When they had finished breakfast, and while the others sat by the fire, Jesus beckoned to Peter and to John that they should come with him for a stroll on the beach. As they walked along, Jesus said to John, “John, do you love me?” And when John answered, “Yes, Master, with all my heart,” the Master said: “Then, John, give up your intolerance and learn to love men as I have loved you. Devote your life to proving that love is the greatest thing in the world. It is the love of God that impels men to seek salvation. Love is the ancestor of all spiritual goodness, the essence of the true and the beautiful.”
Jesus then turned toward Peter and asked, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answered, “Lord, you know I love you with all my soul.” Then said Jesus: “If you love me, Peter, feed my lambs. Do not neglect to minister to the weak, the poor, and the young. Preach the gospel without fear or favor; remember always that God is no respecter of persons. Serve your fellow men even as I have served you; forgive your fellow mortals even as I have forgiven you. Let experience teach you the value of meditation and the power of intelligent reflection.”
After they had walked along a little farther, the Master turned to Peter and asked, “Peter, do you really love me?” And then said Simon, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And again said Jesus: “Then take good care of my sheep. Be a good and a true shepherd to the flock. Betray not their confidence in you. Be not taken by surprise at the enemy’s hand. Be on guard at all times—watch and pray.”
When they had gone a few steps farther, Jesus turned to Peter and, for the third time, asked, “Peter, do you truly love me?” And then Peter, being slightly grieved at the Master’s seeming distrust of him, said with considerable feeling, “Lord, you know all things, and therefore do you know that I really and truly love you.” Then said Jesus: “Feed my sheep. Do not forsake the flock. Be an example and an inspiration to all your fellow shepherds. Love the flock as I have loved you and devote yourself to their welfare even as I have devoted my life to your welfare. And follow after me even to the end.”
Peter took this last statement literally—that he should continue to follow after him—and turning to Jesus, he pointed to John, asking, “If I follow on after you, what shall this man do?” And then, perceiving that Peter had misunderstood his words, Jesus said: “Peter, be not concerned about what your brethren shall do. If I will that John should tarry after you are gone, even until I come back, what is that to you? Only make sure that you follow me.”
This remark spread among the brethren and was received as a statement by Jesus to the effect that John would not die before the Master returned, as many thought and hoped, to establish the kingdom in power and glory. It was this interpretation of what Jesus said that had much to do with getting Simon Zelotes back into service, and keeping him at work.
When they returned to the others, Jesus went for a walk and talk with Andrew and James. When they had gone a short distance, Jesus said to Andrew, “Andrew, do you trust me?” And when the former chief of the apostles heard Jesus ask such a question, he stood still and answered, “Yes, Master, of a certainty I trust you, and you know that I do.” Then said Jesus: “Andrew, if you trust me, trust your brethren more—even Peter. I once trusted you with the leadership of your brethren. Now must you trust others as I leave you to go to the Father. When your brethren begin to scatter abroad because of bitter persecutions, be a considerate and wise counselor to James my brother in the flesh when they put heavy burdens upon him which he is not qualified by experience to bear. And then go on trusting, for I will not fail you. When you are through on earth, you shall come to me.”
Then Jesus turned to James, asking, “James, do you trust me?” And of course James replied, “Yes, Master, I trust you with all my heart.” Then said Jesus: “James, if you trust me more, you will be less impatient with your brethren. If you will trust me, it will help you to be kind to the brotherhood of believers. Learn to weigh the consequences of your sayings and your doings. Remember that the reaping is in accordance with the sowing. Pray for tranquillity of spirit and cultivate patience. These graces, with living faith, shall sustain you when the hour comes to drink the cup of sacrifice. But never be dismayed; when you are through on earth, you shall also come to be with me.”
Jesus next talked with Thomas and Nathaniel. Said he to Thomas, “Thomas, do you serve me?” Thomas replied, “Yes, Lord, I serve you now and always.” Then said Jesus: “If you would serve me, serve my brethren in the flesh even as I have served you. And be not weary in this well-doing but persevere as one who has been ordained by God for this service of love. When you have finished your service with me on earth, you shall serve with me in glory. Thomas, you must cease doubting; you must grow in faith and the knowledge of truth. Believe in God like a child but cease to act so childishly. Have courage; be strong in faith and mighty in the kingdom of God.”
Then said the Master to Nathaniel, “Nathaniel, do you serve me?” And the apostle answered, “Yes, Master, and with an undivided affection.” Then said Jesus: “If, therefore, you serve me with a whole heart, make sure that you are devoted to the welfare of my brethren on earth with tireless affection. Admix friendship with your counsel and add love to your philosophy. Serve your fellow men even as I have served you. Be faithful to men as I have watched over you. Be less critical; expect less of some men and thereby lessen the extent of your disappointment. And when the work down here is over, you shall serve with me on high.”
After this the Master talked with Matthew and Philip. To Philip he said, “Philip, do you obey me?” Philip answered, “Yes, Lord, I will obey you even with my life.” Then said Jesus: “If you would obey me, go then into the lands of the gentiles and proclaim this gospel. The prophets have told you that to obey is better than to sacrifice. By faith have you become a God-knowing kingdom son. There is but one law to obey—that is the command to go forth proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Cease to fear men; be unafraid to preach the good news of eternal life to your fellows who languish in darkness and hunger for the light of truth. No more, Philip, shall you busy yourself with money and goods. You now are free to preach the glad tidings just as are your brethren. And I will go before you and be with you even to the end.”
And then, speaking to Matthew, the Master asked, “Matthew, do you have it in your heart to obey me?” Matthew answered, “Yes, Lord, I am fully dedicated to doing your will.” Then said the Master: “Matthew, if you would obey me, go forth to teach all peoples this gospel of the kingdom. No longer will you serve your brethren the material things of life; henceforth you are also to proclaim the good news of spiritual salvation. From now on have an eye single only to obeying your commission to preach this gospel of the Father’s kingdom. As I have done the Father’s will on earth, so shall you fulfill the divine commission. Remember, both Jew and gentile are your brethren. Fear no man when you proclaim the saving truths of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. And where I go, you shall presently come.”
Then he walked and talked with the Alpheus twins, James and Judas, and speaking to both of them, he asked, “James and Judas, do you believe in me?” And when they both answered, “Yes, Master, we do believe,” he said: “I will soon leave you. You see that I have already left you in the flesh. I tarry only a short time in this form before I go to my Father. You believe in me—you are my apostles, and you always will be. Go on believing and remembering your association with me, when I am gone, and after you have, perchance, returned to the work you used to do before you came to live with me. Never allow a change in your outward work to influence your allegiance. Have faith in God to the end of your days on earth. Never forget that, when you are a faith son of God, all upright work of the realm is sacred. Nothing which a son of God does can be common. Do your work, therefore, from this time on, as for God. And when you are through on this world, I have other and better worlds where you shall likewise work for me. And in all of this work, on this world and on other worlds, I will work with you, and my spirit shall dwell within you.”
It was almost ten o’clock when Jesus returned from his visit with the Alpheus twins, and as he left the apostles, he said: “Farewell, until I meet you all on the mount of your ordination tomorrow at noontime.” When he had thus spoken, he vanished from their sight.