“…Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? …” (John 21:16)
This question that our Lord asked Peter was probably the most important question Peter had ever been asked. Likewise, it is probably the most important question you will ever be asked.
Here, Jesus gently reminds His erring disciple of his three denials. He desired to call forth from him a new confession of faith before restoring him to feed the Church.
And what was the question He asked him? He might have said: “Do you believe Me?” or “Are you converted?” or “Are you ready to confess Me?” or “Will you obey Me?” He uses none of these expressions. He says simply, “Do you love Me?” Here, Jesus would have us know that our Christianity hinges on these words. If a man truly loves Christ, all is alright; if not, all is wrong.
This begs another question however, and that is, “How does a man know he loves Christ?” One way to measure this question is to ask, “How do we show affection among ourselves?”
First, if we love a person, we like to think about him. We do not need to be reminded of him. He comes to our mind’s eye many times a day. He is ever-present in our thoughts. And this is the case between a true Christian and Christ. Christ “dwells in his heart.” The true Christian has thoughts about Christ every day that he lives, because he loves Him.
Second, if we love a person, we like to hear about him. Some may hear him mentioned with utter indifference, but our own hearts abound within us at the very mention of his name. The true Christian delights to hear something about his Master. He likes sermons that are full of Christ. Why? Because he loves Him.
Third, if we love a person, we like to read about him. A love letter from a wife is cherished, and a man will read it over and over again. Likewise, a true Christian delights to read the Scriptures, because they tell him all about his Savior; because he loves Him.
Fourth, if we love a person, we like to please him. We consult his tastes and opinions; we act upon his advice; and we do things he approves of. Likewise, a true Christian studies to please Him by being holy in body and spirit. To him, Christ’s commandments are not grievous, and Christ’s burdens are light. And why is this? Because he loves Him.
Fifth, if we love a person, we like his friends. We are inclined to like them even before we know them. We are bound by a common love to one-in-the-same person. And it is so with the true Christian and Christ. All Christ’s friends are his friends, members of the same body, soldiers in the same army, travelers to the same home. Why? Because he loves Him.
Sixth, if we love someone, we are jealous about his name and honor. We defend him when other speak ill of him; and we maintain and build up his reputation. Likewise, the true Christian has a Godly jealousy if anyone disparages His Name, Word, or Church. Why? Because he loves Him.
Seventh, if we love a person, we like to talk to him and to pour out our heart to him. A true Christian speaks to his Savior every day, and is not content until he expresses his heart and his thoughts to Him. He tells Him his wants, his fears, his desires, and his feelings. Why? Because he loves Him
Last, if we love a person, we want always to be with him. We long to be in his company; and to part brings sadness. The true Christian longs for that day when he will see his Savior face-to-face; to be done with sinning, repenting, believing. It is sweet to live by faith, but much more by sight. We will spend an eternity loving Him.
In closing, does this describe your relationship with Christ? If so, be assured brother, that He who loves you will carry you into His arms. If not, pray that you would begin to see your need of Him, and run to the Cross.