Scripture: John 21:15-17
I. You know you love Jesus if you repent after you sin.
- This conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21 takes place after Jesus has been raised from the dead. On the night before Jesus died, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus. How painful this must have been for Peter. What must have been especially painful for Peter was what he said to Jesus when Jesus had previously told the disciples that all of them would fall away after Jesus was arrested. Peter’s response to Jesus is found in Matthew 26:33: Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” After Peter failed Jesus, the first question Jesus asks in John 21:15 is this, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
- And when Jesus asked Peter the same question for the third time, John writes clearly about how Peter felt in vs. 17. We read there, “Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” Why did Jesus put him in so much pain? Because Jesus wanted to bring Peter to repentance for his sin of denying Jesus. Three times, in a public place, Peter had denied having anything to do with Jesus. And, so three times, in a public place in front of the other disciples, Peter said in front of everybody that he loved Jesus. Peter then repented.
II. You know you love Jesus if you love the sheep Jesus loves.
- Jesus asked Peter the same question three times: do you love me? And every time Peter answered yes, Jesus gave to Peter a mission to perform on Christ’s behalf. In vs. 15 Jesus says, “Feed my lambs.” In vs. 16 Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” And in vs. 17, Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” By giving Peter the chance to say to Jesus three times, “I love you,” Jesus was saying to Peter, “I forgive you for the three times that you denied me.” But Jesus not only forgave Peter. He also restored Peter to his place of ministry as an apostle in which He would take care of Christ’s sheep.
- In this conversation with Peter Jesus makes it clear how important love is. A leader in Christ’s church must love Jesus. And a leader in Christ’s church must love the other people in the church. This is true not just for leaders in the church. This is true for everybody in the church. But how can you love people in the church who hurt you? You can love your brothers and sisters in three ways: 1) Speak humbly. Speak, recognizing that you don’t know everything. And speak, recognizing that you might even change your mind on this particular issue. 1 Peter 5:5: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” 2) Listen. James writes in James 1:19: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Listening equals love. 3) Respect other people as your brothers and sisters in Christ. When Peter wrote about evangelism, he said these words in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Be respectful to non-Christians when you speak to them about Jesus, Peter says. Do you think we should be any less respectful in speaking to Christians about different issues?
There is nothing more important than loving Jesus. Do you love Him?
The Gospel according to John
Commentaries on John by D.A. Carson and Richard Phillips
SERMON DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Why did Jesus ask Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?” What did Peter need to repent of in his relationship with Jesus? Why does repentance show that we love Jesus?
- What mission does Jesus give to Peter in restoring him as an apostle? What is the connection between loving Jesus and loving the people of the church?
- Of the three ways that we talked about loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (humility, listening, and showing respect), which do you need to work on the most? Have you seen positive examples of these three virtues in the church?