The Test of Love

John 21:15-19

Loving God:

  1. Is a Priority – It is very important to Jesus that we love Him.
  • Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

 

  1. Is Personal – all three times, Jesus started with his name. “Simon, son of Jonas…”

God is asking you and He is asking me today – Do you love me?

We do not have the option to ignore the question.

We do not have the option of lying to Him about the answer.

We do not have the opportunity to put off giving Him and answer.

NOTE: He already knows the answer! SEE vs. 17 – And he said unto him, “Lord, thou knowest all things…”

 

  1. Is Proven – each question was followed with a direct command

We can say we love God all we want to – our life will prove it!

Jesus gave Peter a two-part Love Test.

 

I. The Comparison Test

 

Jesus asked the question in verse 15: “Lovest thou me more than these…”

There has been a lot of speculation about what Jesus was talking about.

Some have suggested that Jesus was referring to the other disciples. I think not!

Loving God is not a competitive sport.

In fact, the Bible clearly forbids us from comparing ourselves with others.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

 

Not only that, but the Bible is clear that some people will love God more than others.

  • Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

It is not God’s will for us to get preoccupied worrying about everybody else’s relationship with God.

Notice Peter’s tendency to divert Jesus’ attention in verse 20, 21 and start asking about John’s future.

  • 20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
  • 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Notice what Jesus said to Peter:

  • Vs 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

I am confident that Jesus was not asking Peter to compare his love for God to the love the other disciples had for Him.

So what was He talking about when He said “Lovest thou me more than these…”

I believe He was talking about this humongous pile of fish lying there. (153 to be exact).

NOTE: They didn’t eat any of the fish they caught – Jesus had already cooked their meal. (vs. 9)

This question to Peter was a very important question – “Lovest thou me more than these…”

 

Those fish represented several things:

1. Peter’s Career

The first time we see Simon Peter’s name mentioned in the Bible, it says this about him:

  • Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

2. Peter’s Comfort Zone

This was Peter’s default activity when he needed a diversion; something to occupy his mind; his stress relief valve!

  • John 21:3 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;

NOTE: Peter had left the fishing industry, but he had no problems getting his hand on a fishing ship IMMEDIATELY!

He still had ties – he still had the fishing charter boats on speed-dial.

He had been following Jesus for 3 ½ years, but he had kept his fishing license updated.

Verse 7 tells us that he had not given his fisher’s coat to Goodwill – he had left it where he could grab it in a hurry!

Fish was Peter’s OCCUPATION, and it was Peter’s PRE-OCCUPATION; It was his PASSION!!

If you are going to love Jesus, you are going to have to love Him MORE THAN ANYTHING AND ANYBODY!!!

  • Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

 

II. The Commitment Test

After each question, Jesus followed it with a way for Peter to prove his love.

Loving God will be evident by our obedience to Him.

  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. All three times Peter said yes.

All three times, Jesus gave Peter a way to prove his love – FEED MY SHEEP.

This goes a lot deeper than just a simple command.

If you leave to go on vacation, and you ask me to feed your pets, I might can do that.

If you drop your kids off at my house for a few hours and need me to give them lunch or a snack, that’s no problem.

But – Jesus telling Peter to FEED MY SHEEP was a huge test of Peter’s love for God.

You see – the sheep was HIS CHURCH.

  • Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Multiple times in God’s word, He refers to the CHURCH as “the flock”.

  • Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
  • 1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Jesus’ test of love involved a serious, unquestionable commitment to THE CHURCH.

  1. It involved an Identification of the Flock – Jesus said for him to feed MY flock. There is a difference!!!
  2. It involved an Intimacy with the Flock – you have to know their diet; what is healthy/unhealthy
  3. It involved an Interaction with the Flock – you don’t slip a plate under the door and walk away; you stay
  4. It involved an Investment in the Flock – feeding sheep is an all day long, every day job.

Conclusion: God is asking you and He is asking me this morning – do you love me?

He has given each of us a Love Test.

It has basically 2 questions:

  • How does your love for Him compare to all the other loves in your life?
  • Are you demonstrating your love for Him by a healthy, committed relationship with His flock?