So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes…
I. THE NATURE OF TRUE LOVE TO CHRIST. Love is an affection resulting from the perception of excellences in the persons beloved, causing us to desire the most intimate communion with them, and making us enjoy from an intercourse with them the sweetest pleasures. And hence it follows, that love to Christ is that grace whereby, upon a discovery of the Redeemer's matchless excellences, the souls of believers are caused to thirst after a more intimate union with Him, and they esteem an intercourse with Him their chief joy.
1. What is the foundation of this love? In order that we should love any object, three things are requisite: this object must have certain excellences; these excellences must be perceived by us; and there must be a conformity between these excellences and the inclinations of our hearts.
(1) The Saviour has those excellences which render Him lovely. In Himself, He is the perfection of beauty. Every excellence is concentrated in Him in an infinite degree, so that the eternal Father always beholds Him with delight, and the splendid host of heaven gaze upon Him with wonder and love. He moreover has precisely those graces which fit Him to be the Saviour.
(2) But even these excellences, till they are presented to us, cannot be effectual in moving our love. The diamond may have a dazzling brightness, yet we shall not admire it till it is presented to our view. God has therefore been pleased in the Scriptures to unveil to us the beauties of Immanuel, that so we might perceive how deserving He is of all our love.
(3) Still, however, this is not sufficient to kindle the holy fire. However brightly the sun may shine, yet as long as the eye is distempered, its light will afford, not pleasure, but pain, because there is not a correspondence between these two objects. In like manner, as long as the soul is distempered by sin, the revelation of Christ will excite enmity, not love, because there is no correspondency between it and the corrupt inclinations of the sinner's heart. It is evident, then, that a correspondency of heart is requisite to produce true love to Christ; and this correspondency can be produced only by the mighty operation of the Holy Ghost renewing our minds.
2. Its properties. It is —
(1) Enlightened; it knows and delights in the real character of the Saviour.
(2) Ultimate. It terminates on this Saviour as its end, and does not regard Him merely as a means to further blessedness.
(3) Supreme, and predominates over every attachment to the objects of earth.
(4) Permanent. It is not like those streams in the desert, which sometimes rush forward in an impetuous torrent, and at others, entirely dry up; it resembles rather a mighty stream, steadily rolling its waves along, and growing deeper and wider, till it empties itself in heaven, the ocean of love.
3. Its effects.
(1) A cheerful, constant, and universal obedience to His commandments. "If any man love Me, He will keep My words."(2) A love to everything whereby Christ is displayed. If Christ be loved, the Holy Spirit who "takes of the things of Christ," &c., will be loved also; and His scriptures, His ordinances, His children, His cause and interest.
(3) A longing for His presence.
II. SOME MOTIVES TO THIS LOVE. Love to Christ is —
(1) Because He has incomparably greater excellences. Accumulate, heap one upon one another all the qualities that can captivate a feeling heart, they are all perfectly combined in Him. On what article will you institute a comparison between these idols who possess your affection, and the mighty Saviour? On that of power? His arm upholds the universe; upon it universal nature fixedly hangs. On that of wisdom? His eye at one glance pervades all being, and runs through the past, the present, and the future. On that of permanence? "From everlasting to everlasting He is God." On that of mercy? Angels confess that their faculties are too weak to comprehend His goodness, and their tongues too feeble worthily to celebrate it.
(2) Of what He has done for you in creation, providence and grace.
(3) Of what Christ can and will do, if you give Him your affections? Others can bestow only trifling gratifications whilst you are on earth. While Jesus alone affords a felicity commensurate with the faculties, coeval with the existence of the soul.
2. It is pleasant. In every situation of life the exercise of love to Christ affords the purest satisfaction; but its effects are more especially seen in those seasons when earthly loves can profit us little — in affliction, in death, in judgment.
(E. Griffin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
WEB: So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."