Why Did the Lord Jesus Ask Peter, “Do You Love Me”? What Is God’s Expectation?
The New Testament records, “Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep” (John 21: 15–17).
Every time when I read these verses, I would mull: Why did the Lord Jesus ask Peter three times in a row, “Love you me?” What did He want to tell us through these three questions? What message did the Lord want to communicate to us? Carrying my puzzlement and confusion, I searched for answers in some spiritual books.
At last, I found some relevant contents about these questions. After reading them, I became somewhat clear about God’s will from the words that the Lord Jesus asked Peter three times, “Love you me?” As it says in the book, “In this conversation, the Lord Jesus repeatedly asked Peter one thing: ‘Peter, love you me?’ This is a higher standard the Lord Jesus required from people like Peter after His resurrection, who truly believe in Christ and strive to love the Lord. This question was a sort of investigation, and a sort of interrogation, but even more, it was a requirement and an expectation of people like Peter. He used this method of questioning so that people would reflect on themselves and look into themselves: What are the Lord Jesus’ requirements for people? Do I love the Lord? Am I a person who loves God? How should I love God? Even though the Lord Jesus only asked this question of Peter, the truth is that in His heart, He wanted to use this opportunity of asking Peter to ask this type of question of more people who seek to love God. It is only that Peter was blessed to act as the representative of this type of person, to receive questioning from the Lord Jesus’ own mouth. … This was a thought-provoking, meaningful question that can’t help but make every follower of Christ feel remorse, and fear, but also feel the Lord Jesus’ anxious, sorrowful mood. And when they are in great pain and suffering, they are more able to understand the Lord Jesus Christ’s concern and His care; they realize His earnest teaching and strict requirements of pure, honest people. The Lord Jesus’ question allows people to feel that the Lord’s expectations of people revealed in these simple words are not merely to believe in and follow Him, but to achieve having love, loving your Lord, loving your God. This kind of love is caring and obeying. It is humans living for God, dying for God, dedicating everything to God, and expending and giving everything for God. This kind of love is also giving God comfort, allowing Him to enjoy witness, and allowing Him to be at rest. It is mankind’s repayment to God, their responsibility, obligation and duty, and it is a way that mankind must follow for their entire lives. These three questions were a requirement and an exhortation the Lord Jesus made of Peter and all people who would be made perfect. It was these three questions that led and motivated Peter to complete his path in life, and it was the questions at the Lord Jesus’ parting that led Peter to start on his path of being made perfect, that led him, because of his love for the Lord, to care for the Lord’s heart, to obey the Lord, to offer comfort to the Lord, and to offer up his whole life and his whole being because of this love.”
After reading these words, I knew the word “Love you me?” that the Lord Jesus asked Peter three times is too meaningful. Especially for us the Lord’s followers, it has a far deeper meaning. From these questions, we can see God’s expectations of man: In God’s heart, He doesn’t only want to gain people who believe in and follow God but expects to get man’s love of Him and man’s heart that truly loves Him. In God’s eyes, it is the most precious that man has a God-loving heart. Because in God’s several thousand years of work, there have been many people believing in God and following God, but those who have loved God are few and far between. So, from God’s three times of asking Peter, “Love you me?” we can see God’s will that He hopes all those who truly follow God can pursue to be a person like Peter and can achieve to love God. That’s what God expects. At this moment, I couldn’t help considering: Do I have love for God? Many times I said I would seek to love God, but in reality my actions were not out of love for God. Because if a person truly loves God, he will be attentive to God and obey God, and can fulfill his responsibilities and duty as a created being to repay God’s love. But these were not possessed by me. In real life, I usually conducted a transaction with God for the sake of my own fleshly interests — I wished for blessings when I devoted a little, and I demanded God’s blessings for my small sacrifices. And I also saw that many co-workers who “loved the Lord”, for the sake of the gospel work, gave up all the fleshly enjoyment, devoted their youth, and even were arrested and put in jail, but none of these were for loving God. Because there were too many impurities and transactions within these so-called loves. For example, some spent for the Lord because they enjoyed so much of His grace, some were to avoid disaster; some were to obtain blessings and enter into heaven; some were to covet the blessing of status. In a word, our belief in God was with these impurities and intentions, so it was not true love for God from our heart. God is worried and anxious about our viewpoints and intentions of belief in God. Because God eagerly expects that our lives can mature as soon as possible and we can free ourselves from the belief of asking for bread to be filled, so that we can stand as a created being to worship God, pursue to be a person who has conscience and reason, and who love, obey and fear God. Only this kind of person is after God’s heart, and is the one God wants.
At this moment, I read the words again that the Lord Jesus asked Peter three times, “Love you me?” I felt they are very significant. Because they contain God’s will and expectation for Peter and those who are like Peter. God wants to get more persons who believe in God and pursue to love God like Peter. Because only these who truly love God can care for God’s heart and submit to God in all things; only such people are those who God expects to obtain at the end of His work and who can be perfected by God. According to God’s requirements, we have a long way to go. But as long as we rely on God and look up to Him, I believe God will lead us. May the Holy Spirit move us more so that we can always come before God to pray, read more of the Lord’s words, seeking the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit and understanding the requirements and will of the Lord in His words, so that we could do our utmost to pursue to love God sincerely like Peter, and thereby satisfy God and comfort His heart.
Source: Grow in Christ — The Second Coming of Christ
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