Without a doubt, God has shown His love to us repeatedly! We can never wear out the Scripture in John 3:16; “For God so Loved. . .”
And what about these. . .
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you. . .”
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Through these Scriptures, and hundreds more like them, it becomes obvious; God loves us! Indeed, the whole of the Bible is a Book of love, an expression of God’s love towards us!
The question is not; “Does God love us,” but rather; “Do we love Him?”
I want to take you on a journey with a man called Peter, along with a couple of other men, James and John, commonly referred to as disciples, or the “inner three.”
These men walked with Jesus; actually walked with Him in the flesh, they shared meals together, and spent dozens of nights around the campfire talking with Jesus. If anyone knew the heart of Jesus, these men did, if anyone could love and obey His teaching, these men would.
The Disciples were very much like us. By that I mean, they were not stunning models of obedience and passion, but were quite human, and showed signs of their ‘humanness” all along the journey.
They were fishermen, physically strong, hard working, simple, yet very determined men. These men responded to the invitation from Jesus; “Follow Me.” It was at that point, that these men had an encounter with Jesus, and made a decision to follow Him; just like you did.
These men had many of the same struggles that you have.
Peter, James and John, were closest to Jesus, these men saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they were there when Jesus raised dead girl, and they were there when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
If anyone could get their walk right with Jesus, it would be these guys. Yet these men struggled understanding God’s will, and had trouble obeying Jesus, here are a few examples;
James and John wanted to call down lightening to destroy some people who did not welcome Jesus. Luke 9:53-55
“. . . but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
James and John apparently got their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit at either side of Him in heaven . . . rather arrogant don’t you think? Matthew 20:20-22
“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.”
While standing on the mount of transfiguration, at one of the holiest, and most reverent times in the Bible, as Jesus stands there with Elijah and Moses, Peter blurts out; “It is good that we are here, I will build a shelter for each of you.” What was he thinking! Matthew 17:1-4
“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
At one of the most critical times in Jesus’ life, while He is about to be arrested, Peter pulls out a knife, and slices a man’s ear off! John 18:10
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
In the Garden of Gethsemane James, John, and Peter fell asleep! Matthew 26:40-42
“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
Peter swore that he would die with Christ if need be, but in the end denied knowing Jesus three times! Matthew 26:69-75
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
As we can see by these examples, the disciples were anything, but stellar, and most of us are not either.
An interesting meeting took place after the resurrection of Jesus; found in John 21:1-19
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
In this remarkable story, Jesus reaffirmed His love for Peter by His actions. He could have criticized Peter, ridiculed him, and said; “I told you so!”
Sitting by that fire, Peter experienced what I call blazing, majestic, overwhelming, relentless love, coming from the risen Christ!
The issue that Jesus was trying to bring to Peter’s attention was not that He (Jesus) loved Peter; that was now very evident. The question was; Peter, do you love Me?
Today, Jesus gently lifts your gaze, to meet Him, and asks you; “Do you love Me, more than these.”
What is your response?