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Dear Dayspring Family,

Do You Love God?  Part 1

Pastor Dave

Many years ago now, one of my uncles was checking out some items in a grocery store.  When he got to the checkout clerk, he said that he felt that he should ask her, “Do you love God?”.  So he did.  Now when she heard this, she immediately broke into tears.   The manager of the store rushed over to see if the customer, my uncle, had insulted her or said something impatient or unkind.  But, of course, he had not.  He simply asked,  “Do you love God?”

About two thousand years ago, another man was asked almost the exact question.  The difference was that the God incarnate - Jesus Christ - was asking the question.   The person who was asked the question was apparently as distraught as the cashier to whom my uncle spoke.  And he, perhaps, broke into tears as well.   The story is recorded in John 21:1-19 - and that is the text I want us to think about as we seek to answer for ourselves the question, “Do we love God?”

Just to set the context, this incident took place shortly after Peter’s denial of Christ, and the crucifixion.  Jesus had been raised from the dead and was spending a little time with His disciples in order to prepare them for work after He ascended back to the Father in heaven.

Let’s look at the text and see if we can discover what Jesus is asking, and what He intended to teach Peter - and the rest of His church - about love.  We will especially focus on verses 15-19:

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, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him 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, “Tend my sheep.” 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

After a repeat of the a miracle that Jesus hade done when He first chose His twelve disciples, which was followed by a great meal of bread and broiled fish, Jesus sat down with His disciples and asked Peter a question - apparently in front of them all - DO YOU LOVE ME MORE THAN THESE?

What did Jesus mean by “more than these”?  I think it was likely a reference to the disciples.  Because if you remember, Peter had most adamantly asserted that he loved Jesus more than the other disciples when he had said, “though all others (disciples) forsake you, I will not!”  Now you might think this cruel - but it was not.  It was necessary for Peter to humble himself - which he was not always willing to do.  But I think it is a real question: You have said you love me.  But do you really love me?

At this point, this question applies to all of us, does it not?  It is very easy to say, “Oh, yes, I love God.  I love Jesus”.  But do your actions reflect what you say?  THAT REALLY IS THE ISSUE HERE.  AND IT IS A QUESTION WE ALL HAVE TO ANSWER.

Peter, of course, affirmed His love for Jesus.  And though he had publicly denied Him three times, he affirmed his love for Jesus three times publicly.  The last time Peter affirmed this he was apparently moved to tears for the text says he was “grieved” that Jesus would keep asking this.

So, Jesus gave Peter a chance to reaffirm his love for Him three times - once for every time he denied him.  Now this is NOT teaching that we must make up for our sins by some kind of penance.  Rather, Jesus, I think, was affirming that He had forgiven Him for all of his denials - because Jesus let him know three times that in spite of his sin, his calling remained the same.  Peter was the called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28), and that had not changed.

Now in Jesus’ responses to Peter, we learn something of what love for the LORD really is.  We will look at one of these truths this month, and will continue next month

looking at further truths about what loving God means from Jesus’ conversation with Peter.

The first thing we learn is that loving the LORD means serving others.  Verses 15-17  What was Jesus’ response to each of Peter’s answers to His question?  Feed my sheep, or feed my lambs (Verses 15,16,17)

So what does “feeding” mean?  Feeding has reference to spiritual teaching and pastoral care.  Thus, Jesus was saying that Peter, as a natural part of loving Christ, must serve others - especially those who are Christ’s “sheep” - or other Christians.  Again, Christ says this three times.  There is no real love for Jesus that does not care about and serve others.

This was not natural for Peter.  He tended, like many of us, to be very concerned about himself.  He was no doubt involved

in the “who is the greatest” argument that the disciples had on occasion.  BUT PETER WAS BEING TAUGHT THAT WE CANNOT SAY WE LOVE GOD IF WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT AND SERVE OTHERS - IN REAL TANGIBLE WAYS.

So let me ask you (and myself), according to this part of the definition of loving God, do we really love God?  I hope that we will seek to serve others in this church - and the church at large - as an expression of our love for Him.

Pastor Dave

 

 

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