So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” — John 21: 15
Let us examine ourselves to see whether we truly love the Lord!
During the Advent season we also wait for our King Jesus Christ to return. However, for us the important thing is not when the Lord comes, but rather why He is coming: Jesus is returning in order to take unto Himself those who belong to the bridal congregation and who will later comprise the royal priesthood in the kingdom of peace.
For this reason it is important that our love for the Lord and our neighbour grows already today so that we can be credible witnesses of Christ. That is the objective of our spiritual preparation in the Advent season!
Love that is not based on calculation
Our Bible text refers first and foremost to the special commission that Peter received from Jesus. However, as concerns our love for Jesus, these words are also directed to all of us.
- At first, Peter was convinced that He loved Jesus more than all the others (Matthew 26: 33), however, his denial of the Lord made him humble: he did not dare to reply to Jesus’ question by saying that he loved Him more than the others did. In order to assess our love for Jesus, we must measure it with the standard given by Jesus—and not try to compare ourselves to others!
- Peter had left everything for the Lord, but also expected something in return from Him (Matthew 19: 27). After Peter had denied the Lord, he experienced the pain of being separated from Jesus. This experience changed him. From then on he followed the Lord because he no longer wanted to be separated from Him. How is it with us?
- Peter loved the Lord and did not hesitate to draw his sword and attack the soldier. Later he understood that the Lord expected him to help other people to attain salvation. Our love for the Lord is measured by our love for our neighbour.
- During the trial and sentencing of Jesus, Peter’s fear of having to suffer was greater than his love for the Lord. But the experience of the grace and love of the Risen One allowed him to grow in love. Far from withdrawing in fear from trials, he glorified the Lord from then on even in suffering.
Love God and your neighbour!
Those who love the Lord will also love their neighbour! Our love for God and for the Lord Jesus cannot be greater than the love for our neighbour! Let us examine ourselves to see how great our love is. Out of love for Jesus Christ, let us also remain faithful even in trials, and thereby testify of Him until He returns.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 20 December 2015 at Midrand Congregation.