Summary: This Sermon is #13 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
The Trial of Peter’s love to Christ.
John xxi. 15, 16, 17.
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas. lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again again a second time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him. Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him. Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he said to him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him. Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep."
"THIS was the third time that Jesus shewed himself to the disciples after he was risen from the dead." But it was not the last time. "He often shewed himself alive: after his passion, being seen of them for forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Once he appeared to a Christian assembly--"was seen by above five hundred brethren" at the same time. When he had given to his disciples those infallible proofs of his resurrection, and those instructions, which their work required, "while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."
THIS visit was made to a part of the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; whither they had retired after the crucifixion; but whether to follow their former occupation, or in expectation of meeting there the risen Savior, who had promised to manifest himself to them in Galilee, we are not informed. They were however engaged in fishing, when after the fruitless labors of a night, they saw Jesus in the morning standing on the shore.
GOD looks favorably on his people when he sees them employed in honest secular business; and sometimes manifests himself to them.
THIS was a kind instructive visit, to these disciples; especially to Peter. Peter was of a bold, forward disposition, naturally eager and confident, and so strongly attached to his Lord, that he thought nothing could separate him from him--neither allurements, nor terrors. Therefore when Christ warned his family of his approaching sufferings, and the effect which they would have on them--that "they would be offended because of him--yea be scattered from him and leave him alone:" Peter did not believe him! He had such love to Christ, and felt so determined to adhere to him, in all extremities, that he dared to declare, "Though all shall be offended, yet will not I." And when his Lord, assured him that he would thrice deny him that very night,he was not convinced. It only served to draw from him a more vehement and positive assertion, "If I should die with thee I will not deny thee in any wise." But he soon found his mistake. Three times, before the next morning dawned, did he deny his Savior--with oaths and imprecations did he deny him!
THIS sinner was soon renewed by repentance. And one design of Christ’s visit at this time, seems to have been to assure the penitent, that his sin, in "denying the Lord who bought him," was pardoned, and that he was confirmed in the office to which he had been previously called. But the manner in which this was done carried in it a reproof, which must have called his sin to remembrance, causing his soul to be humbled in him. Let us turn our attention to the subject.
_IN the text we see Christ questioning Peter, and trying his love --Peter appealing to Christ for the reality of it--and Christ directing Peter how to manifest his love to him--by feeding his flock_.
I. WE see Christ questioning Peter and trying his love. _Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these_?
SIMON was the original name of this apostle. Cephas and Peter, which signify a rock, or stone, were names given him of Christ, expressive of that firmness of character, for which he was remarkable. These though commonly used, after they were given him, were omitted on this occasion; probably as a tacit reproof of his denial of his Lord, a little before; which had been occasioned by the failure of his courage--by the deficiency of his firmness.
THE manner in which his divine master, here addressed this disciple, seemed to imply a doubt of his love; or of the supremacy of it. CHRIST knew the heart. Peter’s love was not hidden from him. But while he dwelt with men, he treated people according to their apparent characters; thereby setting an example to his followers who can judge others only by appearances or that which is external.