Thursday, May 14, 2015
John 21:15-17 Restoration
Yesterday we studied and saw the Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loved Him more than things . . . we will pick up now where we left off.
We touched on this when we mentioned what was around Simon as Jesus asked him; there were fish, and nets, and the other disciples.
Ohhh, the other disciples. "Do you love me more than these?"
Peter once told Him that if all the others ran away that he never world.....Peter, do you really love me more than they do? Do you really love Me more than you love them?
Here's where the rubber meets the road. Let's apply this to ourselves!
Is there anyone in our lives that we love more than Jesus?
Who are we putting ahead of Him in our lives?
Maybe ourselves? Maybe our spouse or our kids? Perhaps our own parents?
But wait! We love them differently than we love Him!
Yes, that is as it should be.
Yet, if there is anyone in our lives that is taking away from our love for Him, then we love them more than we love Him. That's tough, isn't it? In this day when we are so stressed and pulled in all directions?
Let's dig deeper . . .
In Jesus' question, He used "agape" . . . Peter, do you really, really love Me? Is it a totally committed love, that is willing to sacrifice for Me? Putting it in simple terms, do you love Me with all your heart?
Peter's response makes me cringe, cos I know I have done this, too. He uses "phileo" instead -- yes, Lord, you know that I'm really fond of you.
Jesus didn't ask if Peter liked Him. He asked if he really, really loved Him, enough to forsake everything and everyone and follow Him.
It's a difference of intensity, isn't it? Like when your kiddos pipe up from the back seat and say, "Is there a rest stop soon?" Compared to when you hear "I really, really must go to the bathroom! When are we stopping???"
But before we are too hard on Peter, maybe he can't commit to that kind of love right now. Perhaps he is afraid of saying that he really, really loves Him, and then failing Him again.
I kinda think he learned his lesson; he's not going to brag about loving Jesus and then fail to live up to that. Not again.
Here is Jesus' response to Simon Peter -- "Feed my lambs."
Reading between the lines, perhaps He is telling Simon Peter, "I can understand your reluctance. You feel you can't totally commit to Me right at this moment. But you can still have a ministry. You can have a purpose. Go and feed my baby lambs -- because you love Me."
Perhaps we are not spiritual giants like Paul. Maybe we can't go out and preach, or serve on the mission field. But Jesus still has a ministry for us. We can work in Vacation Bible School; we can sing in the choir or sign for the service; we can visit the home-bound. We can get busy for Him!
Now Jesus asks Peter the second time -- but this time He leaves off the "more than these." He just wants him to consider, "Do you love Me?" Peter's reply is the same......Yes, Lord, you know that I like you a lot; I'm very fond of you; I think a lot of you." Wow, Peter's bragging days sure are over! He isn't about to commit himself to anything he thinks he can't live up to.
Then Jesus says to him, "Feed my sheep." Not just the baby sheep, the lambs. But also the older Christians. Jesus has confidence in Peter -- more than Peter has in himself! And He doesn't condemn his lack of commitment, his apprehension.
He sees Peter's heart, and He knows that Peter's work will grow along with his love for Jesus. It may take time, but it will come.
The final time, Jesus uses Peter's word for love: phileo. "Peter, do you really think very highly of Me?" Jesus comes down to Peter's level now. He started at the highest definition of "love" and now has come down to Simon Peter's level of "love."
Jesus is meeting Peter right "where he is at." He realizes that Simon's love for Him will grow, but right now He is working to restore him . . . he denied Jesus three times, now he needs to tell Jesus three times that he loves Him.
This time, though, Peter is grieved. Why?
Well, I kinda think it is not because Jesus asked him three times -- it's because Jesus had to come down to Peter's level of love. Kinda hurts to look deep within ourselves. Kinda hurts to realize with awe that Jesus will meet us right "where we're at."
But if we will admit without reservation that we love Him, no matter what level we are, Jesus is able to restore us to fellowship, and give us opportunities to serve Him.
Jesus is asking each of us: "Do you love Me?"
He is not asking if we go to church, or if we read our Bible, or if we pray, or even if we believe the Bible.
But "Do you really love Me?"
Everything else is secondary. Everything. Teaching Sunday School. Tithing. Church attendance.
Sometimes this question will grieve our hearts. It's meant to search us. To encourage us to search our own hearts. To get below the exterior, past the pretense.
Sometimes it can be a bitter taste of medicine. But oh, how we may need it.
We don't need for Him to "pull His punches." We need to honestly look within, and answer.
This might just transform us.
It might change our world.
It will definitely restore us to a vibrant fellowship with Him. And it will embolden us to tell others.
Let the changes begin!