March 29, 2008

Do You Love Me?

John 21:15-19

The third time [Jesus] said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
John 21:17


When someone becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, I often ask that person: “What is more important for you to know—that you love God, or that God loves you?” The reply is never long in coming because we instinctively know that God’s love is more important. Our love fails and disappoints at times, but God’s love never fails. God loves us “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Sometimes I ask my wife, “Do you love me?” and she doesn’t answer. (Husbands just don’t get it.) But I continue to ask, and eventually she says that I should not ask, “Do you love me,” but I should simply say, “I love you.” But I keep asking, not because I doubt her love but because I love to hear her say, “Of course I love you!”

Peter had denied Jesus three times. Now Jesus asked Peter three times whether he loved him.

Notice that Jesus does not bring up Peter’s denial. Not once does Jesus say, “I told you that you would deny me” (see John 13:38). And Jesus does not ask, “Simon, why did you deny me?” Instead, he asks a question that looks to the future: “Simon, do you love me?”

The issue is not first of all about denial; it’s about love. Our moral failures or acts of disobedience are first of all results of a lack of love. But the main issue is not that we did wrong; it’s about where our heart is: Do we love Jesus?

Lord, I don’t always show that I love you. But thank you for asking. Deep down in my heart I know that I love you, because you first loved me. In your name I pray. Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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