"Do You Truly Love Me?"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

This morning I was reading John 21 and verses 15-17 suddenly meant more to me than they have ever before.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." ~ John 21:15-17 
Perhaps you have never heard of this part of scripture before or maybe you have heard this story many times. Either way, I encourage you to really pay attention to what Jesus is saying here. But first, lets get some backstory. Simon Peter is one of Jesus' twelve disciples. He was with Jesus from the beginning to the end. Simon Peter loved Jesus, he was devoted to Him. He even cut off the ear of the high priest's servant when Jesus was being arrested (John 18). Yet, despite all of this, after Jesus was arrested, that same night, Simon Peter denied being Jesus' disciple three times. Take note, Simon denied Jesus three times and Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times. This wasn't a coincidence, Jesus was reinstating Peter and inviting him back into grace, effectively wiping out the denials.  

Each time that Peter replied, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus responded with a call to action, "Feed my sheep." So often we are just like Peter, when things get heated up and we are under pressure from the world, we deny Jesus. I know that I myself have been guilty of this way too many times. I haven't ever right out said that I wasn't a Christian or verbally denied Jesus, but my actions and often turning a blind eye is just as much a denial as saying it outright. The good news though is that there is grace. When we are ready to stop denying and to lay aside our lives to love Christ, he is there at the proverbial beach with us; asking "do you truly love Me?" If your answer is, "Yes, Lord", then Jesus instructs you to "feed His sheep". 

 When you love someone, it shows through your words and actions. Parents enjoy showing off pictures of their children and bragging about their achievements. Spouses talk about each other to others. Women like to post pictures of the flowers that their husbands brought home as a surprise or brag on social media when they come home to a clean home, folded laundry, or prepared dinner. You talk about your friends and family to others all the time. That's just what naturally happens when you love someone, they tend to make it into the conversation often. The same ought to be true of Jesus if you truly love Him. This is what Jesus is talking about when He says, "feed my sheep." He isn't talking about physical food (though we can care for others' physical needs as well), He is talking about feeding people the Bread of Life. If we truly love Christ, then we should be sharing Him with others. He should be coming up in our conversations. We ought to be sharing stories about what God has done, both in and for the world as well as in your life personally. 

Have you ever known someone for a while and then suddenly discovered that they are married or a
parent. When that happens, it can be somewhat difficult to imagine, or even believe, that they are a loving husband/wife or mom/dad when you have never seen pictures or ever heard them even mention their spouse/children in passing. It just doesn't seem to fit into the person that you know them to be. The same is true of Christians. If we never talk about Christ, His works, or His grace, it can be difficult for those who know us to imagine or even believe that we truly love Jesus. When you love someone, you want to talk about it and want others to know about them and even want them to know that someone personally. So why don't we act this way about Jesus Christ, who IS love?

This is what hit me hard this morning during my devotions, and has been on my mind all day. To love Jesus is to feed His sheep. My heart has been softened and challenged to begin taking proactive action towards speaking about God and my love for Him. This won't always be in the form of an hour long religious discussion with an atheist, but will always come out with words of love. 

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  1. A very good analogy of knowing someone and so true.

  2. This is the second time I'm hearing this today. I think it's time to pay attention