After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered 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 distressed that he had said to him a 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. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”( John 21:15-19)
In today’s scripture, we are reminded that Simon Peter has something that we do not have . . . the opportunity to tell God, face to face, how much we love Him.
But is that true?
We may not have the luxury that Simon Peter had but there is another dynamic at work. Sometimes when Jesus is asking if we love Him, we don’t even hear the question. Instead, we focus on our lives, often times thinking that we are praising God with our lives. How infrequently we simply say, “I love you, Jesus!” Such a simple and honest phrase it is, and yet so strangely foreign. We just assume that Jesus ‘knows that we love him,’ even though we do not often say it out loud. And, in that, we are right; he knows that we love him.
But Jesus asks us more than three times. He asks us throughout our lives. Especially whenever we are on the verge of sinning. When the subtle gnawing of our conscience reminds us that we are on the verge of doing something wrong, perhaps it is actually Jesus asking me, “Do you love Me?”
How hard is it really to love Jesus? He asks of us only two things: to love God, and to love our neighbors. Every sin contradicts one or both of those commandments. Each time an action, a spoken word, or a disrespectful thought, which damages a relationship with another person, it also damages our relationship with the Lord.
Yet, we say we love Him. Then what do we need to do to be able to follow His commands of love? We so do by yielding control of our lives to Him. . . by making the decision to walk with Jesus daily and to trust Him with all our hearts.
Do we love Him so much that we would be willing to sacrifice for Him? Do we love Him so much that we are willing to obey Him and follow His agenda rather than our own? Do we love Him enough to endure pain and hardship in this life? Do we recognize how great His love for us is, and are we willing to love Him back?
Jesus loves us and is with us every second of the day. Are we willing to place our hand in Jesus’ hand? Jesus loves us and will walk with us every step of the way. Jesus will guide us and strengthen us when we need help to deal with life.
Jesus’ final statement to Peter was: “Follow me.” Today Jesus speaks those same two words to us! Will we follow him? Jesus longs to walk with us each day! The question is: will we walk with him?
Prayer of The Day
“Lord we pray that with your grace we may say “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Help us to turn away from sin and turn to you in love. A love which is whole, complete, full and abiding. A love which always says Yes to you. Yes in words. Yes in our hearts. Yes in Action. Yes, Yes, a thousand times Yes. Lord, I Love YOU. Amen.”
The exchange between Peter and Jesus is one that not only gives Peter authority as the leader of the Church (“feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep”), but it is also helps Peter realize that loving the Lord means following Him where ever He leads. The truth is that you cannot truly follow someone unless you have love for them. It takes a certain type of love, a love of a person that makes us loyal and trusting, that allows us to follow someone. Like Peter, we cannot follow God unless we realize how much we love Him and how much we are loved. God is calling out to each of us; “do you love me?” Once we say “yes Lord, I love you”, then we are ready to follow Him.