Are you aware of the superstition that “things happen in threes?” Usually, this axiom is invoked when bad things are happening, like natural disasters or the deaths of famous people. Psychologists tell us the human brain is always trying to make and see patterns in the world around us. People just have a compelling need to make sense of the seemingly random.
But good things can also come in threes too. I recently read an interesting article about this phenomenon on, of all places, a travel website. Check it out here. The author introduces the following point:
“The rule (or power) of three is an age-old writing technique that implies that things that come in threes are inherently more satisfying and effective to readers. We have a natural, ingrained tendency to gravitate towards and respond positively to things that come in threes. Not only that, but we also tend to remember things in sets of threes.”
The reading for yesterday’s worship, the final passage from the Gospel of John, includes a three-fold pattern where Jesus asks if Peter loves him three times. Jesus then follows each of Peter’s affirmative responses with a similar charge to “feed my sheep.” Commentators are quick to point out that this story immediately connects us back to Jesus’ prediction and Peter’s trio of denials following Jesus’ arrest. “Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” (John 13:38)
Once is just a singular thing, twice might be a coincidence, but three times suggests a pattern to take note of. And repeating this pattern now offers us readers hope. No matter how often we might fall short in the eyes of God and the ones we love, forgiveness comes in equal measure. This isn’t just superstition or coincidence, it’s a pattern in which we can place our trust.
May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray…
Triune God, you are our past, our present, and our future. Help us to stop, look, and listen for you. Deliver to us the faith, hope, and love you offer. Amen.