November 26, 2019

Do You Love Me?

John 21:15-19

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

—  John 21:15

After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and some other disciples went fishing. All night they fished but caught nothing. A man on the beach called out, telling them to fish on the starboard side of their boat. What difference would that make? But they did as he said, and their net filled with fish!

John said, “It’s the Lord!” And Peter jumped out of the boat to wade ashore. He found Jesus cooking a breakfast of fish.

Jesus had unfinished business with Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times during his trial (John 18:15-18, 25-27). After the third denial, Jesus had looked straight at him, and Peter had gone out “and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62). Now Jesus was back and wanted to restore Peter. “Simon,” he said, “do you love me more than these?” More than fishing? More than the friends he went fishing with? Peter could only answer, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus asks the question three times, and it pounds Peter’s soul. “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Tears roll down his cheeks. Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” And he graciously restores Peter, saying, “Follow me!”

Jesus redeems sinners and restores his disciples. He asks us, “Do you love me more than anything else—your career, possessions, friends, and even family? When we answer “Yes,” we know he has redeemed and restored us.

Yes, Lord Jesus, we love you, and we want to love you more than anything. Help us to feed your sheep and follow you. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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