As children growing up, we got annoyed when our parents would ask us to do something more than once, right? “Take out the trash”, “Clean your room” was asked multiple times. When I became a parent, I also realized that it would take more than one time asking to get the task accomplished. Why? A few reasons. Because as children, we lose focus easily, we don’t want to do what we don’t want to do, we don’t see the reason behind it or the urgency for it. So, we put off the task until we absolutely have to do it.
Our final passage in John has always been interesting to me. On the surface, the words might appear as if Jesus is “nagging” Peter, as a parent would nag their kids about how much he loves Him. Consider this. Adamant, quick tempered, reckless, shoot from the hip, loving but disobedient at times, Simon Peter is being brought forward from the other disciples for a face to face, eye to eye, conversation with The Master, Jesus Christ. Jesus is focused on Peter alone. Only Peter must answer, “Do you love Me?” But why three times?
Peter was the one who said he would die with Christ earlier, before Jesus was crucified. But Peter, as Jesus predicted, denied Jesus three times when pushed into a corner of admission and fear, “I do not know Him!” Was this Jesus way of bringing him to repentance for his disobedience? Maybe it goes even deeper than that. Jesus forgave Peter and then, as the Master Teacher Jesus is, taught Peter about love and trust.
Each time Jesus asks, “do you love me” He builds a foundation in Peter that will support Peter in later ministry for Jesus. Remember that Jesus earlier in his ministry on earth told Peter that he would be “the rock upon which I will build my church”. (Matthew 16:18) Consider then the first question, “do you love me more than these?” Jesus is getting his normally unfocused Peter to focus solely on Him. Could Jesus be really telling Peter to love Him first, realizing fully how much He loves Peter? Then Jesus follows with “Feed my lambs.” Introduce My Love to those who are young and need to know my love for them.
When Jesus asks Peter a second time, he focuses Peter on growing those who will believe in Him, “Feed my sheep.” Once people are introduced to Jesus as Savior, repent of their sins to Jesus, someone (a shepherd) will need to lead them in God’s ways, protect them from the enemy, feed them God’s Word, with reliance on Jesus.
The last time Jesus asks, “do you love Me”, Peter becomes irritated as a child would who has been asked to empty the trash for the tenth time, but Peter listens. I think Peter is beginning to understand what Jesus is really asking. Do you love Me, trust me and rely on me even unto death? Jesus is telling Peter how he will suffer in similar ways as He did. Is Peter’s love for Jesus strong enough to stand firm? Jesus verifies His questions of love with, “Follow Me.” Do what I did for you. Love people like I love you and help them find and follow me, too. Freely give them what I have given to you and will continue to give you—Truth to speak boldly.
And Peter does. Read the book of Acts, the “acts” of the disciples who realized the love Christ had for them and passed on His love to all who would listen and follow.
Do you love Me? Jesus asks that of me and you every day we live. How we live out His love to other people demonstrates the depth of our love for Him. Friends, let us work daily to focus and realize the depth of Jesus’ perfect love for us. Then love like Jesus, as if our lives depended on it.
Love God. Love Others. Two of the greatest commandments, according to our Lord, are not suggestions, but a way of life for those who love Jesus with all our hearts, minds and souls.
Do you love Me? –Jesus is asking…
John 21:15-25, The Message
Do You Love Me?
15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”
17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”
20-21 Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”
22-23 Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”
24 This is the same disciple who was eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate.
25 There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.
I do love you with all my heart, mind and soul. Help me even today to love like you love me—relentlessly. You will never let me go beyond your reach. You are always with me because of your love. Thank you.
In Jesus Name, for His glory, Amen.