After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, â€œSimon son of John, do you love me more than these?â€
â€œYes, Lord,â€ Peter replied, â€œyou know I love you.â€
â€œThen feed my lambs,â€ Jesus told him.
17 A third time he asked him, â€œSimon son of John, do you love me?â€
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, â€œLord, you know everything. You know that I love you.â€
Jesus said, â€œThen feed my sheep.
18 â€œI tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you donâ€™t want to go.â€ Â Â Â Â Â John 21:15-18 (NLT)
In the past 24 hours I have heard several pieces of news that are unexpected and sad. The tornadoes that killed over 50 people in Oklahoma, including children in their schools seem like random tragedies that are difficult to wrap our minds around. Why this city? Why this school? Why this house? Why this family? Why this child?
The passage of Scripture that came to me to read and meditate did not seem connected at first to the prayers that I was speaking from my heart. But God heard my prayers and He had something for me.
I am talking to you. The gospels relate that Jesus usually called this disciple â€“ Peter. But here, Jesus uses his full name. I remember when my mother called me by my full name! I knew she meant me and I’d better listen up! I think Jesus is doing the same here. He wants Peter to understand that this is important and he needs to really listen.
God knows all the corners and closets in my heart. The writer of the gospel tells us that Peter is hurt and confused about why Jesus asks him the same question three times. And I may wonder when God seems to be testing my allegiance. After all, God does know all of my heart. He knows the depth and the limitations of my love for Him. He knows when I try to keep Him locked out of something I do not want Him to deal with. And maybe that is why God asks a question more than once? Maybe that is why God takes me â€œaround the mountain againâ€ when I thought I had learned a lesson. God knows.
If â€“ then. And here is that â€œcause and effectâ€ that I first learned in math class but is also true in every day life. IF I love You, LORD, THEN I will feed and take care of Your children.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
Jesus tells me to take care of His children â€“ not just the ones that I like or that like me.
It will involve sacrifice. Jesus tells Peter that this â€œwayâ€ of showing love will involve sacrifice, maybe even great sacrifice. Reaching out to someone who has hurt me, rejected me is not easy. Extending kindness to that same person is a sacrifice. Doing it all without any acknowledgment, let alone thanks, is a sacrifice to be laid on the altar for God’s glory, because it will be for His eyes only.
More and more I am hearing God tell me to open my eyes and heart to see and hear opportunities to be His ambassador to a world that is being crushed by indifference and an attitude of â€œWhat will this get me?â€ A smile, a kind word, going the extra mile without keeping a ledger are random acts of kindness that do nothing more â€“ than extend my love to God. Will it be a sacrifice? Maybe. But then Jesus has already made the sacrifice for me, hasn’t He?
So instead of just asking “why?” when sad, tragic times come into my life, take a deep breath and call out to God. In His strength look for opportunities to be love to someone by offering a hand or word that says, “You are not alone.”
Love is the Greatest Gift of All from Colby’s Missing Memory, Marantha Singers