Lovest Thou Me?

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John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

The question that Jesus asks Peter is one of the most profound and important questions in the Bible. Jesus asks Peter:

lovest thou me?

What caused Jesus to ask this question? Last week we studied and celebrated the Lord’s Table here at Riverview. It was at the Lord’s Table that Jesus told the Apostles:

Luke 22:21 … behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table.

Jesus Knows Our Hearts

Jesus knows your heart.
Jesus knows the heart of His people.
Jesus knows if you love Him or not.

As Jesus looked about that table – a table to celebrate the Cross that our Master would suffer for us – He saw the heart of Judas. Judas loved money. The Bible tells us that Judas was a thief who kept the treasury of the Apostles, and stole from that treasury (John 12:6). Jesus knew this. He could see that Judas sold the Master for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3) but Jesus loved Judas anyway. Jesus knows. He knows our hearts. He looked around that Table on that fateful day – that crucifixion day – and saw Judas. But He also saw the others, and that all would betray Him that day. When Jesus spoke of betrayal He saw that all would fail Him.

All would fail Him.
Judas would fail Him,
But so would we all.

But Peter spoke up. He said:

Luke 22:33 … Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

Note Peter’s words. I am ready.

Peter is so like us. I have no doubt that Peter sincerely believed that he was ready, that he would give everything for Jesus. But as Judas loved the money, Peter loved himself. Peter loved the lime light. Peter looked in the mirror every morning and though, “What a good boy am I!” So when Peter heard “one of you shall betray me” his first impulse was to look at his neighbor, to judge the person next to himself, for Peter obviously could make no such mistake. The truth is, we are all subject to failure. We all fall, and fail. Praise God for Jesus. Praise God for that Old Rugged Cross. Praise God for the Blood and Water that flowed from our Lord’s side.

Jesus knew. He told Peter:

Luke 22:34 … I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

I can see the look on Peter’s face – a look of disbelief. It is a look I often have had when I heard on a fellow pastor falling away, or a deacon or Church leader making a terrible misstep. “Not I, Lord! I shall never fail You!” Oh the Grace of God, the marvelous Grace of Christ our Savior. Peter thought he would never fail. We all think that. Then it happens. Peter failed. Just as Jesus said, Peter failed. They all failed.

  • They failed in the Garden. Jesus asked them to pray WITH Him, and they failed Him in the Garden. They went to sleep when they should have been praying.
  • They failed in Christ’s taking. When the guards came to take Jesus one Apostle pulled a sword and cut off a man’s ear. Though Jesus put it back on the man’s head, we need to learn from this. No one can be forced into our faith. We – unlike the Muslims, the Mormons, and other false faiths – do not convert at the point of the sword. Jesus never commanded that. We are to love, love even those who betray us.
  • Then Peter failed Jesus at His trial. Just as Jesus said Peter would do he denied knowing the Lord. Three times Peter denies Christ. Three times! This is so significant. When Peter denied Jesus the third time the Bible says:

Luke 22:61-62 … the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter was confronted with his failure. He wept bitterly because he felt that he should have done better. Three times he betrayed Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus but once, and that by a kiss. Peter didn’t even kiss the Master when he betrayed Him. Oh, but let us not be self righteous about this, for have not we all done the same thing? Do we not fail our Lord? Do we not put ourselves center stage in life, exalting in ourselves? Do we not fail to serve Him with all our hearts.

Though We Fail Him Jesus Loves Us

Someone asked a famous Bible teacher – I forget his name at this moment – but they asked him “What is the greatest truth you have ever learned from the Scripture”. The answer surprised the questioner. This famous fellow said:

The greatest truth I have ever learned from the Scripture is what I learned as a child in Sunday School. We used to sing it and understand it. Now we just sing it.” then he sang:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong,
We are weak, but He is strong!”

When we come to John chapter 21 the Bible tells us:

John 21:14 … This is now the THIRD time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

The first time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples was when the disciples hid in a locked room in Galilee, frightened and fearing the Pharisees (John 20:19). Jesus surprised them in that room, suddenly appearing. They thought He was a ghost. No, He was and is the Risen Savior,

Colossians 1:18 … the FIRSTBORN from the dead

The Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah never died, but were taken to Heaven apart from death. The Bible tells us that Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son from the dead, and that Jesus raised several from the dead, most notably His friend Lazarus. Some have gone to Heaven apart from death, others raised to later die again. Our Lord Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God Who is the First One Born into a glorified and perfect Body. Jesus rose from the grave after three days and three night of death. He rose in a perfect and glorified Body. He is the FIRSTBORN from the dead, and as He is so He has promised we shall be. Jesus appeared to His disciples in that locked room. Eight days later Jesus appears again, this time so that the Apostle Thomas can see and speak to Him (John 20:26).

Here is the third time that Jesus appears.

Remember Peter and his failure? When Jesus appeared that first time I suspect that Peter was looking to be rebuked. Jesus said nothing to Peter, but spoke to the group in that empty room. The second time Jesus appeared once more I suspect Peter knew he would be rebuked. Yet Jesus spoke only directly to Thomas, saying:

John 20:27-29 … Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

So now twice our Lord has appeared, but has not chastised Peter for his horrid failure. So now we come to our Lord’s third visit with His disciples in His glorified Body. Peter speaks up:

Let’s go fishing!”

Six men go out fishing with Peter.

There’s the one we call “Doubting Thomas”.
Then Nathanael, of whom Jesus said “Is no guile”.
James and John, who were Peter’s best friends.
And two unnamed disciples.

Seven men went fishing at night. All night long they fish, and catch absolutely nothing. As morning came, Jesus stood on the shore – but they didn’t know it was Jesus. Our Lord calls out:

Children, have ye any meat? Have you caught anything?”
It’s no surprise that they have caught nothing. Hasn’t Jesus told us:

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

We can do nothing apart from Jesus. Jesus needs to be in our lives. He needs to be in us as we go to work, as we play, in everything that we do – even in fishing. Oh, if we would carry Jesus with us on our vacations how wonderful and full they would be.

Children, have you caught any fish?”

Notice how gruff the answer. The seven merely say “No!”. We thought things would be better when Jesus rose from the grave. We thought that life would be all mountaintop experiences. Yet here we are, fishing all night long, and catching absolutely nothing. How dare He call us “children”. Who does this Man on shore think He is? Is He some Master Fisherman? Then He yells out:

John 21:6 … Cast the net on the right side of the ship,  and ye shall find.

Try the other side”. I can imagine Peter nearly biting his tongue off. The other side? We’ve been on this side, that side, the front and the back. But Peter was too tired to argue. So he let the net down on the other side!

If You Love Jesus, You’ll Listen To Him!

Oh, when we love Jesus and do as He says, He blesses us. He blesses us when we forget to love Him. He blesses us when we foolishly try to do it on our own. Jesus loves us, and wants to bless us. We are told:

John 20:6, 11 … They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. … Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

I have often wondered why there were 153 fish in the net. Why did God care so much to write this number in His Book, this glorious Bible? Theologians have debated this for years, ever since this Book was finished of God. Why 153 fishes? I believe it is because this is the second time this has happened to the disciples. In Luke 5 the disciples are fishing not at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1) but at the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:5). Just as it was when the disciples first met our Lord Jesus, they had toiled all night long, and caught not one fish (Luke 5:5). Then Jesus told them – just as He did on this occasion:

Let down your nets and you will catch fish!” (Luke 5:4)

Simon did as Jesus asked. He let down the nets – and caught so many fish that the nets broke. The Bible does not tell us the actual number of fish in this instance, but tells us that Simon called for other boats to help bring the fish in. The boats filled up with so many fish that they started to sink (Luke 5:7). The Bible says:

Luke 5:8 … When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Simon worshiped the Lord. Now at the Sea of Tiberius Jesus does it again. When Peter did as Christ asked, Peter was blessed beyond measure. This time Peter caught 153 fish – much more than a standard net could carry without bursting – and yet lost not one fish! Doesn’t the Bible say:

James 4:6 … {God} giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

This is the second that Jesus performed this miracle. There were more than 153 fish when Peter first met Christ … and now the Lord gives Peter a miraculous bounty, a much more bounty. Jesus told us “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15; 15:10). Do you love Jesus? How can you not love Jesus? How hard can your heart be to not love Him who first loved you – loved all of us (1 John 4:19). How can you not love Him Who:

gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us (Galatians 1:4)
gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6)
gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us (Titus 2:14)

Peter on seeing the nets filled jumps in the water, and swims to the Master. Here now is the third time Jesus appeared to Peter after Peter – three times – denied the Lord. What does Jesus ask Peter?

Does Jesus ask Peter:

Do you see now the error of your ways?”, or
“Do you believe My teachings?, or
“Do you believe My promises”?

Does Jesus ask Peter:

Do you remember the time you denied Me?
Not just once, but THREE times?”

No. Jesus asks:

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?

Jesus does not call him Peter, a name that Jesus gave him when he first gave his life to the Lord. No, he calls him by his old, unsaved name, the name he had as an unbeliever. Simon, do you love Me? Do you love Me more than THESE. Do you love Jesus more than your friends. Do you love Jesus more than your 153 fish? Do you love Jesus more than your boat? Do you love Jesus more than your nets? Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 8:42 … If God were your Father, ye would love Me! … I proceeded forth and came from God … He sent Me.

And John 14:23 … If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love Him, and we will come to Him, and make our abode with Him …

Peter, do you love Me? Do you love Jesus more than those things around you? Do you love Me more than even your own life? Didn’t Jesus say:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Is Jesus first in your love? Is He? Do you love Jesus, or just love the fact that He healed you, as He healed the lepers. Or have you become cold in your love? Have you become like the Church of Laodicea that was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm in their love. Didn’t Jesus say “I will spue you out of My mouth!” if you do not love Him? Did Jesus tell the Laodiceans:

Revelation 3:19-20 … As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

A failure to love Jesus is what locks Him out of the Church and out of the life of blessing that God wants to give us all. Do you love Him? Do you lovingly obey Him? Do you follow Him – not like you “follow” others on Facebook, but day by day and in every way? Oh, that God the Holy Spirit would cause us to love Him more.

If You Love Jesus, Serve Him

Do you love Him? Then hear what Jesus tells us to do. When Peter said “Yes Lord, I love You, our Master said:

Feed my lambs.

Who are the “lambs” that Jesus said were His? Are they not the helpless and the needy, those who love the Lord and have need. We are to be compassionate to those in need. I struggle with this, for often I am confronted with need because people have made bad decisions. Just this morning a lady came in and said:

You helped me several years ago with a motel room. Now my daughter’s boyfriend has left her, and she needs to pay her utilities.”

Though I helped this young lady several years ago, she took the help and never came to Church nor responded to Christ in any way. This is the way of the worldling. They wish the blessings of God, but want nothing to do with His Christ.

Is this young girl one of Christ’s Lambs? I do not think so, though my heart hurts to think of it. This is a child of Adam who has rejected Christ and His commandments, and as a result is in a bad place. Beloved, we are to feed the lambs of Christ, those who love the Lord and are in need. Jesus bids us feed My sheep. To do good in the Family of God, to love one another as Christ so loved the Church and gave Himself for it. Let us do good where we can. Let us love our Christ, and lift up His people in need. Let us minister Christ to those around us. Let us be His hands and His feet, for the glory of Christ our Savior.

May God lead you to be His light where you are.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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