When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
John 21: 15-17
We find Jesus and some of the disciples sitting around the campfire enjoying some freshly caught fish. Just moments before Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Like many times before they were not having much luck until Jesus instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. At that point, the nets became filled and the men were once again amazed by Jesus' provision for them. Not only had Jesus directed them to where the fish were He also once they made it back to the shore Jesus had breakfast waiting for them. The men sat and enjoyed their food and fellowship with the Savior. After eating Jesus said to Peter the same man that had denied Him during the darkest day, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Without thinking twice Peter responded with a resounding yes, of course, but the questioning did not stop there. Once again Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” And Peter for the second time says “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And then for a third time, Jesus asked the same question, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” After all three questions, Peter responded with yes but Jesus kept asking. By the third time, Peter was distressed that Jesus was still asking the same question, but three was the same amount of times that he had denied Christ, and three was the number of times in which he needed to be asked in order to be redeemed.
I find this story so important because it gives us a guide on how we should be loving God. Jesus gives Peter instructions after every question. First, He says feed my lambs, then tend my sheep and finally feed my sheep. Jesus isn’t speaking of real lambs or sheep that He owned but to the flock of followers, the church that was being formed based on the life and resurrection of Jesus. His instructions on how to love Him were not to follow every law that was written in the Old Testament but to simply love and care for the flock. To care for all persons in this world regardless of age, race, gender, political affiliation, sports team alliance, etc. It is not our place to judge or condemn but only to love and support.
I find it interesting that the key to loving God is to love and take care of others. When we truly love God and want to honor Him we will see others as they truly are, children of God. When we see others like that we will want to love and care for them not just with our words but also with our actions. Although this sounds easy it is very far from that. Just because we are showing kindness to others does not mean they will be showing kindness to us. This world has done a great job of making it all about what the individual person wants and feels and much less about what is truly right in the eyes of the Lord. So when we are going against the grain of what the world is doing it seems alien or of a different world because well it is of a different world and of the kingdom of the Lord. You would think with so much in this world gone bad it would be our job as Christians to be making it right, but that is not the case. We are not supposed to be in this world to judge and condemn but to love and care for the lost. We see in the passage in John and in 1 Corinthians 16:14 that says, “Do everything in love.” We should be using love and kindness to guide the world instead of war, anger, and judgment. It is not our place to condemn others for their action, our job is to care for and support others despite choices especially when they differ from our own.
So my challenge this week is quite difficult… Let’s take the time to tear down our wall of judgment and consider love and support instead. Leave it up to God to judge and condemn.