Responding to Amazing Love Part 2 – Loving Others - John 21:15-17

We look up to the disciples, and with good reason. Yet, they were just like us – full of doubts and sin. Even Peter, the great Peter, who swore he would never deny Jesus, denied him three times (John 13:38; 1:15-27). When the rooster crowed and the realization of what he had done out of self-preservation instead of obedience and love; he was devastated. I can’t imagine how horrible Peter must have felt at that moment.

Then Jesus died, and was buried. And for three days (three days in which Peter surely felt quite miserable) Jesus stayed in the tomb. But then on the morning of the third day Jesus was resurrected, just as he foretold! Oh glorious day!

Imagine Peter, walking and talking with his risen Messiah, yet still carrying guilt for denying Jesus only three days prior. Then Jesus turns to Peter and asks him three questions, “Do you love me?” Three times. Three times Peter had denied Jesus, yet later Jesus gave him another three chances. This time Peter got it right.

You may have heard some say that Peter uses different Greek words for “love” which basically means that Peter had not learned his lesson. They argue Peter loved Jesus to a lesser degree (brotherly love) than Jesus desired from him (an all encompassing love). This is not what is happening here. (That view is based on a misunderstanding of the Greek.) In reality, Peter gets it right!! Three times Peter affirms that he loves Jesus. Imagine Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ three questions. In a sense, he was able to have a second chance.

In response to each of Peter’s affirmations, he is issued a command. Jesus tells him that his love for Jesus should result in tending and shepherding Jesus’ disciples. In the same way our love for God should prompt our actions. If we love God, we should love others. For Peter, this meant becoming a leader in the Church that was being created. While most of us are not called to be a spiritual leader over a community – we are still called to act in love towards the community. Our love for God is reflected in how we love others.

Thoughts to Ponder
Just as Jesus gave Peter a chance to right a wrong, a second chance; He does the same for us. When we fail, God is still full of amazing love and He wants to provide us restoration and a second chance.

Loving God does not stop at the throne of God. Loving God with every bit of our being cannot stop there. Loving God compels us to love others. As you interact with people that you are inclined to not love, stop and remember that our love for God should be visible in those very interactions.