23 April 2003

Today we focus our attention to a most heart searching question concerning our love for Jesus. As our Lord questioned the heart of the apostle, let Him equally question ours today. Try to imagine that Jesus is sitting next to you and has spoken the same words to you as He did to Peter: "Lovest thou me?" Peter was of the highest office in the church. The question was not to a nominal follower of Christ. It is indeed a question for us all. Those who have sacrificed much are not exempt from the question for Peter had "Left all" to follow Jesus. Even the most zealous are subject to the inquiry for at one point, Peter was willing to follow Jesus, even to death. And even if we pressed the question to the point of being painful, we could not be censured, for Jesus asked Peter until it "grieved" him. It is good to comfort God's people, but many times heart searching grief is the ointment of the apothecary for our fickle hearts. As our Lord asked Peter the question, He called him by his unconverted name, Simon, reminding him of what grace had done for him. The question is fraught with suggestions and gets right down to what Christianity is all about. Lovest thou me? Loving Jesus is the funnel through which all of Christianity must flow. Jesus didn't say, "Are you sorry for denying me? Have you repented? Nor did He ask Peter what his future plans were. If Peter truly loved Jesus all of this would fall into place. He didn't ask Peter if he loved the church, the ordinances, the music or even the doctrine. For all of what we should do and be revolves around this one question, "Lovest thou me?" It is possible that we could love the wedding and forget all about the bridegroom; we could love the sanctuary and ignore the Light of it; we could love the feast and not hunger for the Bread of Life. We could go to the sanctuary because we would feel guilty if we didn't instead of going because we love Jesus. Yes, to all of the Peters who read this, our preaching, our praying and all of doing must be because we love Jesus. It is the best way to judge our own hearts and should be the motivating factor for any thing we do in the name of Christ and His cause. Our love for Christ is the root of our love for other Christians. No person is a Christian who does not love other Christians for "If a man say, I love God, and hateth is brother, he is a liar(I John 4:20). The apostle of love saw this to be true of the first Christians. Loving other children of God is one of the greatest evidences of our calling for "We know we that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Is there a hand we can not shake or a soul that we can not plead for. Lovest thou me? Our love for Christ is the wellspring for all true obedience "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments(I John 5:3). Our love is measured by the degree of our obedience, or walking in the light we have been given. Our good works can never pay for our sin, only the blood of Christ can do that, yet those who truly love Jesus will be sure to perform them out of love. Yes, Jesus knew that Peter loved him before the three fold answer was given. Yet, he allowed Peter the opportunity to tell Him to His face. And knowing that Peter loved Him thus, He knew that Peter would want to do something for Him who had done so much for Peter. Thus He replied, "Feed my sheep". He has given all of His Peters churches to attend, songs to sing and brothers and sisters to pray for and minister to. Lovest thou me?