We’re attempting to answer the question What exactly are Christians supposed to do? by looking at 50 commands straight from the mouth of Jesus.
Jesus is about to leave Earth. He had one last breakfast with his disciples and then he took Peter aside and asked him three simple questions:
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied. “You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
What if Jesus asked you what he asked Peter? If you think about it, it’s the ultimate question in the universe.
How would you respond? Would your actions back up your answer?
It’s important to note that in the original Greek Jesus used a different word for “love” than Peter in his first two questions. The love Jesus has in mind is agape, which signifies the deeeeep, irreversible, unshakeable, unconditional love of God — or, in other words, total 100% commitment. Peter tempers his first two responses by confessing mere philia love for Jesus, which connotes friendship or affection.
In essence, Jesus asks Peter “Do you LOVE me?” and Peter responds “Yes, Lord, you know I’m fond of you.” (It seems that Peter has learned a lesson from his previous over-the-top declarations that he would never forsake Jesus.)
Interestingly, in his third question Jesus switched to the lower philia love. That question cut Peter to the heart. After acknowledging that Jesus “knows all things,” he admits that philia love is all he’s got.
Jesus’ message never wavers. He wants us to (1) LOVE God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and (2) LOVE our neighbors as ourselves.
What would it look like if we reeeeeally did that? We would (1) follow Jesus and (2) feed his sheep.
Never forget that we’re never alone in that endeavor. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit living inside us 24/7/365 to fill us to overflowing God’s LOVE.
Fill up. Now. Please. The world needs it.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Kruglov_Orda)