“God, who has called you into fellowship
with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
(1 Corinthians 1:9, NIV)
Once our Savior asked Peter a searching question, “…do you love Me more than these?” His answer was a resounding “Yes!” The Lord then responded with this instruction, Peter – “feed My lambs…and take care of My sheep.” (John 21:15b, 16b).
Jesus wanted Peter’s love to be tangible, so it had to be supremely real! That principle remains equally true for us today. God will always evaluate our love in terms of practical obedience. This means more to Him than our tears and ever-changing emotions. He knows exactly how we feel, but for us as His disciples, love has to do with – the way we invest our time, influence, and financial resources. The depth of our devotion is reflected by how well we obey the Holy Spirit. To verify this, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
As you meditate on the meaning of fellowship with our Savior, be careful not to equate the attribute of believing with deeply loving Him! There can be a tremendous difference! Consider this, at the same time when Jesus told Peter to “feed [His] lambs,” all of His disciples, including Thomas, had already believed in Him. This explains why His conversation with Peter was no longer focused on the issue of faith. The Lord’s post-resurrection discussion with the big fisherman was intended to help his spiritual understanding. Peter needed to grasp that love for Christ is best demonstrated by serving those whom the Master died to save!
Jesus’ questions about loving Him took Peter far beyond the experience of his initial belief. Well before His crucifixion, Jesus had already said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Now, soon after His resurrection, His haunting inquiry was simply, “Simon, do you truly love Me…?” (John 21:16, NIV) This issue was made personal and very specific.
Overflowing love for God is spontaneous as we begin to personally consider the limitless sacrifice that provided our Salvation. When this spiritual understanding transpires, we will have learned to be still and think about how our heavenly Father gave the gift of – His own dear Son! Coming to grips with God’s grace is how we begin to appreciate forgiveness. Jesus, our Savior, was the unblemished Lamb long before the world was ever formed. As heaven’s Lamb, He willingly became our substitute (see John 1:29)! He alone was able to take our place and bear the penalty of our iniquity. Paul explained this fathomless act of love with profound simplicity:
“God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)
As grateful recipients of Heaven’s mercy, it is unthinkable for us to ignore the spiritual needs of the many seekers who are around us. In that spirit, the first disciples said, “We cannot help but speak about what we have experienced.” (Acts 4:20) Our witness comes from the inner joy of knowing who we are in the light of what – we were – before receiving His grace!
By Billie Hanks Jr.