Summary: If you’re trying to DO ministry without the love of Christ in your heart, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

If you’re trying to DO ministry without the love of Christ in your heart, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Tonight’s passage is one that is specifically for the church and its ministers. It has one great lesson: love is the one basic essential for ministry. Without love, ministry counts for nothing. Paul said it this way: READ 1 COR. 13: 1-3. This passage concerns three questions asked by Jesus.

After the meal on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus focused on Peter and asked:

1. Do you love me more than these?

2. Do you love me with God’s love?

3. Do you love me as a loyal brother?

READ verses 15-17.

The meal was finished. Jesus and the disciples were sitting around talking and sharing together after the meal. Now remember four things:

1. Jesus had already met Peter all alone in a private session to discuss Peter’s denial and to make sure he was fully restored. 1 Cor. 15:5 says specifically that Jesus appeared to Peter.

2. Peter’s leadership needed to be reinforced publicly among all the disciples. They all knew about Peter’s denial.

3. Jesus had to make sure Peter would never deny Him nor fall back from his mission again.

4. Jesus needed to teach the disciples the one basic essential for ministry. None of them, not even a charismatic leader like Peter, could ever minister unless he loved the flock of God.

A person may be the most gifted person in the world, but they are nothing and can do nothing of value in God’s eyes unless they first love. Abilities, talents, gifts, commitments, good deeds, and works don’t make a person acceptable to God. The only thing that makes a person acceptable to God and qualifies that person to serve God is love.

If you want on a committee this next year to show off or to teach others a lesson on how something should REALLY be done in your opinion, that’s the wrong reason. If you don’t love God’s people, you shouldn’t be TRYING to serve.

These are the reasons for what Jesus now did. He turned to Peter, called him by name, and reminded him that he was the son of Jonas. This did two things:

1. It attracted everyone’s attention, stressing that what was to follow was important—more important than usual.

2. It reminded Peter where he had come from. He was of humble beginnings, from a lowly father. All that Peter had become and would become was of God. Peter was nothing apart from Christ and nothing apart from the mission he was about to receive.

This should remind us that we are nothing apart from Christ. I couldn’t do this pastor thing if it wasn’t for Christ. Every one of us needs to realize that whatever capacity in which we serve, it comes from God. You are not doing that job for any other reason. How much more can you do for Christ if you would fully surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus asked three questions. There is a difference between the 3 questions that many times we don’t recognize. Question one asked Peter who he loved the most, the Lord or these. Just what is meant by these is not clear. Jesus could have been pointing to the disciples when He said it. If so, He would have been asking if Peter loved Him more than His friends and family. He could have been pointing to the fish, the nets, and the boat. If so, he would have been asking if Peter loved Him more than his career. I think Scripture is unclear at this point in order to make “these” apply to anything and everything in our lives.

Question two asked Peter if he loved with God’s love. This is seen more clearly in the Greek text and the word for “love.” Jesus used one word and Peter used another. Jesus used the word agape, the highest form of love, the love of God Himself. Peter didn’t reply, “Yes, Lord, I agape you.” He said, “Yes, Lord, I phileo you.” That is, I love you just like a brother; I love you with a brotherly love.” Phileo means brotherly love, the love between two brothers.

Question three probed the genuineness and loyalty of Peter’s love. Here Jesus descended to the human level of love. He used phileo. He asked Peter, “Peter, do you really love me even as a brother?” Questioning the loyalty of his love grieved Peter. But Jesus assured Peter that one day his love would reach the ultimate height. He stressed this in verse 18 which we will start with next study.

Peter would be called upon to demonstrate agape love, the sacrificial love of God. Peter would be called upon to die for Christ, to give his life for preaching the love of God to those who don’t care for it and who react violently against it.

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