LOVEST THOU ME?
Reading John 21:1-18
(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
(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
(d) But the whole of Peter's future was dependent on one
thing above all else, THE DEPTH OF HIS LOVE FOR THE LORD!!
(a) Jesus asks Peter the famous question,
"LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE?"
(b) There are three things which Jesus could have meant by
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
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
"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!!
(a) Unfortunately, we lose much in the authorised
translation, in what these words of Jesus actually mean to
(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
(*)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
"Then feed my lambs", returned Jesus. Then He said
for the second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love
"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
"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
(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
(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
SOLO "Knowing my failings"
SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK & 'HAPPINESS & HARMONY'
41 in Happiness & Harmony
70 in Happiness & Harmony