Do You Love Me?

John 21:18

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time. “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord You know everything! You know that I love You.”

Have you ever failed so miserably you thought God could never use you again? I seem to find myself there repeatedly, and if anything good comes from my ministry, it has to be God doing a work I can’t even see. Peter thought the same thing after denying Christ three times when He was arrested. After the resurrection, Peter went back to his old way of life – fishing – because he thought he was finished in ministry. The problem was, he had no success in going back. Unless God blessed his efforts, he could not do the very thing he’d done all his life. Now that he had experienced Jesus, his former life no longer worked for him. Peter could do nothing but realize his own sin and accept the new life God was revealing to him by grace.

When Peter went fishing after the resurrection, he found himself unable to catch fish until Jesus yelled out from the shore to give him directions on where to cast the net. In an act of obedience, Peter brought in a very large haul of fish. Instead of relishing in his success, he immediately jumped in the water and swam to shore because he realized Who had given him the direction, and he was anxious to get to Jesus. Peter needed something from Jesus at that moment more than he needed the fish. He needed to know he was forgiven and restored back into ministry.

In restoring Peter, Jesus repeatedly asked one question – “Do you love me?” He followed with one directive – “Feed my lambs (sheep).” The question cut through Peter like a knife, and he was grieved when Jesus asked him a third time. He knew he had failed to express his love for Christ just before the crucifixion and had even denied Him. His lack of love was obvious. “Grieved” here means “in distress or to be sad.” The term gives an indication of heaviness. Without doubt, Peter felt remorse as Jesus asked the question repeatedly.

One might wonder why on earth Jesus would choose to trust Peter again. Had he not already done enough damage to the gospel by denying Jesus publicly? Who would listen to him now? Yet, Jesus instructed Peter to feed His sheep. If Peter truly loved Jesus, He would care about the things Jesus cared about – His sheep. Jesus turned Peter’s focus from his own worthiness or merit and redirected him to the real need – caring for sheep (followers).

If we are ever going to become effective in ministry, we must learn to care about the things Jesus cares about – His sheep (followers). Until we do, we will find ourselves denying Jesus and causing more damage than good. Jesus had invested three years of His life into Peter, and He knew from the beginning what Peter would do. Yet, He chose to use Peter to begin His church. With his first sermon, 3,000 people came to know Christ! God does amazing wonders through us when we take our eyes off ourselves – our successes and failures – and begin to care for His sheep because we love them and want them to know Jesus, too. If God chose to use only perfect people, He would be at a total loss to create a church on earth to worship Him. Instead, He uses flawed, self-centered, incapable people like you and me and empowers us through grace to be an extension of grace to this world.

Do you love Jesus? Feed His sheep. You can’t go back to an old way of living with any amount of effectiveness. God knows your shortcomings, your weaknesses, and your acts of outright rebellion. He has chosen to use you anyway, and His grace will lead you into an effectiveness like you’ve never known if you will surrender to His plan and stop trying to get Him to bless yours.

Have a blessed day!

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