…, son/daughter of …, do you love me more than these?
By Pastor Samuel Obafaiye
Text: John 21: 1-23
(Where the first …. is your first name and the second ….. is your father’s first name).
This was the third time that Jesus would appear to His disciples. First time was when Thomas was not around, at the second time Thomas was present. Not too long after that Peter declared to those with him that he was going fishing. The people with him also said they would follow him.
Throughout the night, they toiled and caught nothing. Jesus then appeared to them like an elder wanting food. He told them to cast the net on the right side (weak side) and fishes came. Then they realised that He was the one.
What make Peter to say I go fishing?
– He thought Jesus would continually guarantee their physical provision by His physical presence. With Jesus miracles come gifts and appreciations. Now that Jesus was no longer present physically, they thought the end has come for their provision.
– He thought they were idle or bored. Just lazy around when there is something they know how to do. They were to be considering how to be fishers of men, rather than going back to fishes.
– May be their family were putting pressure on them as they were no longer travelling on missionary trips and relations were coming for assistance. Peter for example had mother in law. Could be that Jesus used to send money to them.
– May be the pressure was too much for Peter as a spokesperson for the apostle. Others might be looking unto him to do something since Jesus was no longer around.
– Are you finding it difficult to demonstrate your utmost love for God because of provision, career, family or friend? Which of them do you love more than Jesus?
What are the ‘these’ that Jesus was referring to? I have always thought that Jesus was referring to the fishing business; some think Jesus may be referring to the other apostles.
But whether it’s the comparison with his career or with his colleagues, Jesus was still asking Peter to ascertain the extent of love he had for Him.
– What can you compare the love you have for God with? If you put it aside your career, or place it aside your associates. Which love is greater?
Jesus asked Simon the question very directly, mentioning his father’s name, because there was another Simon the Canaanite. God will check on us individually. There is nothing like laying claim to your parent’s love for God or your spouse’s love for God. Everyone will speak for him/herself.
Why did Jesus pick on Peter?
– Peter has always been the spoke person; he was like a backbone of the team. If there was fault with his love level, then the rest should know that they have a lot of work to do (Lk 23:31).
– Peter had claimed that even if others loved Jesus less, he would never do that (Mk. 14:27-31). But he denied Jesus, swore that he never knew Him and went back to what Jesus had called him out from.
– In my few years as a Pastor, I have seen how many Christian demonstrate their love for God.
No settlement and very passionate; but as soon as they have a form of settlement, they forget God.
No job and very committed; once they got a job, it will be an excuse not to be committed again.
No spouse and very available; but once married, their spouse take all the available time away.
No child and very present; but one child in the family generate a serious absent level in their lives. Etc. What such people are saying to God is that they love those things more than Jesus and sadly He knows.
Why did Jesus based his question on love?
It is the basis of what other Christian attributes are based. You can’t talk about faith, giving, sacrifice, etc., without demonstrating basic love first. No wonder people grumble when they need to give time or money to things of God, it’s because they don’t love God even though they might claim they do.
Note that Jesus was trying to let Peter realised the scale of his love for Him, but Peter was wise by avoiding that, he could only claim that at least he loved Jesus.
– We are all in church today because we have some sort of love for God, but how much love and love over what things is what God is interested in.
While Jesus was trying to address Peter’s total commitment, sacrifice, duty, loyalty and service. Peter was trying to narrow it down to affection which is based on feelings alone. Most times we have good feelings for someone when things are ok, but other times when things are not ok between us, we don’t love them. God does not appreciate such love. He demands unconditional love from us.
God wants to know if He is just prominent in our lives or He is preeminent.
Note that Jesus did not reject Peter’s answer that He didn’t think so. The point to address was not whether Peter loves Jesus or not. It was about how much love. Was that love greater than fishing? Was it greater than the love of others around him?
– The challenge or the question for us today is, will Jesus actually agree that we love Him? Will He say, “Keep quiet, you love me not?”
At the second and third time, Jesus took Peter on the challenge with the affection he claimed he had. Just to let him know that it was still not enough. Again with his heart distressed, Peter used wisdom to stay with Jesus judgement. We need to ask ourselves again, ‘Do I really love God?’
Jesus did not leave Peter in confusion of how he wanted him to show his love. It was to feed His lambs and sheep. That was a Divine assignment for Peter to demonstrate his love. Yours might be different, as lamb can’t feed lambs, talk less of sheep.
But how much lessons in word and lifestyle have you teach believers who are younger in faith than you? For those of us who are leaders, what do you feed your team with? Our children need people who could volunteer to feed them, have you ever consider that honourable service? What is the sort of spiritual diet we feed our biological children with?
Note that Jesus said “feed MY lamb/feed MY sheep” and not “feed THE lamb/feed THE sheep”. Many love what they do, like teaching or singing, just because they have the skill or talent. But do they love doing it because of Jesus is another thing.
Are you doing anything in the church? Is it because you just enjoy doing it or because you had to do it for the love of Christ?
What can you show Jesus that you love Him?
– Do you love sinners? How many have you told about the gift of salvation? When was the last time you came for group evangelism, since you don’t do personal one?
– Do you obey Christ? You can’t love the person you don’t obey. If you love me, you will keep my commandment.
– Do you always want to be with Jesus? Check you prayer pattern, your personal study, your meditation. You can’t love who you can’t stay with.
– Do you love your church? How is your giving pattern? How much can you spend for Jesus’ church? You can’t spend on something that belongs to someone you don’t love.
– Do you steal from Jesus? Many do not pay their tithes and they claim they love Jesus. How can you steal from whom you love? No amount of offering you gave can bribe Jesus that you stole from Him.
– Do you love the brethren? What have you done for anyone lately? Check your commitment to fellowship with the brethren and sharing communion together. Are you always there?
– What service do you render to Christ? How can you claim you love whom you hate to serve.
If you are here and have relegated Jesus to the bottom of your life. It may appears as life goes on as normal, it’s because Jesus is still showing you mercy. He gave Peter plenty of fishes, He made the fire by Himself, He roasted the fishes, He provided the bread and He dined with them. At the end of the dinner though, Peter received an unpleasant prophesy, which actually happened. May God not speak badly for you in Jesus name.
Father, have mercy on me. Help me to love you.
Father, help me to love you more. Let me not put anything above the love I have for you.