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Do You Love Me?

(John 21:15-17)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.
Last time,
We saw Jesus third appearance
To seven of His disciples
As they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

They had fished all night,

But in Gods providence
Had caught nothing.

Its not that they werent supposed to be fishing

After Jesus death,
Their former means of support had been cut off.
They now had to fish to provide for their needs.

They came up short

So that Jesus might again reveal
His love and care for them
To show them He was still with them,
And that He would still provide for them.

Not only did He bless them with many fish

To take care of their current needs
And provide them with the means
To travel to Jerusalem
Which they would shortly do
As they would wait for the Spirit
He also continued to care for them
By serving them a meal of fish and bread.

B. Preview.
But now we see
There was another reason for Jesus appearance:
There was still some outstanding business
He had to take care of with Peter
That had to do with his denials.

Peter knew Jesus still loved him

When Jesus appeared to the ten
And then to the eleven,
He received and embraced all of them,
Including Peter
But there was some question
As to his standing and future usefulness
In Christs kingdom
At least there was in Peters mind

As there also is in our own
Whenever we fall into sin.

Jesus now addresses that question

To show Peter that he was forgiven
And that He still intended to use him
In the work of His kingdom.

II. Sermon.
A. First, we see when this conversation took place:
After they had finished their meal.
We read in verse 15, So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon
Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?

Jesus knew that what He had to say

Would make Peter a bit uneasy,
So He didnt speak with him
Until they had finished
So as not to spoil his meal.

Peter had seen the Lord twice before.

And both times, Jesus had received him
And hadnt rebuked him.
But he knew there was still something between them
His having denied Him three times.

And he didnt take this lightly.

He knew he deserved to be removed from Jesus close circle.

So far, he hadnt said anything to Jesus,
And Jesus hadnt said anything to him.
Its quite likely that Peter didnt know
Just where he stood with Jesus.
He hoped for the best
Since Jesus had received him with the rest
But was still afraid that Jesus was yet to deal with him.

Jesus didnt leave him doubting

It would have been cruel to do so
But now mercifully clears the air
By telling Peter that he still had a place among the disciples
And that He still intended to use him.

Jesus hadnt spoken to Peter

At His first or second appearance
To give him some time to think about what he had done
Sometimes the Lord will withdraw a short distance
To allow us time to reflect and learn from our sins
Before He breaks in with His love and mercy.

We should note
That while Peter was kicking himself

For his failure to stand up for his Lord
During His time of suffering,
Jesus never scolded him for what he had done,
Or even spoke directly to him about it.
Even now He will speak to him indirectly
Since He knew Peter had repented
Not only to let him know that He had forgiven him,
But that He loved Peter as much as He ever had.

Here Jesus shows us His continuing love

Towards those who are His towards us
When we fall into sin:
That He will bring us to repentance,
And that He will restore us.

He also shows us here by His example,

How we should be willing to restore
Our brothers and sisters that fall
With the same kind of gentleness.

B. Second, we see the questions Jesus asks Peter.

He asks Peter three times whether he loves Him,

And Peter answers three times that he does
With just a few variations.

1. Jesus asks the first time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than
Notice Jesus calls him, Simon, son of John, or Barjona
The same name Jesus called him by
When He warned him about Satans impending temptation.
We read in Luke 22:31, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded
permission to sift you like wheat.
He doesnt call him, Peter
The name He had given him
Because he had lost that strength and stability
That the name Cephas or Peter represented.
He didnt take this name away,
But He didnt use it here either.

He asks him, Do you love Me more than these?

Before He calls Peter to the work He has for him,

He first asks the most basic question
The one that would show whether or not
He was genuinely His
But also for what must be there
If Peter was ever to serve his Lord as he should:
Do you love Me?

But there was another reason

Jesus asks this question:
Because of Peters denials
How can you say you love Me,
When just a short time ago
You denied three times
That you even know Me?

When we do things
That are the opposite of what we say we believe,
We shouldnt be offended
If our sincerity is called into question.
But notice again Jesus gentleness
He doesnt accuse him directly,
But questions him indirectly.

The question Jesus asks Peter is interesting on another level:

He didnt ask,
Have you wept over your sin?
Have you fasted?
Have you tried to make amends?
He asks, Do you love Me?
As if Hes saying,
If you love Me, Peter,
Thats all that matters;

Then all that youve done is forgiven,
And we will say nothing more about it.
It doesnt matter what we might do
To try to make up for what weve done
We cant make it up
All that matters is if we love Him:
If we do, we are forgiven.

When Jesus told Simon the Pharisee

That the woman who was washing His feet with her tears
And drying them with her hair was forgiven,
He didnt say she was because she cried much,
But because she loved much.

If you love the Lord,

It doesnt matter what you have done,
You are forgiven if you repent
Your love for Him is the evidence
That you are forgiven.

But it was also important that Peter love Him

Because of what Jesus was about to call Peter to do:
Namely, take care of His sheep.

Jesus loves His people so much

That He will only entrust their care
To those who love Him
If they love Him,
They will love what belongs to Him.

The same is true of us:

If we dont love Jesus,
Well never love His people
Or serve them the way we should
The way Jesus would.
Jesus said, This is My commandment,
That you love one another,
Just as I have loved you (John 15:12).

2. But notice,
Jesus doesnt merely ask Peter if he loves Him,
He asks, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?

This can mean one of two things:

Jesus could be asking first,
Do you love Me more than you love these others?
Do you love Me more than you love James or John,
Or Andrew, your brother?

We dont love Jesus as much as we should,

If we dont love Him far more
Than our most intimate friends.
On one occasion,
Jesus said to the crowd following Him,
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife
and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be
My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot
be My disciple (Luke 14:26-27).

Of course, whats true of people

Is also true of things:
Jesus may be asking Peter,
Do you love Me more
Than these boats and nets,
More than the pleasure you get from fishing,
More than what you gain by fishing?
Are you willing to leave these things behind
To do what Im calling you to do?

Is there anything you love more than Jesus?

Are you willing to do
What the rich young ruler could not do:
Sell all you possess,
Give to the poor,
And follow Jesus (Matt. 19:21)?

Jesus could also have been asking Peter,
Do you love Me more than these love Me?

Before Jesus was betrayed,

He said to His disciples, You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it
THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED. But after I have been raised, I will
go ahead of you to Galilee (Matt. 26:31-32).
How did Peter respond? Even though all may fall away because of You, I will
never fall away (v. 33).
Peter thought his love was stronger than the rest
That he would stand even though they all would fall.
Jesus asks him whether he still thought that was true.
Peters response indicates that he didnt.
When he answers, he simply says, You know that I love You (v. 15).

The most important thing is that we love Jesus

He will accept us, if we love Him;
Even if there are others who love Him more than we do.

C. This brings us to our third point: how Peter answers Jesus questions.

Jesus asks Peter this question three times,

And Peter responds the same way three times:
We read in verse 15, He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.
He says the same in verses 16 and 17.

As we just saw,


Peter no longer believes himself

To love Jesus more than the other disciples.
He now appears to be ashamed of what he said earlier.

We must strive to love Jesus most of all

More than our brothers and sisters in Christ
But we must always believe
That they love Him more than we do.
How can we not assume this,
When we know very well whats going on in our own hearts,
But we dont know whats going on in theirs?

But even though he no longer believes

That He loves Jesus more than his brothers,
He still professes to love Him
And to be devoted to Him,
Which is the evidence of his repentance.

Jesus had prayed that Peters faith would not fail (Luke 22:32),
And the Father answered that prayer:
And because his faith didnt fail,
Neither did his love
Genuine faith works by love (Gal. 5:6).

Jesus questions Peters love three times,


Each time Peter professes his love,

And his love proved to be genuine:
It moved him to devote his whole life to Jesus,
And to follow Him, even though it would mean his death,
As well see this evening.

One thing we should notice

Is that when Jesus
Asks Peter the third time
Whether he loves Him,
We read in verse 17, Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do
you love Me?

Was he grieved because Jesus asked him this question three times?
Was it because it reminded him of the three times he denied his Lord?
Its possible that this had something to do with it.
But its more likely he was grieved
Because Jesus changed the question the third time.

The first two times,

Jesus use the word agape
Which is the highest,
Most adoring and self-sacrificing kind of love.

Each time Peter responds,

He uses the word phileo,
Which means to be fond of,
Or to have a brotherly love for someone.
It is a lesser kind of love.

When Jesus asks the question the third time,

He uses the word Peter was using, phileo
Calling into question
Whether Peter loved Him
Even to that degree.
Thats why he was grieved.

But notice in his last answer,

Peter appeals to the fact
That Jesus knew this to be true:
We read in verse 17, And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know
that I love You.

The fact that Jesus knows all things

That He sees whats in our hearts
Might threaten those who really dont love Him
Because they cant hide this fact from Him
But its a comfort to those of us who do love Him:
Even though our lives dont measure up to what they should be,
The Lord still sees our love for Him.


D. Finally, we see the commission Jesus gives to Peter.

Having confirmed his love,

Jesus now commissions Peter
To care for His church
Those He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28)
The young and immature lambs,
And those that had grown to maturity:
He says in verse 15, Tend My lambs;
In verse 16, Shepherd My sheep;
And in verse 17, Tend My sheep.

Jesus wanted him to feed His people

The young and old
With the milk and meat of His Gospel,
And to do the work of a shepherd among them
To care for, protect and guide them
In the ways of Gods blessing.

When Jesus ascended into heaven,

He gave gifts to men (Eph. 4:8)
One of these were elders/pastors/teachers
To be a means of helping the flock grow-up
Into the image of their Lord,

And serve Him in His kingdom.

Why did Jesus single Peter out

And give him this commission?
Was it because He was intending
For Peter to be the earthly head of His church?
Peter never saw his commission in this way,
Nor did he ever claim this authority.

Instead, we should see that Jesus

Was restoring Peter after his fall and repentance
To the apostleship to which He had originally called him,
In a way that both he and his fellow disciples
Would know that this was their Lords will.

Peter had fallen into a very serious sin,

But it didnt mean his usefulness was over.
Jesus forgave him
And still entrusted to him
That which was most precious to Him:
His church.

When we fall into sin,

The Lord doesnt throw us away.

He works to bring us back
To the place where He can use us again,
Because He loves us.

This was true before we came to Christ:

Why did we ever turn from our sins
And trust in Him in the first place?
Its because He was seeking us.

And now that He has found us,

Will He ever reject us
Or cast us away?
He will always go after us,
Bring us back into His fold,
And into a place of usefulness
Because He loves us.

This is what we should be doing

For one another as well,
And for those outside the church.

If you dont know Him this morning,

If you havent trusted Him,
Seek for the Lords mercy and grace.

If you do, you will find
That He has been seeking you.

If you do know Him,

Prepare to meet Him at His Table:
He wants to strengthen and encourage you
To hold firm to His paths,
That you might do His will and be blessed. Amen.