The Realm of Love the Sphere of Religion
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…

Some put religion —

1. In the realm of sensuousness. The mere excitement of the senses, by paintings, sculpture, music, gorgeous rites, and tragic anecdotes, is regarded as piety; tears of mere animal sympathy are regarded as the expressions of "godly sorrow," &c.

2. In the sphere of logic. It is in some system of human thought which men call orthodox, and nowhere else.

3. In the realm of external performances. If you attend your place of worship, pay your secular debts, subscribe to charities, you are a religious man. Now, the text suggests, what true reason and the whole Bible teach, that, in the deep moral love of the heart, religion has its seat. Note that this love —


1. Religion is a supreme affection. It is not an ordinary feeling, which flows in the regular current of emotions, and sometimes rises to fervour, and then passes away. It is the master-passion of the soul, or nothing.

2. Religion is supreme affection to Christ. Lovest thou — not merely My ideas, or works, or heaven, but Me. Why should Christ demand this? Because —

(1) It is right in itself. Who ought to have the highest gratitude? The greatest Benefactor, who "gave Himself for us." Who ought to have the highest esteem? The Most Perfect Excellence; Christ is the embodiment of infinite excellence.

(2) It is indispensable to man. Man must love something supremely, and his supreme affection makes him become like the object. If the object is imperfect, unhappy, degraded, he will sink into crime, dishonour, and misery. Hence the necessity of having one like Christ to love.

II. MUST BE A MATTER OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Both the question and answer indicate this. A man cannot be ignorant of the spring of his action, and the central fact of his experience. The object of supreme affection is ever —

1. The chief thought in the intellect.

2. The chief theme in the conversation.

3. The chief end in the design.

4. The chief object in the desire. All the laws of mind must be reversed before it can be otherwise.

III. IS THE QUALIFICATION FOR OFFICE IN CHRIST'S EMPIRE. After Peter's confession — which was sincere, solemn, and thrice repeated — Christ gave Him a commission, which implied —

1. That he would meet with the spiritually needy — hungry sheep, and feeble lambs. The world abounds with these young, inexperienced, undisciplined hungry souls.

2. That he would have at his disposal the suitable supplies for the needy — the doctrines he had received from Christ.

3. That he had the capacity so to present the supplies as to feed the needy. Nothing can qualify a man to help souls but love for Christ. Learning, genius, eloquence — all will not avail without this. This is the only true inspiration.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

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."

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