Thursday, September 6, 2012

How much do you love me?

Read: John 21:1-19

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?"
- John 21:25, NASB
 The scene is a beach on the sea of Tiberias, a crystal clear body of water 12 miles wide by 7 miles long. The risen Jesus, master of heaven and earth, conqueror of death and the grave, has just sat down in the dirt and cooked his disciples some fish to share for breakfast. After they had eaten, Jesus looks at Peter - the one who had denied his Lord three times, and asks a painful question: Do you love me more than these?

Remember, Peter had said that he loved Jesus most of all and would stay by Jesus even if everyone else abandoned Him. Peter, however, instead denied Jesus even while Jesus was led to the cross to die for Peter's sins.So Jesus asks: Do you love me more than these? Do you really love me as much as you claim?

The kind of love that he had claimed (a sold-out, Jesus-or-nothing devotion) was the morally right thing.  Peter had been told before that he must love Jesus most of all, by Jesus Himself:
"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. "
Matthew 10:32-38,  NASB
The dilemma was not whether Peter should live up to his claims, but whether he did. He had compared himself to the love of the other disciples before, but now he knows better. It is not about how much anyone else loves God, but how much you do. 

Jesus poses the same question to us today. Do you love me more than your breakfast, your brethren, your mother, your father, your spouse, your children and all the rest? Would you give up everyone you care about if God asked you to? Often times we do not and we cringe at the thought: A parent who loves God more than their child? A husband who loves God more than his wife? A child who loves God more than his family?

That is the kind of adoration God demands. He says "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me," and he means it.

Is it hard? Yes. It is easier to love the ones we can see and touch than it is to love the God we cannot. But we must love Him for who He is - completely. This is an area where we can all do better, myself especially. It is easy enough to pay lip service to "God first." It is much harder to actually have that heart.

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