The Great Question-Epilogue

 

Jesus would live with His disciples, traveling with them and teaching them for 3 ˝ years. After His death and resurrection, Jesus met for the third time with some of His disciples at the sea of Tiberias where they were fishing.

* After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Jn 21:1 NKJV+

*This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. Jn 21:14 NKJV+

 

Some of the disciples of Jesus, including Peter and John, did not recognize Jesus when He appeared on shore. Yet they obeyed the man they saw on the shore, when he told them they would catch more fish by putting their nets down on the right side of their boat. As they were coming back in from fishing, John understood the miracle of all the fish they had caught, knew the man on the shore was Jesus. Jesus had a fire going and the disciples brought some of their fish and had breakfast with Him.

*But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jn 21:4 NKJV+

*And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch." So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. Jn 21:6-7 NASB+

*Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"--knowing that it was the Lord. Jn 21:12 NKJV+

 

After they ate breakfast Jesus asked Peter an unexpected question. This question was not meant for Peter alone, but will be asked of each and every person who will ever live on this earth. This one question defines whether one is a child of God, or a child of satan and this world. Jesus asked Peter, Do you love me, do you really love me more than anything else?

*When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."  Jn 21:15 NIV+

 

Jesus would ask the question two more times, to reinforce the question, the importance, the meaning, and the answer. Not only for Peter who had denied Jesus three times when He was under arrest, but for all people, believers and unbelievers to really consider, and search their hearts. Do we love something more than Jesus, whether it is power, riches, pleasures, or our pride, does not matter. Jesus will ask each one of us, “Do you love me, do you really love me more than anything else?”

*He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."  Jn 21:16 NKJV+

*The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because 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. Jn 21:17 NIV+

 

It is not the words coming out of our mouths that save us, but the love we have for our Savior in our hearts. We must love Jesus more than our spouse, our family, our friends, even more than our own lives.

*"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Matt 10:37 NASB+

*When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. Mk 8:34-35 NKJV+

 

Peter is the perfect illustration of how we can be deceived by our human mind, our human will, into believing we love our Savior above all things, without His help. Peter, at the Last Supper, told Jesus he would never deny Him. Peter was even willing to defend our Master with a knife, when Jesus was first arrested.

* Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples. Matt 26:34-35 NKJV+

* Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave's name was Malchus. Jn 18:10 NASB+

 

Yet when Peter was not strong enough to face public humiliation and persecution after Jesus was arrested. Peter tried to distance himself from Jesus, when others said he was a disciple, a follower of Jesus, and denied he knew Him. Today we also face many challenges of peer pressure and political correctness. Which keep us from standing up for our Savior, which keep us from making Him number one in our lives.

*Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." Matt 26:69-70 NASB+

 

Peter would also deny Jesus two more times once with an oath, then swearing and cursing to prove he did not know Jesus. The rooster would then crow, and Peter would see Jesus looking at him, the last time Peter would see Jesus before He was crucified on the cross. What an empty feeling he must have had in his heart!

*And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"  Matt 26:71-72 NKJV+

*After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Matt 26:73-74 NIV+

*The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. Lk 22:61-62 NASB+

 

Peter would next see Jesus on the night following His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to His disciples. On this night Jesus would give the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to His disciples (excluding Thomas and Judas). Peter was born again, he was now a Child of God, an heir to Heaven. The Spirit had written the perfect answer to our Savior’s question in Peter’s heart, had given him the ability to love Jesus more than anything else. Peter no longer had to fear being ready for the day he would die, never had to worry about facing the wrath of God. Jesus extends His grace to all of us, all who will love Him more than anything else.

* So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Jn 20:21-22 NKJV+

*Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 1Co 12:3 NIV+

 

Peter now had the spiritual love in his heart to do whatever Jesus would have him do. Peter would feed his Master’s sheep, would preach the Gospel, the good news of grace through Jesus Christ. Peter ministry was primarily to the Jewish people, although he also brought the gospel to the gentiles in his latter years. 

*The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because 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. Jn 21:17 NIV+

 

Peter now had the spiritual passion, the courage to follow Jesus where ever it would lead him, even to his death. Peter would have the strength to be led to the cross, have his hands stretched out, and die the painful death of crucifixion, rather than deny Jesus. Because his love was great enough to give his life for his Savior, Peter was able to glorify God even in his death. This is what real Christian love, real Christian passion in our hearts is all about. Not mere words that float into the air, but the passionate love in one’s heart to give all we have, our lives, to the one we love the most, Jesus.

*"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!" Jn 21:18-19 NASB+

 

We will never be able to completely live as our Lord would have us live, we will always sin. But that is just another reason why we love our Savior so much. Jesus came down from Heaven, became man, and died on a cross to atone for our sins. When we repent Jesus graciously forgives our sins, they are remembered no more. When we allow the Spirit to live in our hearts, bring the love of Christ into our lives, we are spiritually assured that we are the children of God. And anytime Jesus asks us, “Do you love me,” we can humbly proclaim, Jesus I love you more than anything else.

 

*For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil 1:21 ASV

 

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Copyright 2007, amended 2012 by Ron Borkey

+ NIV Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

+ NASB "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

+ NKJV "Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."