Who do you love? A study of John 21:15-17 (carm)
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So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, 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, "Tend My sheep." (John 21:15-17)
- Eros is generally known as physical love
- Phileo is brotherly love
- Agape is generally known as divine love
- Feed My lambs; (v. 15); Boske ta arnion mou
- Take care of My sheep (v. 16); poimane ta probata mou
- Feed My sheep (v. 17). Boske ta probata mou
In Jesus’ three questions of love (agapas, agapas, and phileis) and His three commands of duty (boske, "tend"; poimaine, "herd, lead to pasture"; boske) various Greek synonyms are used.
Perhaps the most important of all questions: "Do you love me?".
This is both a simple question and a profound one.
It was the most important question that the Apostle Peter had ever faced.
Within the deepest recesses of his being, did he truly love Jesus Christ?
Nearly two thousand years have passed since these words were spoken by Christ, but to this day, the inquiry remains valid.
This is no mere matter for "Religious Fanatics." This question deserves, even demands an answer from all rational beings, "Do you love Jesus Christ?"
Note the personal nature of the question.
- Christ did not inquire as to whether the world, or Israel, or the disciples as a whole loved Him;
- He didn’t ask Peter about someone else.
- He simply asked Peter, "Do you love me?"
Today, each one of us must ask the question: "Do I love Jesus Christ?"
The love that your family, friends, or church has for Him will not be reckoned to your account. One cannot love by proxy. I would ask you to search your own heart and honestly answer the question.
Note the central nature of the question.
Jesus could have asked Peter about many things. He could have asked,
- "Simon, Son of Jonah, have you made a credible profession of faith?"
- Peter could have answered, "I know that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
- Jesus could have inquired, "Simon, Son of Jonah, do you hold an important office in the church?"
- Peter would have replied, "Yes Lord, you have ordained me as an apostle."
- Christ might have asked, "Simon, Son of Jonah, have you had any extraordinary supernatural experiences?"
- Peter could have responded, "Of course, I have walked on the sea, cast out devils, etc."
But Christ did not put any of these questions to Peter. He simply asked, "Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?"
He asked this particular question because real love for Jesus Christ distinguishes true Christians from false Christians.
A hypocrite may have a good profession of faith, have been baptized, hold a church office, and a myriad of other external privileges. But a hypocrite will not and cannot love Jesus Christ. "He will not delight in the Almighty" (Job 27:10).
Some people put their love in their work, their family, their hobbies, and put Jesus on hold and do not love Him as Lord.
Perhaps you are confident in your creed, or your baptism, or your church affiliation, yet without true love for Christ. If this is your estate, hear the fearful malediction of the Apostle Paul:
- "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed" (1 Corinthians 16:22).
- Love for Jesus is central to the Christian life, for without it, nothing else matters.
Note the active nature of the question. The Lord was not content with merely a profession of Peter's love. Remember, Judas had betrayed him with a kiss. Jesus wanted to see the evidence of Peter’s love: "Peter, if you love me, feed my sheep."
Although love is an invisible entity, its fruits are clearly seen. If we truly love the Lord, we will show this by obeying His Word. "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
His commandments are not burdensome, but are the very nature of love itself. Consider the greatest of the commandments. Matthew 22:37-40, "And He said to him, "‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Also, consider the fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
God is love and the Christian is to show Love.... But first... you must love Jesus.
You cannot truly love your brother or sister if you do not truly love Jesus.
He died for you and freed you from sin. He showed his love for you by dying for you.
Do you love Jesus? How is it manifested in your life? Do you hide from Him or seek Him? Do you wait for Him in prayer or only on Sundays?
What does it mean to Love Jesus?
- It means to put Him first.
- It means to obey Him.
- It means to love one another.
- It means to love God.
The great question which all rational beings must answer is this: "Do you love Jesus Christ?" As Christians we must ask it often.