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'Do you love Me?'
June 7, 2010
by Pastor Lucas Woodford, Zion Lutheran Church, Mayer

“Jesus said to Simon Peter the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’

“Peter was grieved because he said to him the 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 21:17).

“Do you love me?” It is an emotion-filled question. When we ask it, it goes to the very core of our being and breaks open the depth of our vulnerability.

“Do you love me?” a broken-hearted wife asks her husband.

“Do you love me?” a fallen husband asks his wife.

“Do you love me?” a remorseful mother asks her estranged daughter.

The orphan, the troubled teen, and the abused child desperately want to know, “Do you love me?” You can hear the pain in their voices. You can see the longing on their faces.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked this question to Peter, not once, but three times. It was a painful reminder for Peter of the three times he had denied the Lord. Yet, it was also a specific reinstatement and restoration for Peter to do what the Lord had originally called him to do.

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:18-19).

“Do you love me?” At the core of Peter being a fisher of men, and at the heart of Peter feeding sheep was to be the heart of Jesus Christ.

His question was not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But, “Do you love me?”

Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In a world where so many of us longingly ask the question, “Do you love me?” there is an enormous need for men and women, boys and girls, to know the heart of God. In a world full of loneliness and despair, there is tremendous need to know a heart that loves, forgives, cares, and wants to heal. This is the love that we long for and the love that we hope for.

But what happens when it seems like there is no one to love us? To what do we turn? To whom do we look?

For some people, it’s food – if the heart can’t be full, the stomach might as well be. For others, it’s pornography – where the personal love life is empty, the personal home computer fills in. For some, it’s money – maybe it can’t buy love, but it sure is a nice distraction. For others, it’s anger and aggression – “If I have to hurt, others are going to hurt, too!”

Beneath it all, under all our hurt, under all our selfishness, and under all our sinfulness, there remains the question, “Is there anybody who loves me?”

Is there anybody who really cares? Is there anybody who wants to be with me when I am not in control, and when I feel like crying? Is there anybody who can hold me and give me a sense of belonging?”

Jesus answers that question. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

His word of love fills the empty void in our hearts. His acts of love, His call to repentance, His death and His resurrection, bring meaning to our sin-filled and broken lives.

Jesus Christ comes as the incarnation of God’s love. From his heart, flow streams of living water.

You and I rest in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ: His death, for our deliverance – His forgiveness, for our failures – His love, for our lives – His resurrection, for our restoration.