joy and of frustration. Our benevolent actions are not always appreciated. Our good intentions are sometimes misunderstood. Our personal sacrifices may go unrecognized and unrewarded. This is the reason we need a tough hide and a tender heart: that we might practice patient ministry for the good of others.
It is nearly impossible for a professional clergy person to truly experience a Sabbath rest. The work of ministry is never-ending – there are always new tasks, new challenges, and new possibilities. Add to this the fact that ministry is never “done” in any tangible sense, and the frustrations mount to unmanageable levels.
The three questions correspond to Peter’s three denials (John 18:17, 25-27). Each time Jesus repeats his question, Peter is reminded of his failure to stand by Jesus in his time of need. Through his questions, Jesus not only confronts Peter with his sin but also provides an opportunity for Peter to recommit his love to him.