Do You Love Me?

3-03-03

 

 Do You Love Me?

 


Text:
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep (John 21:15-17).

 

 

Jesus was the same after His crucifixion, as He was before His crucifixion. 

Although, He had lain in the tomb, and descended into the place of the dead, and then retraced His steps back to the land of the living, He remained unchanged in His behavior and character. 

His death, and His resurrection, could not change His character as a man, any more than they could affect His distinctiveness as God the Son. 

He is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

And after His resurrection, when He appeared to His disciples, He still had His kind manners; He hadn’t lost any of His interest in their welfare; He talked to them just as tenderly as before, and He called them His children and His friends. 

He was even concerned about their bodily needs because he asked, “Children, do you have any meat?” 

And He was just as worried about their spiritual condition, because after He had supplied them with a net full of fish from the sea, (which He may have created just for this occasion) He asked them a question that would test the condition of their faith. 

He began by asking the one that you would suppose would be in the most sickly condition, the one who had denied his master three times, and then wept bitterly. 

He asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

We are only going to look at three things in this event:
1. There is a serious question; “Do you love Me?”
2. There is a discreet answer; “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
3. There is an assignment made; “Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My lambs’ or ‘Feed My sheep.”

First, then, there was A SERIOUS QUESTION, which Jesus put to Peter, not for the Lord’s information, but for Peter’s benefit.

The question hurt, and Peter expressed his pain, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” 

It is good for us, especially after committing some unpleasant sin, to think about what we have done. 

And Peter needed to think about what he had done, because sin can have an awful affect on our spiritual condition, and Christians should check themselves to see if their heart is tuned to listen to the Lord. 

All of us should think about what we have done whenever we sin, and ask for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. 

It ought to be a daily habit, and we will need to do it for as long as we live. 

Our Savior asked Peter this question, so that Peter could ask it of himself. 

So, I think that we should also ask ourselves the same question this morning. 

Let’s ask ourselves in Jesus name, “Do you love the Lord?”  “Do you love the Savior?”  “Do you Love the One who died for you?”

Notice what this question was. 

It was a question concerning Peter’s love. 

He did not say, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you fear Me?” 

He did not say, “Do you admire Me?”  or “Do you idolize Me?” 

And this wasn’t a question regarding his faith. 

He didn’t say, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you believe in Me?” 

But he asked him another question, “Do you love Me?” 

I believe that love is the very best evidence of holiness. 

Love is the greatest of all the graces that a person can possess, and therefore it is the best evidence of holiness. 

I believe that faith is the foundation of our salvation, and that love springs from it. 

If we have faith, it is a sure sign that we are God’s children; but there are also the gifts of God and they are also sure signs as well, but many of them cannot be seen by others. 

Love is perhaps the best evidence and probably the easiest to detect. 

The person, who lacks love, must also lack faith. 

If love is little, that is a sign that faith is little; but a persons who believes much also loves much. 

If love is little then respect for God will be little and the courage to serve God will be little. 

Every gift of God that comes to the believer by the grace of God, is rooted in the faith of the believer, but they are also tied to our capacity to love. 

So if love is weak, they must also be in a weak state. 

That is why Our Lord asked Peter that question, “Do you love Me?” 

It is interesting to note that Jesus didn’t ask Peter what he had done. 

He didn’t say, “Simon Peter, how much have you cried?  How often have you attempted to make amends for your great sin?  How often have you got down on your knees to ask for My forgiveness for denying Me?  You said that you would follow Me to prison and to death, but instead, you disowned Me.” 

But Jesus didn’t ask about his works, instead, He asked about the state of his heart. 

He asked, “Do you love Me?” 

I believe that we are given this conversation to teach us something important. 

It is that even though works flow out of love, love is greater than works, and that works without love are not worth doing. 

We may shed some tears, but they are not tears that God will accept unless we love Him. 

We may do some good works, but they will not be accepted by God unless they are done out of love for Him. 

We can observe communion and give our tithes, but unless we do these things out of love for God they will not be accepted.  So the question which Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” is one that goes into the heart, and causes the person to examine his own heart, because if he does not love, everything else is wrong. 

So Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

My friends, we have a reason to ask ourselves the same question. 

If our Savior was nothing more than a mere man, He might doubt if we love Him at all. 

Let me just remind you of the many things which give us a reason to ask this question, “Do you love Me?” 

Think with me for a moment about the sins of last week. 

Don’t they make you doubt whether you love the Lord? 

So, let’s look at the sins of last week. 

Did you speak any words in anger? 

Did you give anyone an angry look? 

If you did either of these things, the Lord might have tapped you on the shoulder and asked, “Do you love Me?” 

Could you have mumbled to yourself a complaint about someone, because something had gone wrong and you blamed God for it? 

Could our Savior have looked at us out of pity and asked, “Why did you say that?  Don’t you love Me?” 

I believe that both you and I have been guilty of various sins this past week, and I am sure they are grounds for self-examination. 

But let’s keep this thought in mind, “It is His love for us, not our love for Him that is the basis for our salvation, our security, and our discipleship.” 

Have you ever thought to yourself, “If I loved Him more, would I sin less?  Or Can I love Him, since I have broken so many of the commandments?  Have I lived a life that points others toward Christ?  Haven’t I wasted a lot of hours during the week when I could be witnessing for Christ?  Haven’t I wasted many precious hours watching television when instead I could have spent that time in prayer?  How many words have I wasted in idle conversation that could have been used to tell someone about Christ?  How many foolish things have I been involved in?  How many sins have I done without being sorry?  How many lies have I covered over?  How many times have I broken my Savior’s heart?  How have I dishonored the cause of Christ?  How have I in some ways disgraced my profession of love to Him?” 

I hope that you will ask these questions of yourself, my friends, and say, “Is this how I should treat my Savior?” 

But now let me put another question to you, “Does your worldliness ever make you doubt?” 

How have you spent your time from Monday morning until Saturday night? 

Have you taken hardly any time to think about Him? 

Have you ever pushed Jesus into a corner to make room for your pleasure? 

Have you put Him away for five minutes to make room for your own plans? 

How very little time we give to Him. 

We occupy ourselves with the news, the weather, the television, entertainment, sporting events, and social conversation. 

Think about it; was there even a day last week where your goal was to think about Him, and to read your Bible, and to pray? 

Did you crave to spend time with your Savior? 

No, probably not, and perhaps there was a whole day go by and you scarcely thought of Him, until the end of the day, and then you could only scold yourself, and ask, “How could I have forgotten Christ today?  I have not thought of Him; I have not walked with Him.  I knew He would set with me at meals and when I am in conversation, and that He would lay with me when I nap, and that He would walk with me down the halls; but I left Him in my room and forgot Him all day long.” 

Surely, when we remember our worldliness, we must say to ourselves, “Dear Lord, You might as well ask, “Do you love Me?”

Now think about this, “How cold were your prayers last week?” 

I know you have prayed, since you can’t live without it, because you’re a Christian, and prayer is as necessary to you as your breath. 

But how little you breathed last week. 

Do you remember how you hurried through your prayers on Monday morning, and how obsessed you were on Tuesday night? 

Last week there was little time for prayer, so ask yourself, “Do my prayers make me doubt?” 

I can honestly say that there are times that my prayers make me doubt. 

Those are the times when I struggle to pray. 

It seems at those times that there are a hundred thoughts racing through my mind and there are distractions all around me. 

And there are times when I desire to come close to God, and to cry my eyes out and to seek His forgiveness, but instead there is little faith and little repentance. 

It is sad, but I think that prayer can make me more unbelieving than anything else, because I can believe over the top of my sins, but I can just barely believe over the top of my prayers. 

Prayer is so cold when we are cold. 

Of all things that are bad when cold, I think prayer is the worst, because it becomes a mockery, and instead of warming the heart it makes it colder than before, and it dampens the spirit, and fills it full of doubts as to whether I am accepted by Christ. 

Look at your prayers and if they appear cold, ask yourself this question, “Isn’t your Savior right to ask, “Do you love Me?”

Now, I have asked all of these questions, because I have been asking them of myself, and I think that if you’re honest with yourself you would have to admit that you need to ask yourself the same questions. 

I don’t approve of people who say, “I know that I love Christ and I never have a doubt about it,” because we often have reasons to doubt ourselves. 

A believer’s strong faith is not a strong faith in his love for Christ-it is a strong faith in Christ’s love for him. 

There is no faith that always believes that it loves Christ. 

Strong faith has its conflicts and a true believer will often wrestle with his feelings. 

The Christian can believe when he feels no love; because he can believe that Christ loves his soul, and he can come to Him with naked faith. 

And even if we have no evidence of our love, we can come without evidence, just as we are, and lay hold of Him with faith alone. 

Even though there are no signs of our love we can trust in the Lord, but to be certain at all times that we love the Lord is another matter, about which we should continually question ourselves. 

Now we come to the second thing, which is A DISCREET ANSWER. 

“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” 

Simon gave a very good answer. 

Jesus asked him in the first place whether he loved him better than the others did. 

At one time, Simon was more than a little proud, and he did think he was better than the other disciples, but not now, so he evaded the question. 

He would not say that he loved better than the others. 

And I am sure that no one here would think that they love better than any other child of God. 

I believe that the more grace that a person receives the lower he will be in his own esteem and the less likely he will be to claim superiority in love for Jesus. 

But note that when Simon answered, he did not speak of the quantity of his love, but of the quality of it. 

He would assert that he loved Christ, but not that he loved Christ better than the others. 

His answer was like this, “I cannot say how much I love you; but You know all things; You know that I do love You.  That’s all I can claim: as to the quantity of my love I can’t say much about that.”

Peter answered very well, but some of us if we would have answered would have answered foolishly. 

We would have said, “Lord, I have been humble, faithful, and honest; I have mentioned your name to others, and I have helped them when there was a need; so Lord, I think I can say I love You?” 

We would tell Jesus about our good works and make that evidence of our love. 

But what we should say is; “Lord, You have seen me during this week; You have seen My good works.  I am thankful because I know they are Your gifts, but I think they are proofs of my love.” 

That would have been a very good answer. 

You do not always love your Lord, so it would be foolish to tell Him that. 

You know what the Master might have said to Peter if he had appealed to his works? 

He could have said, “You may preach, even though you don’t love Me; you may pray and still not love me; you can do all these works, and not love Me.  I don’t want the evidences of your love; I want the fact of it.” 

Most likely, everyone here would not have answered like this, you would say, “I love You, Lord; my heart is on fire for You; I would die for You.” 

But that would be a foolish answer, because these are feelings and these are the types of things which Peter said many times. 

He trusted his feelings, and would have sunk into the sea, if Christ had not caught his hand. 

If it had not been for the grace of God, his soul would have been damned when cursing and swearing he denied Christ. 

But Peter was wise, and he left it to Christ, who knew that he loved Him.

Now, could we today give the answer Peter gave? 

If Christ walked into our meeting, could we appeal to His knowledge of our hearts, that we all love Him? 

The hypocrite might say, “Lord my friends know I love You, because they see me pray and read my Bible, and I talk to them about You,” but he couldn’t say, “Lord You know that I love You.” 

You know in your heart that you have been lazy in bible study, in prayer, and in witnessing. 

The question that was asked of Peter was never put to Judas. 

The Lord loved Peter so much that He had to have Him back, or He would never have appealed to his love. 

Do not brag, but if you can sincerely say that God has given you a sincere love for the Savior, ask Him to increase your love from a grain to a mountain, then you can say, “Lord, You know all things, You know I love You.”

And now, here is A DEMONSTRATION REQUIRED-“Feed My lambs: feed My sheep.” 

That was Peter’s demonstration. 

It may not be our way of showing our love. 

There are different ways for different disciples. 

Let me list some of the ways you can show your love for the Savior:

1. Pray for others. 

Some people never pray, because they are lost, so they need to be prayed for. 

Others have troubles that need prayer. 

Pray about everything.

2. Encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Tell them that you love them. 

Listen to what they have to say, and when you speak let it be nothing but good.
 
3. Help those who have needs, as much as you possess the ability to help. 

I will let you fill in the rest, because I know you know how to do good works. 

Just remember, don’t say you love Christ and never do anything for Him. 

We must let our good works be evidence of our sincere love for Christ. 

Do all you can to the best of your ability, and if you ever do too much for Christ come and tell me, and tell the angels-but you never will do that. 

He gave himself for you; give yourself to Him. 

I have been asking you to search your own hearts, because our love for Christ must be nourished where it was first kindled. 

Look to the heart of Jesus for help to remove any hindrances to your love. 

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the things of Jesus, and to awaken your strong desire to serve Him. 

Yield yourself to Christ, and from now on let the proofs of your love for Him be your good works.

And if you have never given yourself to Christ, I can only pray for you, that God the Savior would reveal himself to your heart; that you would be brought to give yourself to Him. 

May our Heavenly Father bless all of you, for Christ’s sake! 

Amen.

Would appreciate your questions and comments

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http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

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