Do you love me?
An ageless question. What answer will we give?
Jhn 21:15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, do you love me more than these? He said unto him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love thee. He said unto him, Feed my lambs.
Jhn 21:16 He said to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, do you love me? He said unto him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love thee. He said unto him, Tend my sheep.
Jhn 21:17 He said unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, do you love me? And he said unto him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus asks the same question 3 times.
Peter gives the same answer 3 times.
But Jesus gives 3 different instructions to Peter.
Traditionally, it is taught that Jesus questioned him 3 times because Peter had denied him 3 times.
But, this was after Jesus had raised from the dead (verse 14).
What purpose would this serve but to make Peter feel guilty after he had been forgiven?
It would be different if this had occurred before the crucifixion, and Jesus was predicting the denial by Peter.
Here, the questions occur after the crucifixion, and resurrection.
So, what was Jesus doing?
If one looks at the next verse, we see Jesus predicting Peter’s future death.
Jhn 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When you were young, you girded thyself, and walked whither you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry [thee] whither you would not.
Peter would stretch out his arms on a cross, just like what happened to Jesus.
From what I see, Jesus had 2 reasons for these questions:
1. He was giving Peter the instructions to feed the lambs (new converts) and to take care of the “older” sheep (Hebrew believers), and feed them the Word. This would be Peter’s life mission.
2. It was an act of kindness for Jesus to warn Peter of the type of death he would experience for his faithfulness to the gospel. To be caught off guard might shake his faith. But being warned, he had time to mentally and spiritually prepare for what was ahead of him.
How does Jesus’s question apply to us today?
We need to know how much, or how little, we love Him.
We need to know our level of commitment.
Some of us may die for our faith.
Some of us will not.
Some of us may die because we are not faithful enough, and our lack of devotion creates a situation where we do not have God’s protection.
We also need to understand our mission as believers.
While God is worthy of worship and this should be done, privately and corporately, it all goes back to love.
We need to feed the Lords’ lambs and sheep with the Word.
This is the purpose of the gospel.
Then we also need to consider the future that our faith will lead us into.
Are we prepared?
Only God knows how we will leave this life. Jesus thought it necessary to reveal Peter’s future, so he could prepare.
Maybe we should seek the Lord on this about our own personal future.
What would he have us do? Where would he have us go?
What will happen to us?
Will our death or life glorify him the way it should?
Will there be danger, and will we be prepared, or caught off guard?
If we die naturally, or by the hand of man, will our death be a witness to His glory?
Just something to think about.