“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.’” (John 21:15-17)
The first thing we need to notice about this passage is that Jesus is not simply talking to Peter. If Peter and the Disciples, as we believe, are the “founders” of this group of Jesus-followers we call “the church,” then Jesus is talking to all of us as their modern-day descendants. Jesus asks you and me, “Do you love me?” If we answer, “Yes, I love you,” then we are taking on the responsibility to feed and care for the flock – the people of God whom God has placed in our way. This is not a suggestion; it is a clear command from Jesus to act out what we claim to believe. As Peter, points out – Jesus knows all things, which means he knows whether or not we truly love him. The point of the story is to get us to recognize our love of God and translate that love into action and faithful stewardship.
Not long ago Graeme shared a book with me called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. The sub-title of the book is: “Overwhelmed by a Relentless God”.
At first I had to wonder what Chan meant by this statement about a relentless God. As I began to read the book, I was convicted by Chan’s understanding of how God sets the standards for our lives and that God is stubborn about guiding us to live by those standards. We need to realize that loving and worshipping God is difficult because it takes the focus off of “me”. We should spend less time thinking in terms of “me” and “mine” and much more time focused on “God” and “God’s”. Recent events in the news and in our political debate have caused me to see how much our culture is focused on “me” and “my agenda” and how little time we spend thinking about others and what is best for the many rather than what is best for “me”. How sad and how un-Christ-like that is.
Many people ask God why this thing or that thing happened. “Why are so many people starving, God? Feed them.” “Why are so many people poor, God? Help them.” “Why don’t our children know who you are, God? Teach them.” In reality, it is only God who has the right to ask us: “Why are so many people starving? Feed them!” “Why are so many people poor? Help them.” “Why don’t your children know me? Teach them.” “Why?”