14: This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
The study of relationships is subjective. There is no uniform standard scale by which a relationship is measured; and so when a person ask another if they love them and the answer comes back “Yes”; in reality the asker doesn’t know much more than when the question was asked. And so figuring out what a person’s true feelings are in some cases is kind of like nailing “Jell-o” to a wall.
Take a brief journey with me as we go back to that morning with Jesus standing on the shore calling to His disciples who had fished all night and was hungry and weary; having caught nothing for their trouble; to come and dine on a meal that he had prepared for them.
In order to appreciate what I’m about to tell you it will be necessary to start at the beginning: John 21:1ff
1: After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2: There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3: Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
What we need to understand from this scenario is that this wasn’t business as usual. The apostles had seen Jesus’ dead body hanging on the cross; they had seen Him buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea; all the horror and disillusionment that accompanied the crucifixion had flooded over them from that time to this. Things did not turn out the way that they had envisioned them; and so now they had to negotiate a new reality. Not only had they never experience such; they had never imagined what they witnessed.
I believe that when Peter said to the other disciples, in verse (3) “I go fishing”. That what he was in effect doing was trying to find a place where things made sense again. (He came from a previous existence where life was simple. All one had to do was fish or do whatever you made a living at and wait for tomorrow where you would start the process all over again.) But something larger was at stake. (I don’t know whether you know it or not but once you have truly come in contact with Jesus there is no going back to what you once were.)
Peter probably heard over and over in his mind the words that Jesus spoke as He told Peter that before the cock crowed he would deny Him three times. The tragic reality was that he did exactly that. This was even after Peter told Jesus that he would die before he would betray Him.
Do you see us in Peter? In the midst of good times it’s easy to tell someone that you love them, but when you go through one of those storms of life, (Like when you just had a disagreement; I love you is not the first thing that pops into your mind.) Stressful times and challenging times expresses feelings better than a “Hallmark” card. The only difference is they don’t always do it with kind, sweet expressions. If a person tells you that they love you in one instance and that they can’t stand the sight of you in another, what are you supposed to believe?
Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him for a reason: (15: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?) It wasn’t so that He could hear him say it; It was so Peter could show it by his actions; (He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
If we intend to express our love for Jesus then we must do it through our actions:
1. We must submit to Him.
2. We must surrender to Him.
3. We must sacrifice for Him.
To submit to Jesus requires us to come to grips with ourselves in a way that in not natural. We are selfish creatures. We have wills that are geared to lead us to do whatever it is that it desires. To submit to Jesus necessitates that we come to understand what it is that Jesus would have us to do. We must then do it. Not only do we do what He instructs, we actively seek His directions for our life.