“Jesus said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’”
Have you ever asked someone this question, or been asked? Can you recall what the circumstances were? Was it truly a question at face value, . . . because the one asking wasn’t sure of your love? Or were they reminding you of your own words?
Jesus asked one of His dearest friends this question, three times. And Jesus, being Who He was, of course knew the answer. He knew Peter’s heart. He knew that Peter loved Him. The question was a reminder for Peter himself . . . a heart-check of what Peter needed to think about.
I can almost picture Jesus, getting Peter’s attention, and asking the first question, “Do you love Me?” For Peter, it was a “no-brainer.” Peter’s quick response, “You know that I love You.” They’d just eaten a literal boat-load of fish, and it must have felt like ‘old times’ again. The horror of the crucifixion was over. Jesus was alive. . . they were back on the seashore again. Jesus responded back to Peter, “Feed My lambs.”
But Jesus asked again, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus told him, “Take care of my sheep.” Peter, the fisherman, was being asked by Jesus to do something he was not trained to do. He knew fish. He didn’t know lambs. Lambs are cute little things, and their mothers take care of them. Easy enough.
For a third time, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Following Peter’s strong affirmative response, Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.” He continued on with an ominous note of the shadows and danger that lay ahead for Peter. This wasn’t going to be easy. Fishing days were over. Peter would walk a very difficult, painful road in the years to come, and Jesus would not be physically with him.
When God calls a person into full-out commitment in following Him, He does not offer promises that it will be easy, rewarded on this earth, nor even acknowledged along that path. It will be difficult. It will be painful. The people with whom you began your journey will probably not even be with you. As all of those changes and losses unfold, all that is left is the reverberating echo of His Words, “Do you love Me? . . . Follow Me.”
That becomes the sole Foundation of His Call. The sole reason for each step on that Path. And, often, the sole reward for all it has cost you.