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 A SOLEMN QUESTION, not for His own information, but for Peter's examination, it is well, especially after a foul sin, that the Christian should well probe the wound. Note what this question was.
1. It was concerning Peter's love. He did not say, "Fearest thou Me?" "Dost thou admire or adore Me?" Nor was it even a question concerning his faith. That is because love is the best evidence of piety. He that lacks love must lack every other grace in proportion. If love be little, fear and courage will be little.
2. He did not ask Peter anything about his doings. He did not say, "How much hast thou wept? How often hast thou on thy knees sought mercy?" Though works follow love, yet love excelleth the works, and works without love are not evidences worth having.
3. We have very much cause for asking ourselves this question. If our Saviour were no more than a man like ourselves, He might often doubt whether we love Him at all. Let me lust remind you of sundry things which give us very great cause to ask this question.
(1) Hast thou not sinned? "Is this thy kindness to thy Friend?"(2) Does not thy worldliness make thee doubt? Thou hast been occupied with the shop, the exchange, the farmyard; and thou hast had little time to commune with Him!
(3) How cold thou hast been at the mercy-seat!
II. A DISCREET ANSWER. Jesus asked him, in the first place, whether he loved Him better than others. Simon would not say that: he had once been proud and thought he was better than the other disciples. There is no loving heart that will think it loves better than the least of God's children. But Peter answered not as to the quantity but as to the quality of his love. Some of us would have answered foolishly. We should have said, "Lord, I have preached for Thee so many times; I have distributed to the poor; Thou hast given me grace to walk humbly, faithfully, and honestly, and therefore, Lord, I think I can say, I love Thee." We should have brought forward our good works as being the evidences of our love. That would have been a very good answer if we had been questioned by our fellow-man, but it would be foolish for us to tell the Master that. The Master might have said to Peter, had he appealed to his works, "I did not ask thee what are the evidences of thy love, I asked the fact of it." Very likely some would have said, "Love Thee, Lord? Why, my heart is all on fire towards Thee; I feel as if I could go to prison and to death for Thee!" But that would have been very foolish, because although we may often rejoice in our own feelings, it would not do to plead them with our Lord. In such manner Peter had spoken before; but a sorry mess he made of it. But no, Peter was wise; he did not bring forward his feelings nor his evidences. But, as though he shall say, "Lord, I appeal to Thine Omniscience: Thou knowest that I love Thee." Now, could we give such an answer? There is a test. If thou art a hypocrite, thou mightest say, "Lord, my minister, the deacons, the members, my friends think I love Thee, for they often hear me talk about Thee." But thou couldst not say, "Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee"; thine own heart is witness that thy secret works belie thy confession, for thou art without prayer in secret; thou art niggardly in giving to the cause of Christ; thou art an angry, petulant creature, &c. But thou, O sincere Christian, thou canst answer with holy fear and gracious confidence. Such a question was never lint to Judas. The response is recorded for thee, "Lord, Thou knowest," &c.
III. A DEMONSTRATION REQUIRED. "Lovest thou Me?" Then one of the best evidences is —
1. To feed My lambs. Have I two or three little children that love and fear My name? If thou wantest to do a deed, which shalt show that thou art a true lover, and not a proud pretender; go and feed them. In the ancient Churches there was what was called the catechism class — I believe there ought to be such a class now. The Sabbath school, I believe, is in the Scripture; and I think there ought to be on a Sabbath afternoon a class of the young people of this Church, who are members already, to be taught by some of the elder members.
2. But we cannot all do that; the lambs cannot feed the lambs; the sheep cannot feed the sheep exactly. Therefore allow me to say to some of you, that there are different kinds of proof you must give. "Lovest thou Me?" Then preserve that prayer-meeting; see to thy servants that they go to the house of God. Do something to prove thy love.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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."