Summary: Jesus asks Peter this question three times. It is the only time in scripture where Jesus asks anyone, "Do you love me?" It is an important question that determines our ultimate destiny.
Do You Love Me?
What are some things that you love? How does your love of these compare with your love for Jesus Christ?
There’s a song in our songbook that goes: “The things that I love and hold dear to my heart are just borrowed they’re not mine at all. Jesus only let me use them to brighten my life, so remind me, remind me dear Lord. Roll back the curtain of memory now and then, show me where you brought me from, and where I could have been. Remember, I’m human and humans forget, so remind me, remind me dear Lord.”
I think of another song I heard that says: “Feelings for the moment, they come and then their gone. Lines show signs of frailty to the face that once was strong. Diamonds don’t shine bright enough to satisfy your soul, and foolish are the ones who chase treasures wrapped in gold. Why do we waste one day in search of things that slip away, when all that really matters is you, Lord, all that really matters is you! It’s so easy to live for unimportant things, to lose sight of heaven as we chase our man made dreams. Lord, free us to focus on what live really means and teach us to look past unimportant things.”
This week, looking past unimportant things was brought home to me. Everyone knows that our economy has tanked over the past several months; last year I noticed my IRA funds were doing a kamikaze. I decided to take matters into my own hands and moved all of my IRA mutual funds into a Scott Trade account where I could choose my own financial death if I wanted to.
As the Lord would have it, I invested heavily into financial sector in June of last year when they were very low (banks were going bankrupt left and right, remember?). Anyway, it was a good choice, as these actually have recovered quite well in the past seven months or so. My IRA was climbing nicely. I began to think that I must be a financial genius of sorts. That is, until this past week. (I’m glad I didn’t quit my day job). Noticing several weeks ago that the financials were going flat I decided to move most of my funds into one basket: China. I choose to purchase stock in a Chinese aluminum company with the designation “ACH.” I noticed it had been climbing and had a good history and good evaluations by the so called experts.
I bought it, and right afterward and for about the next four or five weeks, it steadily went down in value. When I had lost 5% of our retirement investment, I panicked and sold it all. That was January 4. On January 5, ACH climbed 7% in a single day and over the next three days it climbed over 17% as commodities rose. Of course all I could do was watch and wish I had not sold that stock, and also thank the Lord for a good lesson in money management and an important reminder of where my love and hope belong.
1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19.
John 21 is understood by many commentators as the restoration of Peter.
Three times Jesus asks Peter a question. In Greek there is a slight variation in the word love from “agapaw” to “philew.” Some have stressed this difference in word use, indicating that Jesus lowers his love standards for Peter in the last question. Perhaps.
But it is clear that there is also a greater message here.
Before Peter denied Jesus he boldly contradicted the Lord’s own words. Jesus had stated plainly: “All of you will fall away on account of me, but after I am raised I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter responded: “Even if all fall away, I will not!” To which Jesus said, “Today, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter was indignant: “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you!”
What was Peter declaring to Jesus? Lord, even if all fall away, I love you more than that! I love you so much I will die with you. I love you too much to ever deny you! Peter was boldly, if inappropriately, confessing his loyalty and love for Jesus, a love that Peter confidently asserted was greater than that of the rest. “Even if all fall away... I will not!”
That was before the arrest. That was before Jesus commanded Peter to put up his sword and rebuked him saying, “All who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Instead, Jesus accepted the injustice and abuse poured out on himself as a cup given to him by God. And it was. But Peter, who was willing to die fighting for Jesus, was not ready to simply sacrificially die for Jesus without trying to take others out in the process. Peter was not ready to go down without a battle. That was something beyond Peter’s world view. He just couldn’t see any nobility or honor in such a sacrifice. That is, not yet. Later he understood. Later he will even encourage others to follow Jesus’ example. In fact, much of 1 Peter is about following Jesus Christ’s example in suffering.