From time to time, issues can come up in a business deal or in a personal relationship, and we have unfinished business until it has been talked out. Such was the case with Peter. He had denied knowing our Lord following Jesus’ arrest. Consequently, Peter was an unhappy, guilt-ridden man.
In today’s text, Peter and some of the other disciples were near the Sea of Tiberias when they decided to go fishing. They fished all night long but didn’t catch a single fish, even though they were fishermen by trade. In the morning, Jesus stood on the shore and called out to them to throw their nets on the right side of the boat. Even though they did not recognize Jesus, the disciples did as they were told, and were unable to haul in the net because of the number of fish.
Then John recognized Jesus, and Peter jumped into the water and rushed up to Him. The disciples ate breakfast with the Lord, then Jesus initiated a conversation with Simon Peter. “Peter, do you love me more than these?”
Why do you think he used the words, “more than these”? During the last supper in the upper room, Jesus told the disciples that they would all betray him. But Peter argued, indicating his love for Jesus was deeper than all the rest. He didn’t know how weak his faith really was.
Notice Peter’s answer to Jesus question, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter said, “Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus gave the absolution, the declaration of the forgiveness of his sins, when he said, “Feed my lambs.” This meant Peter should feed those who had just been converted in order for them to become great people of God.
Jesus again asked, “Peter, do you love me?”, and Peter replied, “You know that I love you.” But the third time he is asked the question, Peter answered, “Lord, you know everything! You know that I love you.” Jesus replied with words to indicate what Peter’s love for the Savior will mean: Peter, if you really love me, minister to those who want to live in a relationship with me. But remember this, your devotion to me will mean more than just telling the world that I am the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The cost of loving me and being my disciple will cost you your life.
Peter did indeed suffer much for the Lord Jesus. He was martyred in Rome around the year 68 A.D. when he learned what it truly meant to follow Jesus and his unfinished business with Jesus was finished.
Those of us who call ourselves Christians also need to listen to Jesus’ words. We often talk about a personal relationship with God. Well, here it is for us: Our Lord Jesus Christ is asking us, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” He wants us to take the Gospel to the far parts of the earth, just as he asked the eleven disciples to do.
We have to ask ourselves, do we really love him? Did I take time to talk to Jesus today? Did I take my Bible out and read it? Maybe you read that familiar passage in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That is a dogmatic truth from Jesus. Or perhaps you read, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.
So now, Jesus asks us, “Do you love me?” His question to us is as clear as it was to Peter by the Sea of Tiberias. If you love me, you have the assurance of the forgiveness of your sins. So why, when you are with a group of friends and the subject of life after death comes up, you say that you don’t know what life on the other side is about, or if we have not done enough good works to make it?
If we truly are Christ’s disciples, we will experience many difficult moments and people will call us crazy. Jesus asks, “Do you love me more than these or are you concerned only about yourself? You have a lot of really nice friends who have no relationship with me. What about them? Listen to the words I give you, which you find in the Scriptures and in your churches, and in your small groups.”
Remember Zacchaeus, a small man who climbed up into the sycamore tree because he wanted to see the Lord as he came into town that day. The Lord Jesus came over to him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down. I’m going to your house today.”
So when Zacchaeus and Jesus arrived at his home, they began to chat. And their conversation may have gone like this: “Zacchaeus, do you love me?”
Zacchaeus replied, “Well, Lord, I admire you. I know you are a great man for you have done some great things.”
Then Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, I am more than that.” (There you see unfinished business.) Zacchaeus did not trust Jesus as his only Savior, for he had earned a lot of money and could do a lot of things. Why would he need to do any more?
I think they talked throughout much of the night, and in the morning, when they met for breakfast, Jesus asked, “Zacchaeus, what do you think about our conversation last night?”
“O Lord, I have much to say. I love you.” Then the Lord tells him to share what he’s learned with his friends. So Zacchaeus goes out and announces to them that if he has stolen from anyone, he will restore it four fold, and he is going to give to the poor.
When the unfinished business is taken care of, Jesus can begin to use us. When we have love in our hearts for Jesus, we won’t just say we love the Lord, it will show in our actions. We will talk to some of the Zacchaeuses who are around and need somebody to tell them that Jesus loves them too and died on the cross for them.
Jesus is the risen, loving Lord who will come again. He loves you and wants to take you home to heaven. But he also wants to walk with you while you are here. And he wants you to take care of other people too. So he is telling us to feed his people. He created them all, and he loves them. Be near them.