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Summary: Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus asks Peter is he truly loved him. Jesus may need to ask us the same thing. Peter didn't love Jesus as much as he thought he did. Do we love Jesus as much as we think we do?

“DO YOU LOVE ME?”

John 21:15-23

1) “Do you love me?” (15-17). The charcoal fire connection in 21:9. It is interesting that the Greek word for charcoal fire is found in only two places in the New Testament. Here in this story where Jesus is cooking fish for the disciple’s breakfast, and the other is when Peter stood warming himself after the arrest of Jesus in the courtyard. It was there that Peter denied the Lord and saw Jesus look at him as the rooster crowed. As Peter smelled the charcoal fire on the shore this day, it no doubt took him back to that shame filled moment in the courtyard. Vs. 15. “Do you love me more than these?” What did Jesus mean by more than these? These things (fishing equipment and therefore [‘do you love me more than your livelihood’?]). Do we love Jesus more than we love our job? Are we more devoted to our Lord or our work/boss? Do we love Jesus more than our possessions? To which are we more devoted? Do we love Jesus more than we love money? Which do we pursue more? Jesus could’ve also meant, ‘Do you love me more than you love these other men’? And therefore [‘do you love me more than you do anyone else in your life’?] Is Jesus first; is he the priority in our life? Or do we put the desires of others before the desires of Jesus? Do we compromise the will of Christ for the sake of pleasing someone else? A third option for what it means is, ‘Do you love me more than these other men do’? Peter had claimed devotion above the other disciples. When Jesus was with his disciples at the Last Supper, he told them that they would all fall away, which they did when he was arrested; they all scattered and ran away. But Peter confidently declared in Matt. 26:33, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Peter thought he had an uncompromising love for Jesus. So much so that he didn’t even believe Jesus himself when he told him he would later disown him. But unfortunately, Peter would be the one to deny knowing Jesus. Peter had failed, but the good news was that Jesus wasn’t done with him. Jesus loved Peter so much that even though he denied knowing him, he was willing to forgive Peter and welcome him back. Jesus not only forgave and reinstated Peter he gave him the huge responsibility of taking care of Jesus’ precious lambs and sheep. Jesus was basically telling Peter, “Let’s move on; the past is the past-learn from it and let go of it.” We have a problem of reliving our past mistakes and it causes us to not be able to move forward. Jesus wants us to know that when we mess-up miserably we can turn back and start anew. That’s the love that Jesus has for us. Our English translation in the three questions is inferior to the Greek rendering. Jesus uses the verb agape, which signifies to love wholeheartedly; and Peter replies using the verb fileo, which signifies to have regard for, to feel friendship for another. It’s as if Jesus is asking, “Do you truly love me; do you have supreme, uncompromising love for me Peter?” And Peter can only reply with, “Lord, I have affection for you, brotherly love for you but after what I’ve done I dare not say I have the highest form of love for you.” It makes sense since he doesn’t repeat the more than these in his reply. Peter simply says, ‘you know that I love you’ and not, ‘you know that I love you more than they do’. We might have the problem of thinking we love Jesus more than other people do. Jesus may need to humble us like he did Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to understand the truest essence of love. The kind of love that could only have been shown by God. Jesus had shown Peter agape love. He wanted Peter to understand that he didn’t possess the same level of love. We know what supreme love loves like because of Jesus’s example of sacrificial love. We will be challenged as to what level our love for him is. Do you truly love Jesus?

2) “Then do my will”. “Feed my lambs/take care of my sheep/feed my sheep”. Jesus was calling Peter to take care of the church. He was to feed them the word and watch over and protect them. Ministers today have the same challenge and responsibility. If we say we love Jesus then we are to show it by being faithful in feeding and caring for the flock. But what if you’re not a minister? What does this mean for you? The message is basically the same. Do you love Jesus? Then show it by obedience. Show it by doing his will. Show it by your willingness to fulfill his purpose for your life. Jesus asked Peter three times if he truly loved him. Peter had denied Christ three times and Jesus was challenging Peter’s love for him. When Peter answered yes, I love you, Jesus responded with, ‘then do this’. He says the same to us. Derrick, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you’. ‘Then do this-then obey me’. Jesus said in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one that loves me.” It’s like Jesus is saying, “The evidence of your love for me will be seen in your obedience to what I tell you to do. If you love me then show it.” Peter did that very thing. Soon after this encounter Peter possessed agape love for Jesus. Peter didn’t just say he loved Jesus, he showed it. He boldly proclaimed the gospel at Pentecost. He was a strong leader of the newly established Christian church in Jerusalem. He was willing to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ. So it is with us. We can say we love Jesus all we want but since love is an action word we have to determine if we are showing that love for Jesus which we claim. You know, I love my wife, Beth. I don’t talk to her very much, but I love her. She tries to talk to me but I don’t let her; I just want her to listen to me. When I do talk to her it’s usually only when I want something from her. Sometimes she wants things from me but I don’t bother with that. I really never think about her during the week, except for Sunday mornings, but I love her. She’s not a big part of my life. She tries to be but I don’t want her to be. She tries to get close to me but I don’t want her getting too close to me, but I do love her. I don’t tell other people I love her. In fact, I don’t even tell anyone else I’m married. I’ll even take off my wedding ring when I go out in public ‘cause I really don’t want anyone to see it-they might say something about it or ask me questions. Sometimes I don’t act like I’m married. But make no mistake about it-I love my wife. What, you don’t believe me? Does this describe your relationship with Jesus? It’s not easy to examine ourselves. It’s difficult to think we don’t love Jesus as much as we think we do. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Christ’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him.” Peter had a humbling experience. He knew he loved Jesus but he knew he didn’t love him as much as he once thought he did. If we examined our actions would they line up with our claims?

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