Do You Love Jesus?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Feb. 10, 2008
*Do you love me? I suppose everybody has asked -- or at least thought about that question sometime in their life. Jesus asked Peter and He is asking us today, “Do you love me?”
*Of course we have every reason to love Jesus. He has blessed us beyond measure! And 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him” (or at least we should) “because He first loved us.” We see Christ’s love for us all over the New Testament. As Curtis Schofield once said:
-I see Jesus take up little children in his arms and bless them.
-I see Jesus stopping a parade to respond to the cries of a blind street beggar.
-I see Jesus going home with Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector, to demonstrate to him that God still loved him.
-I see Jesus responding to the hunger needs of 5,000 people by directing his disciples to feed them.
-I see Jesus talking to a woman with a bad reputation at the well. Through faith in God, Jesus helps the woman to find a new life.
-I see Jesus coming to the rescue of a woman who was about to be stoned. Jesus instructed the crowd, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
-I see Jesus breaking a loaf of bread, just before he goes to the Cross, saying, "This is my body which is broken for you." -Later the disciples realize that Jesus was telling them that He was God's sacrifice of love for their sins.
-When I think of the Cross I remember the words of Paul, "God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God's goodness into us." (2 Cor 5:21)
-To the Christians at Rome, Paul wrote, "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8) (1)
1. We should love Jesus, because He first loved us, but how can we show it? First, take a close walk with the Lord.
*He’s not far away, you know. By His Holy Spirit, Jesus is here with us right now. In Matt 18:20 Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus Christ is right here today. -- But in our hearts, we have to draw close to Him. That’s why James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. . .” Will you do it? Take a close walk with the Lord.
*Get close enough to receive the success God wants to give you. In vs. 3 these seven disciples went fishing, but they caught nothing. Most of them were professional fishermen, but they caught nothing. The good news in vs. 4-6 is that Jesus was close by:
4. When the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5. Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?'' They answered Him, "No.''
6. And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.'' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
*Darren Rogers says, “The Lord knew where the fish were. They had confessed their failure and it was time for Jesus to take over the situation. He told them where to cast the net; they obeyed, and they caught a multitude of fish. The difference between success and failure was the width of a ship! We are never far from success when we let Jesus give the orders. We are usually closer to success than we think.” Jesus knows where the blessings are for your life. -- But are you close enough to listen? (2)
*Get close enough to receive the success God wants to give you, and close enough to know that He is the Risen Savior. Through that miraculous catch, John realized that the man on the shore was Jesus, so in vs. 7 John told Peter, “‘It is the Lord!’ Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.”
*Peter was eager to get to Jesus! Don’t you like that. Vs. 8 tells us that he swam 200 cubits. -- that’s 300 feet! -- the length of a football field. Peter was eager to get to Risen Savior. And the more we realize who Jesus is, the closer we will want to be. Be eager!
*Get close enough to know that He is the Risen Savior. And close enough to know that He can provide everything you will ever need. In vs. 9, “As soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.” The Lord of all the universe was cooking breakfast for His friends. Amazing! Jesus already had everything they needed when they got to shore: the bread, the fire, the fish. Then in vs. 10, “Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.’” But of course the only reason they had anything to give was because the Lord had filled their net. Jesus met all their needs and He will meet yours too!
*Get close enough to know that He can provide everything you will ever need, close enough to fellowship with Him as your best friend, close enough to know that He loves you so much He died on the cross for your sins, and close enough to hear Jesus ask the hard questions. The Lord asked Peter those hard questions in vs. 15-17. Breakfast was over. And based on Peter’s look back in vs. 20, we can gather that Peter and Jesus were now walking together along the shore of the lake. Jesus didn’t publicly humiliate Peter. But Peter had denied the Lord three times on the night before the cross, and the Lord wanted to deal with that.
*Peter must have already been feeling guilty. The fire of coals there on the beach would certainly remind Peter of the fire where he warmed his hands on the night he denied the Lord. The word used is for fire here is used only one other time in the New Testament: It was the fire in John 18:18, when Peter was denying the Lord. (2)
*Peter felt guilty, because he was guilty. He had denied the Lord three times, and there was no getting around it. But we’d like to get around it. It can feel good to blame someone else for our shortcomings. Student Minister Doug Fields tells about how much he loved maraschino cherries when he was a kid. He was crazy those cherries! And Doug’s mom kept a jar of them in the refrigerator as a reward for the kids.
*Well, one day when his mom was out of the house, Doug couldn’t take the temptation of those cherries. He got the jar out and started eating. Before he knew it, the jar was gone, so, in desperation, he came up with a plan. Doug poured some of the cherry juice on the floor around the refrigerator. Then he took the jar and poured juice on the hands and clothes of his little toddler sister -- who couldn’t talk yet! Doug pinned the crime on her, and he got away with it! He didn’t tell his mom and sister about his little scam until he was an adult! (3)
*That was almost good enough for “Forensic Files.” We like to blame other people for our failure and sin. Glen Miller saw this in his granddaughter, Kayla. One time Kayla was upset after being disciplined, and she told Mom, “The bad thing about being the only child is you get blamed for everything you do.” (4)
*It might feel nice to blame someone else, but you can forget about that when it’s just you and Jesus. Notice how the Lord dealt with Peter’s guilt. He didn’t rail at Peter, or rub it in. He didn’t embarrass Peter or put him to shame. Instead, Jesus asked Peter three very simple questions -- simple questions, but most profound, and hard to answer when we have let the Lord down: “Do you love me?”
*Many of you know that the original Greek had more than one word for love. And when Jesus first asked the question to Peter, He was asking Peter if he loved the Lord with agape love -- the highest love -- God’s kind of unconditional love. Peter didn’t feel comfortable going that far, but he did affirm that he had phileo love for the Lord -- friendly love, brotherly love. Phileo love: That’s where the city of Philadelphia got its name, and why it’s called “The city of “brotherly love.”
*So here’s a good paraphrase of the Lord’s questions in vs. 15-17:
15. “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me unconditionally more than you love these men?” -- “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You like a friend and brother.”
16. Jesus asked him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me with my kind of unconditional love? -- “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You like a friend and brother.”
17. Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me like a friend and brother?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?'' And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You like a friend and brother.”
*Those were hard questions for Peter to answer. And sometimes the Lord will have hard questions for you. Get close enough to hear Jesus ask the hard questions, and close enough to tell Him that you love Him.
*Paul Powell asks, since Jesus really does know all things, then why did He keep asking Peter the question? The reason why is because Jesus wanted to hear it. And Peter needed to say it. Powell compared it to the love between a man and his wife, and said:
-No matter how many times in the past a man may have told his wife he loves her, it does not suffice for today. She wants to hear it again and again. And he needs to say it. My wife and I have been married 40 years. Let’s suppose that I have told her twice a week since we married that I love her. (I assure you I have done it many more times than that.) That would be more than 100 times a year for 40 years, or more than 4,000 times. Surely that should be enough for anyone. But I can assure you it isn’t. She will want to hear it again and again. We never get tired of hearing people sincerely say, “I love you.” And saying it yesterday is not sufficient for today.
*Arthur Ford was the oldest active member of my former church when I resigned. He was 95-years-old and he was still singing in the choir. He and his wife, Gertrude, had been married for 70 years when she died. I have never known a couple more devoted to one another than they. On her dying bed, Gertrude said to Arthur, “Arthur, tell me one more time you love me.” -- That’s the way love is. It craves and it thrives on expression. (5)
*Peter told the Lord that he loved Him. -- And so should we. But you have to get close enough to Jesus to do it. Are you close enough?
2. If you love Jesus, take a close walk with the Lord, and find the right work for the Lord.
*The Lord certainly wants you to tell Him that you love Him. But that’s not enough. God has a job for you. This is what the Lord told Peter three times in vs. 15-17. “Simon, son of John, do you love me? Then feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my little sheep.”
*Love is not just something to say -- it’s something to do. Paul Powell says:
-“Talk is cheap. And the cheapest of all talk is religious talk. Nelda David, a friend of mine, was returning from Tyler to Dallas late one night, when she began to have car trouble. She was in what she thought was an unsafe part of the city. So she began looking for a good place to pull off the street.
-She spotted a post office with a well-lit parking lot so she turned into it. Just as she stopped her car, a middle-aged man came out of the door of the post office. She told him her problem and asked for his help. He told her he was sorry, but he was in a hurry and got in his car and drove off. As he pulled away she noticed the bumper sticker on his car. It read, ‘Jesus loves you and so do I.’”
-Paul added, “That’s the extent of some people’s love. It never gets beyond words. They have a bumper sticker religion. It may be that the greatest curse of the modern church is that when all has been said and done, a whole lot more has been said than has been done. (6)
*We talk a better game than we play. The Lord isn’t interested in mere words. He wants love demonstrated. He wants love in action. John expressed the kind of love Christ wants when he wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
*Love is not just something you say. -- It’s something you do. Jesus had a job for Peter. That’s one of the main reasons why He asked those three questions. “Peter, do you love me? -- Then feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my little sheep.” Jesus had a job for Peter. And Jesus has a job for you.
3. If you love Jesus, find the right work for the Lord. -- And surrender your wants to the Lord.
*Things took an unexpected turn as Jesus talked to Peter in vs. 18-19. The NIV shows Jesus saying:
18. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself (or tied on your belt) and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you (or tie you up) and lead you where you do not want to go."
19. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
*Notice that Jesus did not say, “Peter, I know you love me. And you are going to do some great things for me. When all of that is over, you are going to get a sweet book deal -- And that vacation home you always wanted in Hot Springs.”
*And Jesus did not say, “Peter you are going to glorify God by preaching on the Day of Pentecost. 3,000 people will get saved! Peter you are going to glorify God by working miracles in my name, and by leading the first Gentiles to faith in Me, and by leading the church and writing Scripture.”
*Jesus knew that all of these great things would happen. And surely they did bring glory to God. -- But Jesus stressed Peter’s suffering. Jesus said, “Peter, you are going to glorify God by doing something you don’t want to do: Suffer on a cross for Me.”
*Living here in the USA in 2008, we are used to getting what we want. But God is not always going to give you what you want, and there are some great reasons for this. One reason why is because we don’t always want the right thing. On top of that, we are not the center of the universe. Bigger things are going on than what we want. Plus, as Paul Powell said, “God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually.” (7)
*The best we can do is hear Jesus say, “Follow Me.” And then surrender our wants to God. Peter surrendered. In 2 Peter 1:14 he urged believers to grow in godliness and love, knowing, he said, “That shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” In 1 Peter 2:21-24, he challenged Christians to suffer wrong treatment patiently, saying:
21. To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22. Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth;
23. Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten. -- But committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
24. Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed.
*Surrender your wants to God. Surrender most of all because God wants to demonstrate the life of Christ in you.
*Years ago Rev. Jim Robinson founded a voluntary summer work program called “Operation Crossroads.” Through this program, college students would give up their summer vacations, pay part of their own way to some 30 African nations, and work together with locals to build new schools, clinics, libraries, community centers, roads, and water systems. They met many obstacles. Topping the list was that every team had to overcome the local people’s suspicion of American motives.
*A typical village chief had first refused to let his people cooperate in building a badly needed schoolhouse. While American college kids were putting in 14-hour days at the school site, they were constantly harassed by the chief and his elders. Then one day the chief asked, “How do we know you are our friends?”
*The Crossroads leader put down his shovel, held out his hands and asked, “Aren’t these calluses proof enough?” They were proof enough. They were proof of his love for the people and proof of his love for Christ. (8)
*Those hands remind me of another pair of hands. As Peter walked along the shore that day with Jesus, he must have looked down at the Lord’s Hands. Wouldn’t you? Peter must have seen the scars of the cross. And seeing those scars he must have thought, “Nothing I could ever do could repay all He has done for me. I ought to love Him. I will love Him. I do love Him.”
*Jesus asked Peter and He is asking us today, “Do you love me?” If you do, take a close walk with the Lord. Find the right work for the Lord. And surrender your wants to the Lord.
1. Adapted from sermon by Dr. Curtis Schofield (found in christianglobe.com sermon “I Love You, Man!” by King Duncan - John 21:1-14)
2. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Breakfast on the Beach” by Darren Rogers - John 21:1-14
3. SermonCentral sermon “SURVIVOR 3: How to Survive the Failure of Sin” by Geoff Baggett - John 21:1-17
4. “Mature Living,” August 2005, p.8 - (Source: IN OTHER WORDS - February 2008 #1 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net)
5. JUMP STARTING DEAD CHURCHES by Paul W. Powell - 1995 p. 19-21
6. JUMP STARTING DEAD CHURCHES by Paul W. Powell - 1995 p. 16-17
7. SermonCentral illustration search
8. JUMP STARTING DEAD CHURCHES by Paul W. Powell - 1995 p. 18-19