I’m probably going to reveal my ignorance here, but I’ve never really understood why this passage is read as Christ appointing Peter as the leader of His followers. In this conversation I see Jesus reassuring Peter and helping him to adjust his focus, as he often needed to do. He asked him to examine his heart to see what was there. He pointed him to those his heart was always going out to, the lambs he was sent to shepherd.
I guess when I read this, I so easily see myself in Peter’s place. I have need of adjustment so often myself. I need to be reminded to look within, to see where my true devotion lies. I need to be led to examine my affection for Christ, to check my heart to see if I have become shallow in my relationship with him. To see if my love has grown cold or selfish.
I also need the refocusing outward. I need to be reminded to look around me without flinching at the suffering and need that is almost overwhelming. To consider each one I meet as precious, to honor that of God in them. To take the focus off of me, what I need or desire and put it back on those around me whose souls Christ is ever passionately concerned over.
Ultimately, Christ’s direction is to “follow me”. To seek to walk the path of love of God and man that he demonstrated. To examine my heart, to take heed where I walk, how I walk, how I love.