Do You Love Me? Part 1

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

Text:

15 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.”
16 He said to him again 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.”
17 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).

Jesus was the same after His crucifixion, as He was before His crucifixion.
Although He had lain in the tomb, and descended into the place of the dead, and then retraced His steps back to the land of the living, He remained unchanged in His behavior and character.
His death and His resurrection could not change His character as a man, any more than they could affect His distinctiveness as God the Son.
He is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And after His resurrection, when He appeared to His disciples, He still had His kind manners; He hadn’t lost any of His interest in their welfare; He talked to them just as tenderly as before, and He called them His children and His friends.
He was even concerned about their bodily needs because he asked, “Children, do you have any meat?”
And He was just as worried about their spiritual condition, because after He had supplied them with a net full of fish from the sea, (which He may have created just for this occasion) He asked them a question that would test the condition of their faith.

He began by asking the one that you would suppose would be in the most sickly condition, the one who had denied his Master three times, and then wept bitterly.
He asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
We are only going to look at three things in this event:

1. There is a serious question; “Do you love Me?”
2. There is a discreet answer; “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
3. There is an assignment made; “Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My lambs’ or ‘Feed My sheep.”
First, then, there was A SERIOUS QUESTION, which Jesus put to Peter, not for the Lord’s information, but for Peter’s benefit.

The question hurt, and Peter expressed his pain, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
It is good for us, especially after committing some unpleasant sin, to think about what we have done.
And Peter needed to think about what he had done because sin can have an awful affect on our spiritual condition, and Christians should check themselves to see if their heart is tuned to listen to the Lord.
All of us should think about what we have done whenever we sin and ask for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.
It ought to be a daily habit, and we will need to do it for as long as we live.

Our Savior asked Peter this question so that Peter could ask it of himself.
So, I think that we should also ask ourselves the same question this morning.
Let’s ask ourselves in Jesus name, “Do you love the Lord?” “Do you love the Savior?” “Do you Love the One who died for you?”
Notice what this question was.
It was a question concerning Peter’s love.
He did not say, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you fear Me?”
He did not say, “Do you admire Me?” or “Do you idolize Me?”

And this wasn’t a question regarding his faith.
He didn’t say, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you believe in Me?”
But he asked him another question, “Do you love Me?”
I believe that love is the very best evidence of holiness.
Love is the greatest of all the graces that a person can possess, and therefore it is the best evidence of holiness.
I believe that faith is the foundation of our salvation, and that love springs from it.
If we have faith, it is a sure sign that we are God’s children; but there are also the gifts of God and they are also sure signs as well, but many of them cannot be seen by others.
Love is perhaps the best evidence and probably the easiest to detect.

The person, who lacks love, must also lack faith.
If love is little, that is a sign that faith is little; but a person who believes much also loves much.
If love is little then respect for God will be little and the courage to serve God will be little.
Every gift of God that comes to the believer by the grace of God is rooted in the faith of the believer, but they are also tied to our capacity to love.
So if love is weak, they must also be in a weak state.
That is why Our Lord asked Peter that question, “Do you love Me?”

It is interesting to note that Jesus didn’t ask Peter what he had done.
He didn’t say, “Simon Peter, how much have you cried? How often have you attempted to make amends for your great sin? How often have you got down on your knees to ask for My forgiveness for denying Me? You said that you would follow Me to prison and to death, but instead, you disowned Me.”
But Jesus didn’t ask about his works, instead, He asked about the state of his heart.
He asked, “Do you love Me?”
I believe that we are given this conversation to teach us something important.

It is that even though works flow out of love, love is greater than works and that works without love are not worth doing.
We may shed some tears, but they are not tears that God will accept unless we love Him.
We may do some good works, but they will not be accepted by God unless they are done out of love for Him.
We can observe communion and give our tithes, but unless we do these things out of love for God they will not be accepted. So the question which Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” is one that goes into the heart, and causes the person to examine his own heart because if he does not love, everything else is wrong.

So Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
My friends, we have a reason to ask ourselves the same question.
If our Savior was nothing more than a mere man, He might doubt if we love Him at all.
Let me just remind you of the many things which give us a reason to ask this question, “Do you love Me?”
Think with me for a moment about the sins of last week.
Don’t they make you doubt whether you love the Lord?

So, let’s look at the sins of last week.
Did you speak any words in anger?
Did you give anyone an angry look?
If you did either of these things, the Lord might have tapped you on the shoulder and asked, “Do you love Me?”
Could you have mumbled to yourself a complaint about someone, because something had gone wrong and you blamed God for it?
Could our Savior have looked at us out of pity and asked, “Why did you say that? Don’t you love Me?”
I believe that both you and I have been guilty of various sins this past week, and I am sure they are grounds for self-examination.

But let’s keep this thought in mind, “It is His love for us, not our love for Him that is the basis for our salvation, our security, and our discipleship.”
Have you ever thought to yourself, “If I loved Him more, would I sin less? Or Can I love Him, since I have broken so many of the commandments? Have I lived a life that points others toward Christ? Haven’t I wasted a lot of hours during the week when I could be witnessing for Christ? Haven’t I wasted many precious hours watching television when instead I could have spent that time in prayer? How many words have I wasted in idle conversation that could have been used to tell someone about Christ? How many foolish things have I been involved in? How many sins have I done without being sorry? How many lies have I covered over? How many times have I broken my Savior’s heart? How have I dishonored the cause of Christ? How have I in some ways disgraced my profession of love to Him?”

I hope that you will ask these questions of yourself, my friends, and say, “Is this how I should treat my Savior?”
But now let me put another question to you, “Does your worldliness ever make you doubt?”
How have you spent your time from Monday morning until Saturday night?
Have you taken hardly any time to think about Him?
Have you ever pushed Jesus into a corner to make room for your pleasure?
Have you put Him away for five minutes to make room for your own plans?

How very little time we give to Him.
We occupy ourselves with the news, the weather, the television, entertainment, sporting events, and social conversation.
Think about it; was there even a day last week where your goal was to think about Him, and to read your Bible, and to pray?

Did you crave to spend time with your Savior?
No, probably not, and perhaps there was a whole day go by and you scarcely thought of Him, until the end of the day, and then you could only scold yourself, and ask, “How could I have forgotten Christ today? I have not thought of Him; I have not walked with Him. I knew He would set with me at meals and when I am in conversation, and that He would lay with me when I nap, and that He would walk with me down the halls, but I left Him in my room and forgot Him all day long.”

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