Updated: May 8, 2019
“Simon, son of John, do you love Me…?”
Can you hear it?
Read the above question again…
Can you hear Jesus’ heart in what He’s asking? Better yet… Can you feel His heart?
I truly believe that this is THE number one question Jesus is asking this year: Do you love Me?
It’s a personal question directed at each of us individually in the same way it was directed at Peter.
Prior to this question, you’d do well to remember that it was Peter who denied Jesus three times when asked if he was a part of the Son of Man’s entourage.
Immediately following his third denial and just before the weight of guilt and shame crashed in around him and filled his heart, the rooster crowed… harkening the fact that Jesus’ prophecy was completely accurate and had come to pass.
As a result of feeling defeated, disillusioned, disqualified, and discouraged, Peter returns to the one thing he knows… the one thing he was taught to do… the one thing he was good at: fishing.
It’s when he’s fishing that we first read about Jesus’ capturing him through a miracle involving fish and it’s when he’s fishing again that we see Jesus capturing Peter once more through the same miracle.
What I love about this interchange between Peter and Jesus the second time Peter is fishing is found in the fact that Jesus didn’t show up and say, “I told you so. I told you that you’d deny Me, but you didn’t believe Me.”
Rather, Jesus asks him one simple question: “Do you love Me?”
That’s really all that matters, doesn’t it?
I’ve heard it taught that the reason Jesus asked Peter this question the same amount of times that Peter denied Jesus was in an effort to offset Peter’s denials. That may very well be true, but I think Jesus’ question carries greater depth than just simply being a counterbalance.
Loving God is our destiny. It’s what we are made to do.
It’s when we love something else more than Him — including our own lives — that we get ourselves into trouble.
What we love most will always have the greatest influence in our lives.
What we love most is what we will serve.
What we love most is what we ultimately live for and what we’d be willing to die for.
The first miracle Jesus’ performed caused Peter to leave everything behind and follow Him. He left his family, his occupation, his source of income, and all that was normal, familiar, comfortable, and predictable.
Peter was gripped by the overwhelming kindness Jesus had shown him in spite of his being a ‘sinful man.’ (see Luke 5:8).
It’s the kindness of God that causes us to bow low and change our minds about how we are living and who we are living for.
It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t already know of Peter’s condition… It’s that He was in the world not counting men’s sins against them.
It was this very miracle that modeled what Jesus could do for Peter. Peter had been providing for himself through this learned trade his whole life, but in a moment, Peter learned that Jesus was His provider and that He alone would care for Him.
And here lies the rub.
Most of us love God for what He can do for us. Not many of us love Him for who He is.
When I love God for what He can do for me, I wind up resurrecting what should remain dead: ME.
When I love God for what He can do for me, I wind up loving ME.
This is what I believe Peter was confronted with when he denied Jesus.
Make no mistake, it was Peter who rebuked Jesus when the Lord told His disciples that He was going to suffer and die at the hands of the leaders and rulers. Through his rebuttal, Peter was declaring, “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m not going to let you die.” (see Matthew 16:21-23).
Did Peter love Jesus? I have no doubt of that… But his denials prove that he loved his own life more than the One He was called to love most.
Peter’s denials preserved the very thing he was called to lay down: his life.
When we love anything more than Him, we are unworthy of Him (see Matthew 10:37-38).
He wants to be first and He wants to be loved.
To think that God wants my love rocks me.
Loving Him isn’t something I can do on my own strength. Rather, He gives me the ability as I receive the love that He has for me.
Jesus twice performed the same miracle in the life of Peter to simply capture him again… only this time, Peter wouldn’t simply love Jesus for what Jesus could do for him. He would love Him for Him.
We know this to be true in the way Peter lived and died from that time onward.
It’s love that carries us across the finish line.
It’s love that fulfills our destiny.
You can’t love a doctrine or a teaching. Those things won’t love you back. You can only love a person.
Why does God want to capture, grip, and captivate you again this year?
The answer is simple: He wants to be loved by us to the fullest.
There’s a wedding coming… and I don’t know about you, but I want to deeply love the One I’ll be joined to for all of eternity.
- Brian Connolly, Faith Like Birds Ministries