Presence Devotion #35
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
In this scripture, Jesus gives Simon Peter the opportunity to reaffirm his love for Him, to overcome his failure to acknowledge Christ on the night of betrayal. Peter was grieved by the third time Jesus asked him, knowing that Jesus Himself knew all things and saw the heart of every man. The Lord, knowing what was in Peter’s heart, knew that at the time he had spoken his denial, it was not his faith that had let him down, but his courage.
Now, Jesus did not only ask Peter three times if he loved Him. When Peter responded that he did, after every response Jesus dealt him an instruction; “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.” He was put in charge of making sure that the people of God were fed the Word and nurtured in Its upholding and understanding. He could not possibly take this charge however, if he did not love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. If it was not in his mind to glorify God in everything, then he would not have been qualified.
Knowing that, when we have ascertained and made a declaration that we love Christ, action must come with it. Love is not just a feeling—love is a verb, a doing word. If we say we love Jesus, then it will be evident in our behaviour.
Say you have been given charge over a flock of sheep. You may say that you love the sheep, and notice that they are hungry. “They should be fed,” you might say, and consider yourself to have been thoughtful and caring in having noticed. But noticing is not enough to identify you as having been caring. For if you do not act to feed them, will they not die of hunger? Then you will say, I cared, but they still died. But you did not really care. Love is a doing word. It involves action and if you notice that one is going unfed, then feed him. For Christ loves the Church and He loves people. He is the great Shepherd and we are His lambs. Now as we remain here, being the representation and body of Christ, the mantle has been passed to us, as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the works He has set out for us to do. Therefore, as we have been instructed by Christ to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34), then we can only do this by acting in accordance with what we see needs doing.
What have you been commissioned to do for Christ? Upon the declaration of your love for Him, do you accept the instruction placed before you. Is it with sincerity of heart that you can say you love the Lord your God?
Perhaps you feel you lack courage, just as Simon Peter did. Jesus knows your heart. He knows you love Him and though you may not always be able to carry out what is asked of you, He sees that your deep desire is to love, please, worship and glorify Him. Even though you may miss opportunities, remember that you are made new every day and Jesus will never cast you off or disqualify you.