Summary: Does your love and commitment to God mirror His love and commitment to you?
I. Does Your Love For Christ Place Him Above All Others? - v. 15
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me more than these?"
This is Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples following His resurrection. The disciples just witnessed another miraculous event as Christ supplied fish for their catch. Part of the catch was used for breakfast and then Christ began to probe Peter with a pointed question, "lovest thou me more than these?" We must remember that it was Peter who claimed that he would never forsake Christ even if all others might and would even die with Him if need be (Matt. 26:35; Mark 14:27-31). However, when the pressure mounted, Peter denied even knowing Christ. The question refers to this claim of Peter and is meant to show Peter as well as all others that Jesus demands total commitment from His followers. Their love for Him must place Him above their love for all others. Luke 14:26 & 33 state, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
II. When Christ Asks For Commitment/Faithfulness, Do You Respond With Feelings? - vs. 15-16
"Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
To fully understand this passage, the reader must see the difference between Christ’s question and Peter’s response. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He was using a specific word denoting a specific type of love. The word Christ uses in the Greek text is "agapao." This word represents a sacrificial love or total commitment. This type of love embraces as a matter of principle, duty, and propriety. In essence, Jesus was asking Peter if he would sacrifice all and give himself completely for Him. However, notice Peter’s response. Peter replies, "thou knowest that I love thee." This sounds like a positive response, but it is not what Jesus was desiring from Peter. When describing his love, Peter uses a different word. The Greek text states this word as "phileo." This word defined means fondness; to have affection for; a personal attachment; a matter of sentiment or feeling. This often is our response to God. God loves us with a love of total commitment to us, but many times we only seem to love Him when our emotions and feelings allow us. If all is well, then we are all for God. When the chips are down, so is our devotion to Him. Notice, affections are only temporary. One may have strong affections for another, but if that person is let down, then the affections may die. Many are living lives of convienence only. If I feel like it, I’ll attend church. If I feel like it, I’ll visit a little. And we could go on. But Christ calls us to a much higher commitment. Peter responded to Jesus with a word for love that signified his feelings for Him but not necessarily his total commitment. Jesus wanted Peter, as He wants us, to love Him so supremely as to forsake all and to be exclusively devoted to Him.
III. Does Your Service For Christ Mirror the Word of Your Commitment? - v. 17
"And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
Peter was very aware that Jesus knew the intents of his heart, and three times Jesus gave Peter a command to serve. Jesus also knows the intents of our hearts, and He knows where our loyalities lie. The third time Jesus asked Peter, He used Peter’s word for love that signified something less than total devotion, questioning even that level of love Peter thought he was safe in claiming. The lessons driven home to Peter grieved his heart. Christ desires that we learn these same lessons. Are we serving Christ as a loyal, dedicated, totally commited child of God, or do we serve Him only if it is convienent for us to do so? Let us look at our hearts. There may be something to grieve about.
What about it friend? Are you totally devoted to Christ in every area of your life? Could you possibly be a crisis Christian - when the crisis comes then you come to Christ. When the crisis is over, then Christ is no longer needed. Perhaps you are a prosperity Christian? As long as things are going well, you walk with God, but when trials and tribulations occur, your devotion wanes. How about it? Where do you stand? Are you fully devoted to Christ? If not, you can be. If you will be willing to forsake all for Him, God will be willing to give all that He has to you. What about it friend? Why don’t you do it now?