The Grand Inquiry
John 21:15-17
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…

The question is —

I. REASONABLE. Because we ought to love Him, and the affection is just. Contemplate —

1. His Person. He is altogether lovely: comprising in Himself all the graces of time and of eternity; all the attractions of humanity and of Deity. Bring forward all the excellences the world ever saw; add as many more as the imagination can supply: all this aggregate is no more to Him than a ray of light to the sun, or a drop of water to the ocean.

2. His doings.

(1)  Look backward, and consider what He has done.

(2)  Look upward, and consider what He is doing.

(3)  Look forward, and consider what He will do.

3. His sufferings. To enable Him to be our best friend, He submitted to a scene of humiliation and anguish, such as no tongue can express, or imagination conceive. Never was there sorrow — and, therefore, never was there love — like thine! But we must observe, not only what He suffers for us, but what He suffers from us, and suffers in us. "For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." He that toucheth us toucheth the apple of His eye. "O, for this love, let rocks and hills," &c

II. IMPORTANT, because we must love Him: and the affection is not only just but necessary —

1. To our sanctification. Love is a transforming principle. By constant residence in the mind, the image stamps and leaves its own resemblance.

2. To give us delight in all our religious services. It is the nature of love to render difficult things easy, and bitter ones sweet. What was it that turned the seven years of hard bondage that Jacob served for Rachel into so many pleasant days? What is it that more than reconciles that mother to numberless nameless anxieties and privations in rearing her baby charge? But there is no love like that which a redeemed sinner bears to his Redeemer; and, therefore, no pleasure can equal that which he enjoys in pleasing Him.

3. To render our duties acceptable. The Lord looketh to the heart; and when this is given up to Him, He values the motive, though we err in the circumstances.

4. To ascertain our interest in the Saviour's regards. His followers are not described by their knowledge, their gifts, their creed, their profession; but by their cordial adherence to Him., His love produces ours; but our love evinces His — "I love them that love Me."

III. SUPPOSES DOUBT. Is there nothing in you to render this love suspicious —

1. To the world? You are not only to be Christians, but to appear such. Have you risen up for Him against the evildoers, and never denied His name, nor concealed His truth?

2. To the Church? There are many of whom, as the apostle says, "We stand in doubt." But your ministers and fellow-members are entitled to satisfaction concerning, if not the degree, the reality of your religion.

3. To yourselves. "Tis a point I long to know," &c. If I loved Him — could I ever read without pleasure the Book that unveils His glories — could I ever fear to die — could I feel so impatient under those afflictions that make me a partaker of the fellowship of His sufferings?

4. To the Saviour. There is a sense in which this is impossible. We are all transparency before Him. But we are to distinguish the question of right from the question of fact. With regard to right, He may, and He often does, complain in His Word, as if He was disappointed and surprised at the conduct of His professing people. Estimating our proficiency by our advantages, ought He not to have found in us what He has yet sought for in vain.

IV. ADMITS OF SOLUTION It is not only possible, but comparatively easy, to know whether we love another. And here it will be in vain for you to allege that the ease before us is a peculiar one, because the object is invisible. For many of us never saw Howard, but who does not feel veneration at the mention of his name? How, then, will this love show itself?

1. By our thoughts. These naturally follow the object of our regard, and it is with difficulty we can draw them off. David could say, "I love Thee, O Lord, my strength." And what was the consequence? "How precious are Thy thoughts unto me, O God!"

2. By our speech. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

3. By desire after intimacy. Separation is a grief. Distance is a torture. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks," &c.

4. By devotedness to the service and glory of its Master. Nothing can authenticate the existence of this principle in our hearts, detached from this regard to His will. "He that hath My commandments," &c.

(W. Jay.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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."

The Flock Must be Fed, not Amused
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