“Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matt. 26:35). Bold affirmations such as Peter’s get our attention. Will he live up to his boldness or melt under the pressure? If he lives up to his affirmation, we call him courageous and consider him a hero. If he melts, we consider him a failure. Peter did deny the Lord. In that moment, he failed. Later, Jesus would ask Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” (John. 21:15-17). Peter had affirmed his attachment to the Lord before. Now after all that Peter had been through Jesus wants to know what affect all this has had on him. Likewise, we must know what impact the word of God has had on our lives and how we presently feel toward Jesus.
Jesus asked Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these…” Consider, lovest thou me more than these other disciples love me? Peter had boasted of his great love for Jesus, even his superior love for Jesus. Peter’s love for the Lord was seen by his refusal to have Jesus wash his feet, by being the first to draw the sword in Jesus’ defense, and by deserting others to swim and meet Jesus. Jesus asks if indeed his love is greater than that of his fellow disciples. Peter said though all others would forsake the Lord he would not. Jesus is testing him.
With whom do we really compare ourselves? Peter professed a greater love than the other disciples. How great was it? We can always look to the scoundrel or hypocrite to compare ourselves. Even a snake is higher than a worm. Instead of the worst example to measure ourselves why not the best? Do we manifest love like the best? The best like Stephen, James, or John the baptizer? How high will we rise if our example of greatness is the sorriest? No wonder Peter faltered. His love for Jesus was no higher than his fellow disciples. We need to compare ourselves to Christ. Jesus even demands our love for Him to be first before our love for family (Matt. 10:37). One young man wanted to go back and bury his father then follow Jesus. Jesus told him to “let the dead bury the dead. You follow me” (Lk. 9:59-62).
Jesus asked, “Lovest thou me more than these….” Consider, Lovest thou me more than these things? Discouraged, Peter said, “I go a fishing.” Perhaps he had lost hope, or perhaps he is just waiting for Jesus. Nonetheless, lovest thou me more than business? Peter did give up fishing for following Jesus. How about us? Do we sing, “Heaven holds all to me” except…. Do we really the Lord more than things if we subject our responsibility to Him to all else first? Such love is not just about attendance but doing His will, caring for others, teaching others. Who do we love most? The fish are biting; whom do we love most? Hunting season comes, and if I don’t get out there on Sunday morning, all the good ones will be gone. Do I worship the buck or the Lord? To whom who do we compare our love for the Lord? That of others who also love the buck more than the Lord?
Love for the Lord can be seen by our esteemed values. That is, by what we count important. Obviously, not all consider the same things important. What is trivial to one may be another’s treasure. But this much is sure, no man ever treats his treasure as trivial. Second, one’s devotion to his special interest will likely be conspicuously manifested (Matt. 6:21). The heart is where the treasure is and the mouth will soon reveal it. Peter’s mouth did; he denied the Lord. Our priorities tell on us because we like to tell about them. Sooner or later the conversation will be centered on or around our interest. Our auditors hear but what do they hear? What would our friends list as important to us? Whom do you love most? Priorities tell. Third, consider how you redeem your time. We always find time for doing what we want to do and seldom find time for doing what we don’t want to do.
Finally, there is a relationship between the charge “feed my sheep” and the question “lovest thou me more than these?” If Peter loves the master, he will feed the masters sheep. Whatever is done for the lambs is done for the master. We must love Christ above all else and all others. If Jesus had shown the same love for us that we show for Him, what would be our chances for salvation?
Oh, one more thing, Peter was not a failure. He did die for the Lord. He is a hero. His denial was a momentary glitch on an otherwise courageous life, not unlike what people of God experience today. So when we see someone fail give that one a chance to be a Peter.
By Rickie Jenkins