LOVEST THOU ME?

 
                             Reading John 21:1-18
 

         INTRODUCTION

 
         (a) I want to speak for a few moments  on  one  of  the  MOST
         IMPORTANT THINGS IN YOUR LIFE AND MINE!!
         (b) On this fact hangs the WHOLE DEPTH -  OR  SHALLOWNESS  of
         our CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE!
         It effects the IMPACT or otherwise of our TESTIMONY for God!
         It ascertains whether or not, our WORK FOR GOD is EFFECTIVE!!
         It determines how much OF OUR INCOME we give to GOD!!
         IN  FACT,  OUR  WHOLE   WORTH   AS   SPIRITUAL  BEINGS  RESTS
         VERY MUCH UPON THIS THING!
         (c) So what are we talking about?? The  QUESTION  that  Jesus
         directs at Peter in our Bible reading has the answer!!
         (d) Our depth of LOVE FOR  THE  SAVIOUR  will  determine  and
         CONTROL  every  aspect  of  our  LIFE,   our   SERVICE,   our
         WITNESS, and our GIVING!!
         (d) The EVENT of course takes place AFTER  THE  RESURRECTION,
         and is in itself one of the many (recorded  and  unrecorded)
         appearances of the Risen Lord!!
         (e) There is a sense in that BEFORE WE CAN BE WHAT WE  SHOULD
         BE, WE'VE GOT TO REMEMBER WHAT WE WERE.
         (f) I am reminded of  the  SHEPHERD  BOY, (apart  from  David
         of course) who became a GREAT  RULER. But he insisted that in
         his palace, he kept THE SHEPHERDS ROOM,  and if at any  time,
         he was TEMPTED TO HAUGHTINESS,  OR SELF-IMPORTANCE, he  would
         go and spend some time in  the Shepherd's Room, where he kept
         all the relics of his past life - and that would soon RESTORE
         HIS EQUILIBRIUM.
 

         POINT 1

 
         (a) The EMBARRASSMENT of  Peter's  denial  of  His Lord, must
         have still been very fresh in his  mind - IN  MANY  WAYS,  HE
         MUST HAVE FELT LIKE CRAWLING UNDER  A  ROCK - or in his  case
         going back to the fishing boat  - AFTER ALL HE  HAD  CRUMPLED
         UNDER PRESSURE!! What further use could he be to the Lord??
         In one corps in which we've  been  stationed,  we  suggested
         someone for a local officer's position, (equivalent to church
         elder)  and  the reply  came back, They wouldn't be any good,
         X number of years  ago    they crumpled under pressure!"
         Thank God, He doesn't judge us  on   our  failures, and throw
         us on the scrap heap.
         (b) Before we can be of USE to the  Lord,  we  must  however,
         FACE UP TO THE PAST. That's what Peter had to do,  and  Jesus
         was making sure he did it. Had he not, we  might  NEVER  have
         HEARD of PETER AGAIN!!
         (c) If Peter was willing, we see that  a  NEW  BEGINNING  WAS
         AVAILABLE TO HIM !! THE PAST COULD  BE  WIPED  CLEAN!!  Jesus
         signifies this in the way he addresses him - IN THE SAME  WAY
         that He did when they first met in John 1:42.
         Jesus says "Simon Son of Jonas".
         It was like saying,
         "Peter, DON'T live  in  the   DEFEATS    of   the  past.
         FACE  UP TO THEM, LEARN BY  THEM,  BUT DON'T LET THEM CONTROL
         THE FUTURE!!"
         (d) But the whole of Peter's  future  was  dependent  on  one
         thing above all else, THE DEPTH OF HIS LOVE FOR THE LORD!!
 
 

         POINT 2

 
         (a) Jesus asks Peter the famous question,
         "LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE?"
         (b) There are three things which Jesus could  have  meant  by
         this:
         1. He could have been referring to Peter's GREAT LOVE OF  THE
         WATER, and fishing, which had of course been his life  -  and
         of course, at the beginning of the chapter, this is  what  he
         had returned to.
         It is true of course, that Christ does not accept   DIVIDED
         LOVE! REMEMBER, "NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS".
 
         2. He could have been asking Peter if His  love  was  GREATER
         THAN THAT FOR HIS FRIENDS who were seated round about.
         I have seen it happen so often, that  non-Christian  friends,
         have taken on more importance than the  things  of  God.  The
         ungodly activities of the  friends,  become  more  important
         than the practices, the meetings, the Christian witness.
         (*) Sometimes it can be the Bandsman or Songster, who  breaks
         the undertakings of their musician's bond in  order  to  play
         their instrument in  another  band  or  sing  in  an  outside
         choir of the world!!
         (*) Or the one who becomes involved  in  seedy  politics,  or
         groups who believe  and  practice  those  things  which  that
         Christian knows to be against Scripture!!
         (*) Or the one who begins to spend  money  to  impress  their
         friends, and give very little to God in comparison!
 
         3.  However  while  each  of  the  applications   can   apply
         personally, it is felt that  Jesus  was  most  likely  to  be
         saying, "Peter, do you  love  me  more than these others
         do??"
         In other words, "Peter,  is  your  dedication  going  to
         be governed by what others do?".
         (*) In verses 21-22, we see Peter showing, what Jesus felt to
         be too much interest in what others would be doing,  in  this
         case, John, and Jesus made it very clear, that, we  are  each
         responsible ONLY for our own personal relationship with him.
         (c) How many times I have heard people say, about many things
         "Why should I do it no-one else does?"
         Or perhaps, to try and justify  ourselves,  in  something  we
         know to be wrong, pointing at someone else, and saying,
         "Well they do it. Why shouldn't I?"
         (d) It is an OPEN INSULT TO GOD,  to try and live  our  lives
         according to what other people do.
         HE HAS SAVED US! HE ALONE HAS GIVEN US THE RULES TO LIVE BY!
         No-one apart from the Lord Jesus, is a fit person,  to  take
         our example from!! If we  try  and  take  that  example  from
         someone else, then WE WILL FALL FLAT ON OUR FACES !!
         (e) How often I have  heard Christian people make statements,
         which must hurt the Lord so very much -
         "I'm tired of being the SOFTY who always GETS LUMBERED.
         Let someone else do it for a change".
         "Why should I tithe my money to God, after all, who else
         does it?"
         "Why should I care about  going  to  the meeting or not,
         no-one else seems to care much?"
         I'M SURE SUCH ATTITUDES, GIVE REASON FOR  MUCH  REJOICING  IN
         IN THE DEVIL'S DOMAIN!!
 

         POINT 3

 
         (a)  Unfortunately,  we  lose   much   in   the    authorised
         translation, in what these words of Jesus  actually  mean  to
         Peter.
         (b) You see When Jesus asks this question, He uses the  Greek
         word "agapao"  which  means  a  "deep  burning
         devotion,"  such as we would have for God!!
         (c) In fact it is the SAME GREEK WORD that is used in John 3:
         16 when it speaks of GOD'S LOVE FOR US!!
         (d) Bearing this in mind, Peter was being asked by Jesus,
         "PETER, DO YOU LOVE ME - AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOU ?"
         HOW DO YOU REACT TO SUCH A  QUESTION DIRECTED AT YOU ?
         (e) Now when Peter replies to Jesus, he  uses  another  Greek
         word  to  signify  LOVE  -   "phileo"  which  means
         a  "DEEP FRIENDSHIP TYPE OF LOVE!!"
         (f) Jesus again asks the same  question  exactly,  using  the
         same "agapao" LOVE - THIS  LOVE  ABOVE ALL ELSE!! A
         DEEP  HOLY BURNING LOVE!!Jesus  uses  the  same  word in MARK
         12:30, when He tells us to  LOVE  GOD  with ALL our HEART and
         SOUL and MIND and with all our STRENGTH!!
         (g) Again Peter replies, using his WEAKER GREEK WORD.
         (h) NOW IF YOU WONDER WHY Peter gets so worked up  the  third
         time Jesus asks the question, it is because  the  Lord  takes
 
         PETER'S WEAKER WORD FOR  LOVE "phileo",  throws  it
         straight back at him and asks Peter  if he even has THAT kind
         of Love!!
         (*)The same question three times, also points to the denial!!
 
         Phillip's Translation says,
         Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?
         "Yes Lord", he replied,  "You  know  that I am
         your friend."
         "Then feed my lambs", returned Jesus. Then He  said
         for  the second time, "Simon,  son  of John, do you love
         me?"
         "Yes Lord", returned Peter,  "You  know that I
         am your friend."
         "Then take care of my  sheep," replied  Jesus. Then
         for  the third time, Jesus spoke to him and said,
         "SIMON SON OF JOHN, ARE YOU MY FRIEND ?"
         Peter was deeply hurt because Jesus' third  question  to  him
         was,  "Are  you  my    friend?";   and   he   said,
         "Lord  you  know  everything.  You  know  that I am your
         friend!"
         "Then feed my sheep," Jesus said to him.
 
         Jesus was not fooled for a moment by Peter's  statement,  and
         He ends  up  by  asking,  "ARE  YOU  EVEN  THAT  KIND OF
         FRIEND?"
 

         CONCLUSION

 
         (a) Sometimes, as we look into the Word of God, some  of  the
         spiritual glass slippers, appear to fit our feet.
         (b) I don't know if that is the case for anyone here in  this
         meeting.
         (c) But I do know this, that it behoves  every  Christian  to
         continually search their hearts, to make sure that their love
         for  the  Lord  is   as   it   should   be   -  deep  burning
         "agapao" love.
 
 
         SOLO "Knowing my failings"
 
         SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK & 'HAPPINESS & HARMONY'
 
         SONG      TUNE
          41  in Happiness & Harmony
          70  in Happiness & Harmony
 
         507       529
         294       711