So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs”.
He said to him a second time, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, Yes Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17 (NKJV)
In John 18, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times in one night, just as Jesus predicted he would. Three chapters later, after Jesus was resurrected, Jesus asks Peter three questions and Peter responds. Three times the Lord asks Peter if he loves Him, and three times He gives Peter His commission.
The first two times Jesus used the word love, it is translated in the greek as agape love, which is the highest form of love. He asked both if Peter loved Him more than these and then Jesus focused on Peter alone when He asked the second question. The third time Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him, the word love is the greek word phileo which is the word for friendship love. By asking Peter three times, Peter was faced with the questions of if he loved Jesus totally and completely, with all of his heart, mind and strength.
What is so very interesting about this passage is that all three times, Peter had to answer the question of his love for Jesus before hearing the call of service for Him. It is love that is the supreme word here that guides the heart and mind to obedience to Peter, and the same is true for myself. The only way that my life will be used by Him, the only way that I could share His love with the world and influence others to find and follow Jesus, is if I love Him with all of my heart, mind and strength.
How much do I love Him? I cannot say that I love Jesus enough if I fail to obey Him. Jesus will manifest Himself to me only if I love Him and my level of love for Him will be evidenced in my level of obedience and service to Him. This passage challenges me to with very tough and difficult questions. They are questions that demand answers as I pray and think deep about this topic of love towards Jesus.
They are questions such as these:
Does my love for Jesus discipline me?
Is my love for Him making Him more real to me?
Does my love for Him manifest itself in my life and is it visible to others?
Do I love Him equally in both the peaks and the valleys of life?
These are the questions that are, I believe, the most important questions I could ask myself. They were certainly the most important questions that were asked of Peter, too.
O Lord, I humbly thank you and praise you for your Word, spoken to my heart. Your Word is such a treasure chest for it reveals who you are and it allows me to see you as these eyes could see you. You speak to my heart and you reveal to me the deepest longings that I would never even know existed apart for your spoken and beautiful Word. Thank you for giving the Scriptures!
Lord, I know that I could have faith that mountains but if my life lacks love for you, I am nothing. Out of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. Everything in my life that is used in service to you and your kingdom, is only possible if I love you first.
I thank you your unfailing love for me! Without your love for me, my love for you is not even possible for you have loved me before the foundations of the earth. You have loved me with an everlasting love and you have demonstrated your unfailing love by dying for me and paying my penalty for my sins.
Lord, I pray that you continue to use your Holy Spirit to transform my heart and my mind. I pray that you continue to reveal to me through the power of your Spirit how great and awesome and wonderful you are. You are the love of my life but I want my love to grow deeper and higher and further and wider every day that you give me. Take my life and use it! Make every single day you have given me, a love offering back to you. May I not waste any of the days you have given me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
In Your beautiful and matchless Name, I pray,
From the archives. Originally published November 8, 2009.