Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:15)
Just before His crucifixion, Jesus spent some final, tender moments with His disciples. He washed their feet and then ate dinner with them during what is known as the Last Supper. In that warm, bonding atmosphere, Jesus told Peter he would soon deny Him. Not once, but three times.
Talk about a mood killer.
Your Master and dear friend just called you out in front of the rest of your associates. He questioned your loyalty and courage in the face of adversity. How do you come back from that? To be sure, Jesus was not criticizing Peter for his upcoming failure. He already knew what was going to happen and spoke matter-of-factly to forewarn His often outspoken follower.
True to Christ’s word, Peter could not stop himself. Though forewarned, he still had the freedom to exercise his free will – and he did so in excruciating fashion. The night Jesus was arrested and carried away to be tortured and eventually killed, Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. When Jesus needed him most, Peter failed Him. Peter’s denial surely saddened him, but the disappointing glance from Jesus grieved his heart.
Fast-forward a few days. Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross, rose from the dead, and had already spent time with His disciples. But the fellowship between Jesus and Peter was still broken, if not severed.
At the sovereignly perfect moment, Jesus reached out to his crestfallen leader. During a quiet lakeside breakfast, Jesus broke the strained silence of their relationship by asking Peter, Do you love Me? Not once, but three times.
Oh, how painful those words must have been to hear! Instead of casually engaging in small talk and ignoring the elephant in the room, Jesus lasered in on the core issue. Did He know Peter’s heart and the love he felt? Of course. But He asked this penetrating question to pierce through Peter’s darkness so he could answer for himself. Until Peter faced this question and answered, Yes, I love You! he remained in his grief and disbelief.
Jesus asks us the same: Do you love Me?
Until we answer that question fully, we remain in either the darkness of no relationship with Him or the twilight of spiritual mediocrity. How will you answer that question? If you respond as Peter did, how do you prove your love for Jesus?
If you love God, you will love people; if you do not love people, you cannot love God. (1 John 4:20)
God’s love has been poured into us through His Spirit (Romans 5:5). As His children, His love will flow through us to others. Love is the distinctive characteristic of a Christian (John 13:35). There is no fear or doubt in perfect love (1 John 4:18). To love God means to fully trust Him.
All these references raise the following questions. Do you trust Him? Do you love those around you? Who in your life is the most difficult to love? God may deepen your love for Him by placing unloving people in your life. If there exists a shred of hatred, meanness, slander, gossip or malice toward others, you may want to check yourself.
Do you love Me?
James 4:4 adds another evidence of your love of God. If you love Him, you will be an enemy of the world; if you are friendly with the world, you are an enemy of God.
Do your unbelieving associates know you are a follower of Christ? Does your lifestyle betray your testimony? Are you fearful or ashamed of your Christian witness? What worldly habits are keeping you from a closer walk in holiness? What part of your life have you not yet surrendered to Him?
Do you love Me?
In John 14:15, Jesus said that if you love Him, you will obey Him.
Which command are you not fully following? Are you actively fulfilling the Great Commission of spreading the Gospel to a dying world? Are you committed to allowing God’s transforming work to shape you into Christlikeness — no matter the cost? Do you wholeheartedly desire and pursue a consistent fellowship and intimate relationship with God?
Do you love Me?
It is my hope and prayer that you wholeheartedly embrace God’s love, allow it to flow through you to others and exhibit it in your characteristics and lifestyle. Besides, you will need God’s love to love people anyway!
Be sure to check back every week and read more from our 9-part series, God Wants To Know.