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Cole Bodkin ~ How the Questions of Jesus Can Shape Your Year: What You Love

What sort of questions does the Resurrected Jesus ask?

We’ve already seen that before the crucifixion, Jesus liked asking a question multiple times in different scenarios. In many cases we see his dialogues often contain a rapid succession of questions. In the final chapter of John we see the resurrected Jesus posing the same question multiple times to an old friend.

 “Do you love me more than these?”

What a painful question to receive, but what an important one, too. Whenever a person is asked this, there is usually some heartbreak involved, or some sense in which trust is in question or betrayal has occurred. Peter responds matter-of-factly, or possibly nonchalantly, “Yes Lord; You know that I love you.”

Jesus replies, “Tend my lambs.”

But maybe it isn’t sinking in yet, so Jesus asks again.

Do you love me?

At this point perhaps Peter is a little confused (Did you not hear me the first time?), frustrated (Jesus, did I stutter?) or even getting a little nervous (What’s going on?). Again Peter responds, “Yes Lord; You know that I love you.”

He hears a similar response from Jesus: “Shepherd my sheep.”

Maybe the disciples sit for a little bit and take a few nibbles of fish, in silence, warming up by the fire. The smoke makes its way up Peter’s nostrils and suddenly jogs his memory of being questioned about his relationship to Jesus by the fire in the courtyard (“No way! I don’t know that guy!”).

Then the dagger comes that brings the big man to grief.

Do you love me?

Three times Peter denied Jesus in front of others. Now, three times Jesus asks if Peter actually loves him. The pain of failure returns as Peter is faced with a question of allegiance. Sheepishly, Peter mutters in despair and despondence: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

One last time, Jesus charges Peter, “Tend my sheep.”

Do you love me?

Do you love me?

Do you love me?

Peter has been around long enough to know what it means to love Jesus. It involves abiding in, remaining in his love.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (14:15).

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (14:21)

“Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (14:23-24)

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (15:9-11).

It’s interesting that Peter doesn’t reciprocate the love language that Jesus uses. Jesus employs the rugged, covenantal commitment kind of love (agape), whereas Peter seems to only bring himself to use the brotherly kind of love (phileo). Yet, Jesus with this test meets Peter in his current state, and—despite it all—accepts, restores, and continues to implore him to, “feed my sheep.” In some ways, it resembles the end of Matthew’s Gospel. The resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples on the mountaintop and some still doubted. Nevertheless, Jesus still charges them to embark on the Great Commission.

When you’ve failed Jesus, denied him, or not lived up to what you’ve been called, take hope that Jesus doesn’t give up on you and still has a job for you to do.

So, where is Jesus leading you in 2018?

What questions do you need to hear?

What are you looking for?

What does your love for Jesus look like?