He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Maybe Jesus kept asking for Peter’s benefit. As Peter points out, Jesus knows all things. He already knows how Peter feels about Him. So does He want Peter to look down deep into his heart and discover for himself the love he has for his Lord? Does He want Peter to see that love is more than a feeling and more than an idea and about so much more than a path to get something for himself?
If he looked inside, he would see that this love budding within him for Jesus Christ would take him on a journey he could have never imagined, but that journey would cost him something. Because this love meant, at the core, that he was to impact others. He had to do something. Maybe Peter was feeling that he was disqualified from his previous calling to be a fisher of men, and so he goes fishing instead. But being confronted with this question from Jesus shows him that Jesus’ plan for his life hasn’t changed, and neither, really, had Peter’s love diminished simply because he’d failed.
Maybe Jesus also comes to us in different ways and asks that question: “Do you love Me?” And as He repeats it at different times in our lives, it gets us thinking: Do we? And if we do, then we must be willing to do whatever He asks of us, whether we feel capable or qualified or not. We must show our love in action. We must obey and serve God. We must devote our lives to Him and fulfill His purpose for us. And we must also understand that no matter what we do, Jesus’ love for us never changes.
It may be a good exercise to examine our own hearts from time to time, to look inside and find if our love for Jesus is still burning as brightly as it used to. When we stop to think about it, we can see if our motives are born out of love or something else, if we’re making choices and living our lives based on that foundational love for Jesus. Often, what we will face ahead of us will require a heart of love devoted to Jesus, because the path will get steep and we’ll grow weary and hardships and attacks will come. But let’s not give up. Instead, may we refocus our hearts on Jesus and go out and do what we’re supposed to do.