DO YOU LOVE ME?
Dr. Tom Berry
"Simon, son of
Jonah, do you love me...?
John 21:15, 16, 17.
Peter's love for
Jesus was like many Christians today. There were times when
it flowed red hot and other times his love was cold. Peter
had recently denied Jesus three times with cursing. In the
verses listed above we read how Jesus required Peter to reaffirm
his love three times. This was the final step Jesus used to
restore Peter to unhindered fellowship with Himself and the
We should not be
surprised if Jesus uses a similar process with us today. The
first step came that early Sunday morning when Jesus rose again.
The first ones to the tomb were the women who came with spices.
They were greeted by an angel who told them, "...He is not
here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell
His disciples---and Peter---that He is going before you into
Galilee..." (Mark 16:6, 7). It seems that the
angel was insinuating that at this point in time Peter was not
classified as one of the disciples of Jesus.
The second step
came when at some point that first Sunday afternoon Jesus appeared
personally to Peter. When the disciples assembled that
evening in the upper room one of them reported "The LORD is
risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" (Luke 24:34).
We cannot help but wonder what was said between Jesus and Peter in
The third step
involved Peter himself being present in the upper room when Jesus
appeared to the disciples.
instruction of Jesus, Peter and the other apostles returned to
Galilee to wait for Him to meet with them. As they are
waiting Peter blurts out, "I am going fishing!"
Others responded, "We are going with you also." (John
21:3). No doubt they were still feeling emotional stress
from the events of the last several days. Their grand hopes
of imminent honor and power had been dashed and left them
distraught and frustrated. All of them felt a need for
something to relieve their tension. However, it seems from
the loving, but stern way Jesus confronted him that Peter's
thoughts went deeper than just taking an isolated fishing trip.
It is possible that his thoughts went something like this, "I have
been a miserable failure at the apostle business and my confidence
has been totally shaken that I can ever be success at it.
I was a success at the fishing business for many years and I'd
like to see if I'm as good at it as I used to be. If I am,
and I can't get this apostle thing sorted out then I will probably
return to the fishing business as my life's vocation." God's
providence answered that question because "...That night they
caught nothing". With the first rays of morning light
Jesus made His presence known. Under His direction the
disciples caught in one sweep of the net 153 fish.
dining on the fish Jesus turned to Peter and asked, "Simon, son
of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" The word
translated "these" can be masculine or neuter. Jesus
addressed His question to Peter. The meaning is, "Do you
love Me more than 'these other disciples"...or "these fish", or
both. In any case Jesus brings back to Peter's memory his
words in the upper room, "Even if all are made to stumble
because of You, I will never be made to stumble." (Matthew
26:33) Jesus had immediately answered, "...This night,
before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."
Peter stumbled terribly that night making it a reasonable question
as to whether he really loved Jesus.
The first two times
Jesus asked Peter the question the word He used for "love" was the
verb form of "agape." This is the word nearly always used to
describe God's love. Although the feeling of affection is
present in agape, the dominant idea is an unconditional commitment
that thoughts, words, and actions will be in the best interest of
the object of "agape" love. When we read about God's agape
love we rarely read about how He feels toward us, but
rather His actions toward us. "God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son..." (John
3:16). Peter's denial of Christ with cursing most surely did
not convey thought, words, and actions in the best interest of
Christ. In the whole discussion Peter never used any form of
PETER HAD WARM
answered, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love you" he used the
verb form of "philos" which means warm, human affection. He
was appealing to Christ that even though his words, thoughts, and
actions had failed to demonstrate his love, he did have warm
affection in his heart. To his first answer Jesus said, "Feed
My lambs" and to his second, "Tend My sheep."
"Lambs" means new or immature believers. "Sheep" means spiritually
mature believers. Jesus was again endorsing Peter for the
ministry of apostleship to which He had called him. The
words "Feed" and "Tend" speak of an on-going ministry for as long
as Peter lived!
asked Peter once more, "Do you love Me?" Only this
time Jesus used the word Peter used, "Do you have a warm affection
for Me?" Peter could only answer with confidence, "LORD,
You know all things. You know that I have a warm affection
for You." To this Jesus replied, "Feed My sheep."
We should remember that the most important commodity and highest
priority of Jesus on earth is His sheep. His standing order
for Peter and all who are given the pastoral gift is to feed His
THE MESSAGE FOR
US TODAY, DO WE LOVE CHRIST
Love For Jesus Can Be Absent In The Most Eminent Christian Leaders
Peter was clearly
an eminent Christian leader but that did not prove his love for
Jesus was always what it should be:
eminent in outward religion.
When a voice from heaven commanded Peter to arise, kill and
eat unclean animals he had seen a vision Peter refused. "Not
so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or
unclean." Acts 10:14.
eminent as an apostle.
In the age of the church the office of apostle is the highest
authorized by Jesus and the New Testament. We also note that
in every list of apostles given in the New Testament Peter's name
heads the list.
eminent in religious privilege.
Jesus did have an inner circle. It was composed of
Peter, James, and John. We have three recorded events in
which only they out of the twelve apostles were allowed to
1). The mount of Christ's transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1,2).
2). The restoring to life of the daughter of Jairus. (Mark
8:41, 42, 51-56).
3). The garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36, 37).
eminent in religious zeal.
It took religious zeal of the highest level to ask Jesus to
command him to walk on the water and then to step out on the water
and walk on it. It took religious zeal to draw a sword and
attack the whole mob that came to take Jesus prisoner in
eminent in self denial
Peter could say to Jesus in clear conscience, "See, we have
left all and followed You..." (Matthew 19:27). He
had personally given up the successful "Peter and Andrew Fishing
Enterprise" to follow Jesus.
eminent in Christian orthodoxy.
Peter had completed three years in the Jesus Christ Apostolic
Seminary. There has never been a seminary since that was its
And yet, there was
a point in time when the love of Jesus in this eminent apostle
became absent. How about you and me?
For Jesus Is The Evidence Of Our Salvation
Ponder these words
of Jesus, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I
proceeded froth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but
He sent Me." (John 5:42).
There are those who
teach that all humans are children of God. This is true only
in the sense that God is Creator and the ultimate source of every
living being. Jesus clearly taught that if we possess
spiritual life as the children of God we will love God's Son Who
made it possible for us to become children of God.
The Apostle Paul
put this same truth in the negative sense, "If anyone
does not love the LORD Jesus Christ, let him be accursed..."
(1st Corinthians 16:22).
Gave Five Tests To Determine If We Love Him.
1). We will
love other true believers in Christ. "By this all will
know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
2). We will keep Christ's commandments. "If you
love Me, keep My commandments." "If anyone loves Me, he will
keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him
and make Our home with him." (John 14:15, 23.)
3). We will abide in Christ's love. "As the Father loved
Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My
commandments you will abide in My love..." (John 15:9, 10).
4). We will feed the sheep of Jesus. The words of
Jesus to Peter in John 21:15-17 were not for Peter alone.
They apply to all who love Jesus. We are to feed the little
lambs and mature sheep of Jesus in order that they may continually
grow in grace.
5). We will follow Jesus. Jesus proceeded to reveal to
Peter that after a life of feeding and tending His sheep that
Peter would experience a martyr's death. Peter asked in
effect, "But what are your plans for John?" Jesus answered,
"If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?
You follow Me." Likewise, we should make the firm
decision, "Regardless of what my Lord's plans are for any other
believer, I will follow His chosen will for me, whatever it is."
Many years ago a
missionary to China told how a very old Chinese woman attended one
of his services and listened to the story of Jesus. As the
invitation was given she opened her heart to Jesus and received
Him as her Savior by faith. After the service she traveled
back home over the dusty road to her village home. After
many days her heart was eager to learn more about this new life,
so she set out to find the missionary. Finally locating the
missionary she walked up to him and said, "I know He forgave my
sins and saved me. He has made me happy inside, but would
you tell me His name again?" As a result of that story
George Bernard wrote:
"Oh, tell me His
And sing me that sweet refrain
Of Him Who in love came down from above
To die on the cross of shame.
The story my heart has stirred
The sweetest I've ever heard;
It banished fear, it bring hope and cheer,
Oh, tell me His name again."
To trust Jesus
produces a salvation that causes us to love Him. This is
first love and when we maintain that first love every new
discovery about Jesus will produce greater love.
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.