Questions Jesus Asks

John 21:15-24

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, 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 a second time, “Simon, son of John, 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 John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Lily Magnolia | London, England | April 2023

I’ve overcome it, but for years I had difficulty saying that I loved God. I didn’t hate God. But to say I loved him seemed presumptuous. For if I loved God surely I would obey him. I would put him truly first in my life. I would be a saint. I didn’t want to presume to say that I did all those things. I knew all too well that I was a sinner. I didn’t think I could claim to love God truly. I fell far too short in that regard.

Since then, however, I’ve embraced the idea more fully. In fact there came a time when I was facing some large challenges in life and ministry that I declared my love for God unashamedly. Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heartbecame my favorite hymn. Many a morning I would go to the sanctuary and sing that hymn, with the the thought of Martin Luther, “He who sings prays twice.”

Speaking of Luther, he once said, “Love God?!? I hated him!” He struggled so much with his sinful nature, God’s justice, and the conundrum: Is God just? Yes. Does he punish sin? Yes. Am I a sinner? Yes. Must he punish me? Yes. His wise confessor turned him to scripture where Luther discovered the beautiful truth that “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). He learned more fully of God’s love for him and all people and his grace in forgiving and saving us for the sake of Jesus, and not for anything we have done.

God’s love for us inspires our love for him. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” We’ll deal with the “more than these” tomorrow. But let’s just consider Jesus’ question, “Do you love me?” Peter boldly says, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” Three times Jesus asks. Three times Peter affirms his love for Jesus.

I believe there is a fine line between being quick to claim that we love Jesus and failing to confess our love for him altogether. It’s not a simple question. It’s one we should ponder deeply. Do I love Jesus? Why would I say that? Is there any evidence of that love in my life? What does it mean to love Jesus?

My answer to these questions is summed up in the answer to the final question. To love Jesus is to desire his presence, guidance, mercy, grace, truth, love, favor, and blessing above all things. It means that I recognize that Jesus and all he is and all he wants from me is my highest good. It means I deeply need and joyfully acknowledge his love for me, a lost and condemned sinner apart from his mercy and salvation.

Do you love me? Jesus asks. Yes. Not as fully as I ought. Not perfectly. But I do love you more than… (How will you fill in that blank?)

Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart

1 Lord, thee I love with all my heart;
I pray thee, ne’er from me depart,
with tender mercy cheer me.
Earth has no pleasure I would share;
yea, heav’n itself were void and bare
if thou, Lord, wert not near me.
And should my heart for sorrow break,
my trust in thee can nothing shake.
Thou art the portion I have sought;
thy precious blood my soul has bought.
Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Lord, my God and Lord,
forsake me not! I trust thy word.

2 Yea, Lord, ’twas thy rich bounty gave
my body, soul, and all I have
in this poor life of labor.
Lord, grant that I in ev’ry place
may glorify thy lavish grace
and help and serve my neighbor.
Let no false doctrine me beguile;
let Satan not my soul defile.
Give strength and patience unto me
to bear my cross and follow thee.
Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Lord, my God and Lord,
in death thy comfort still afford.

3 Lord, let at last thine angels come,
to Abr’ham’s bosom bear me home
that I may die unfearing;
and in its narrow chamber keep
my body safe in peaceful sleep
until thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
that these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, thy glorious face,
my Savior and my fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend,
and I will praise thee without end.

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