Simon Peter, Do You Love Me Than These?
John 21:15-17 NIV15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.
What we see here is a question Jesus asked Peter three consecutive times—a question that should get the attention of every serious Christian.
Throughout the Four Gospels, we happen to spot a disciple, Peter, who was so expressive when it comes to his love for the Lord. He went wherever Jesus went and was one of the closest to Jesus (alongside John the beloved).
We even see in a subsequent narrative that Peter was ready to kill all the soldiers who were sent to arrest Jesus—just to prove how much he loved his Master. He already cut off a soldier's ear even before Jesus said a word. But Jesus doesn't say we can love Him "anyhow."
Right before His crucifixion, the Lord asked Peter:
- "Do you love me more than these [other disciples]?"
- "Simon Peter, do you love me?"
- "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
And it happened that whenever Peter responded, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," the response that followed from the Lord was, "If you love me, feed my sheep."
The emphasis Jesus placed on this question (and His further responses that accompanied that of Peter) was purposed to make us understand one thing: there are things the Lord recommends we should do as a proof of our love for Him.
Almost every Christian believes and professes that they love God. But it's easier to say we love someone than to actually go ahead and prove that we love to that person. Actions speak louder than words. Talk is cheap—Jesus is not after lip service.
Also, we cannot love God according to our specifications. Jesus has His own specifications and instructions on how we should go about loving Him. He knows best when it comes to how we should love Him, and He does let us know the 'how' in His Word. It is our responsibility to simply follow.
If You Love Me, Feed My Sheep
While we do not have the Lord physically with us, He lets us know the best way we can show that we love Him—"Feed My Sheep!"
As Christians, we must understand how much souls matter to Jesus. If He died for them, that alone should tell us how much they mean to Him. While Jesus walked the earth, His daily affair was to minister to the lost and lead many to righteousness. His daily bread was reconciling the lost to the Father. His food was to do the work of Him who sent Him (John 4:34).
We can't say we love Jesus and not value the things He value. We can't say we love God and not prioritise feeding His sheep. The Church is in dire need of sound teaching—as many are being led astray and off the narrow path. As ministers of the Gospel, we can't say we love God but keep mute in a time like this! Like Paul, we should say, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" - 1 Corinthians 9:16.
The essence of walking with God is to eventually get to a place we can start working for Him. Only by so doing we will prove our walk with Him is not in vain. The disciples walked with the Lord and were later commissioned into service for God: "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all Nations" (Matthew 28:19-20).
We cannot afford to be Christians who are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth—even at a time when we should to be teachers of the Word. At a time when we are suppose to disciple other saints and bring them to bring them to maturity in Christ, we cannot afford to still need milk of the Word. God's training and equipping is meant to make us fit for the Master's use (2 Timothy 2:21).
We do not have Jesus physically with us that we'd say we would buy Him clothes, shoes, give Him money and feed Him. But we have people living with us. And Jesus said, "As long as you do it to these ones, you do it to Me."
Matthew 25:34-40 NIVThen the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
According to Jesus, the evidence of our love for Him is in our selfless ministry to people. Faith without works is dead. We cannot say we love God and be ashamed to tell others about Him. Such love is clearly not genuine. We cannot say we love God and withhold good from people when it is in our power to do it.
Evangelism is the heartbeat of Jesus. He ministered to people both spiritually and materially—after each sermon, Jesus sat the people down and fed them physical food. And He said, "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." (John 20:21).
If we say we love Jesus, we should do the works He did—we should feed His sheep. According to Him, that is the right way to love Him—that is the condition. This is His instruction and specification on how we should go about expressing our love for Him.
Thank You Lord Jesus for expressing your thoughts to me today concerning how I am supposed to love you. Thank you for letting me know what to prioritise when it comes to expressing my love for You. Help me to love You just the way you want to be loved. Help me to value the things you value. Give me zeal for service—for sharing the Word and telling other about You. Amen.
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