John 21:17
Jesus asked a third time, "Simon son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, "Do you love Me?" "Lord, You know all things," he replied. "You know I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
Sermons
Care for ChildrenPreacher's Lantern.John 21:15-17
Care for the ChildrenW. Baxendale.John 21:15-17
Children a Trust from GodDr. Potter.John 21:15-17
Christ Loved from GratitudeC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Christ's Sympathy with the Lambs of His FlockJ. Mood.John 21:15-17
Claims of ChildrenJoseph Cook.John 21:15-17
Conscious Love for ChristH. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 21:15-17
Conscious Love for JesusDr. Thompson.John 21:15-17
Feed My LambsNewman Hall, LL. B.John 21:15-17
Feed My SheepC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Importance of ChildrenFamily TreasuryJohn 21:15-17
Jesus Questioning Peter's LoveC. J. Deems, D. D.John 21:15-17
Love a Good AuguryC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Love Before its JudgeC. Stanford, D. D.John 21:15-17
Love to ChristR. Watson.John 21:15-17
Love to ChristD. S. Brunton.John 21:15-17
Love to ChristCongregational RemembrancerJohn 21:15-17
Love to ChristHomiletic MonthlyJohn 21:15-17
Love to Christ UniqueLacordaire.John 21:15-17
Love to the SaviourE. Griffin, D. D.John 21:15-17
Lovest Thou MeC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Lovest Thou MeBp. Ryle.John 21:15-17
Lovest Thou MeC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Lovest Thou Me?J. Stalker, M. A.John 21:15-17
Ministering to ChildrenJ. Houghton, D. D.John 21:15-17
Of Zoning JesusJ. O. Dykes, D. D.John 21:15-17
Peter's Confession of Love to ChristA. Mackennal, D . D.John 21:15-17
Peter's RestorationA. Gray.John 21:15-17
ShepherdingR. J. M'Ghee, M. A., C. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
Supreme Love for ChristD. Judson, D. D.John 21:15-17
Tending the LambsUnion MagazineJohn 21:15-17
The Christian's Love for ChristH. D. Northrop.John 21:15-17
The Claims of ChildrenSocrates.John 21:15-17
The Flock Must be Fed, not AmusedC. H. Spurgeon.John 21:15-17
The Grand InquiryW. Jay.John 21:15-17
The Pastoral OfficeB. Thomas John 21:15-17
The Realm of Love the Sphere of ReligionD. Thomas, D. D.John 21:15-17
The Risen Jesus Questioning Peter's LoveC. Bradley, M. A.John 21:15-17
The Shepherding of the LambsW. G. Horder.John 21:15-17
The Supreme QuestionJ. L. Nye.John 21:15-17


To comprehend this interview and dialogue, it is necessary to look at preceding circumstances. In a conversation which took place before our Lord's betrayal, Peter had made the most ardent professions of attachment and devotion to his Master. Though all should forsake Jesus, yet would not he! He was willing even to die with him! But the events of the awful night of the Lord's apprehension and mock trial before the Jewish council, had made evident the moral weakness of spiritual fiber which was hidden by his impetuous fervor. Peter's faith had failed, and he had been led by timidity to deny the Lord he loved. That he repented of his cowardice, and that with bitter tears, was known to the Master whom he had wronged. These circumstances account for the language of Jesus when he met his disciple by the lake of Galilee. Jesus elicited from his follower the thrice-repeated expression of his love, and, having done this, treated Peter as one restored and reconciled, imparted to him his apostolic commission, and predicted his future of service and of martyrdom. Turning from the special incident which called for the question and the answer here recorded, we direct attention to what is practical and of universal application.

I. A POINTED QUESTION. "Lovest thou me?"

1. This question implies that Christ has a claim upon our love. This claim is founded upon:

(1) His supreme worthiness to be loved. Who, in himself, in character, in moral excellence, can be compared with Jesus, as the Object of human affection? He was admired and loved on earth; but since his ascension he has been more intensely and far more widely admired and loved by those whom he has left behind him. In a word, he deserves love; and we "needs must love the worthiest."

(2) His love to us. Christ's is no cold, elevated dignity and excellence. He is a Being of benevolence, compassion, and tenderness; and these qualities he has displayed towards us. His love and kindness to men are simply the expression of his holy, gracious nature. He first loved us; and, if we love him not, we prove our insensibility and moral debasement. There is nothing meanly interested and unworthy in the love Christ's people bear him.

(3) Especially upon his sacrifice and death. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;" and this proof of Divine affection Jesus gave. His was the love which is "stronger than death."

"Which of all our friends, to save us.
Could or would have shed his blood?
But Immanuel died to have us
Reconciled in him to God.
This was boundless love indeed:
Jesus is a Friend in need."

2. This question implies that Christ is solicitous and desirous of our love. Men often seek the friendship of those who are above them in abilities, in station, in character, in power. Jesus does just the contrary when he condescends to ask our love. It is a proof of his disinterested and benevolent affection, that Jesus should deign to address to each hearer of His Word the question, "Lovest thou me?"

3. This question implies that in Christ's view our love towards himself is of vast importance to us. To love him, as he knows full well, is to man the spring of the truly religious life. It is the surest means of becoming like him. Nay, to love Christ is to be in the way of loving everything that is good. It must not be supposed that such affection is the merely sentimental side of religion; it is closely connected with practice, for love is the divinely ordered motive to duty and service. How different is Christianity from other and merely human religions! These teach men to fear God, to propitiate God, but never to love God. Jesus draws our love towards himself, and thus leads us into love to God as the element of our higher life.

II. As ARDENT RESPONSE. In the case of Peter, the reply to our Lord's pointed question was most satisfactory. It may well be pondered as an example for us, as Christians, to imitate. It was:

1. An affirmative answer, inconsistent with coldness, indifference, and mere respect.

2. A modest and not a boastful answer. Peter had endured a bitter experience of the mischief of self-confidence and boastfulness; into this sin he was not likely again to fall.

3. A cordial and sincere answer, opposed to merely formal and verbal profession.

4. An open and public answer, such as should ever be given to the rightful Lord and holy Friend of man.

5. A consistent answer - one supported by a lit e of loving devotion.

6. An acceptable and accepted answer. When Jesus asks our heart, and we yield it, never need we fear lest he should reject what we offer. - T.







So when they had dined, Jesus saith... Simon son of Judas, lovest thou Me more than these?
I. THE LORD'S QUESTION.

1. The question itself.(1) The feeling inquired about. Other feelings there are which often move the soul; but love surpasses them all. Every one knows what is meant by love.(2) The object of the love to which the question relates. The question is not, dost thou love at all? Perhaps there never was a heart so hard as to be entirely a stranger to it. The question is, among the various objects thy love embraces, is that object to be found whose claim is paramount? We say not that unrenewed persons do not love at all; but they love other objects in place of Christ. But the new birth carries up the dear emotion to the object that best deserves it.(3) The degree of this love to Christ. The question may mean, either, "Lovest thou Me more than these men? or more than these things," and calls upon us to say, not that we love the Lord, but how much we love Him. Does it prevail over the love we feel for inferior objects?

2. The circumstance that Christ puts the question. It is often put by Christ's friends and ministers; but it comes with deeper meaning and greater power from Christ. It implies —(1) That Christ considers He has a claim to the love of His people. What are the grounds of this claim? We ought to love Him —(a) For what He is. What saith the law? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart," &c., "and thy neighbour as thyself." God and man, as Christ is, in one Person, both tables of the law command Him to be loved —(b) For what He has done: long ago as God the Son in the council of peace, and in human history as the Man Christ Jesus.(2) That He sets a value on His people s love. When another asks you, "Lovest thou Christ?" you cannot gather from it that Christ Himself cares whether you love Him or not. But Christ's own inquiry shows that the matter is not indifferent to Him. Despise His people's level He reckons it a portion of His reward. And, when He sees its fruits, He sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied.(3) That He is concerned for the prosperity of His people's souls. The love of Christ is inseparably connected with the love of God.(4) Let us advert to some of the occasions when Christ puts the question.(a) The occasion of showing His own love. Such was the present. He was fresh from Calvary. "Lovest thou Me? See how I have loved thee!" Such is the occasion when a sinner is converted. Then, for the first time, a sense of Christ's love breaks in.(b) When He gives His people special work to do.(c) In the day of temptation, and suffering for His sake. Trials bring our love to the proof.

3. The circumstance that Christ repeats it. The gospel ministry puts it from week to week. Why? Because —(1) Love to Christ is of vital importance.(2) There is a spurious love to Christ, a feeling of sentimentalism, which is called, by some, love to Christ. There are some, too, who love a Christ of their own, who, they fancy, takes away the sting from sin. As if that were possible, or that God's holy Son would do it if He could!

II. THE DISCIPLE'S ANSWER. We cannot say that believers are always able to reply as Peter did. There are times when they think that they do not love the Lord. And. there are times when the utmost length they can go is, "Lord, I can scarcely tell if I love Thee or not." Yet there are times when they can use Peter's language. Secret seasons of enlargement, when the Lord unveils His face to them, and they see the King in His beauty. Words are good, but not essential; and there is an answer in the heart which the Lord can interpret right well.

1. Who does not know that true love can proclaim its existence through the eyes when the tongue says nothing? The soul has eyes as well as the body. And, when God's people are meditating on Christ, what are they doing but feasting the eyes of their souls, and involuntarily declaring their love to Him?

2. There are acts of memory also, which are the consequences of love. In the long absence of loved ones how fondly do we call to mind what they said to us, and cherish the particulars of the interviews we had together! And how natural is it to prize the messages they send us! Thus works the love of believers towards Christ. They take pleasure in remembering past fellowship.

3. The way, too, in which Christ's approaches are received is a declaration of love. It makes their heart leap when tidings that He is near is brought to them, and when the sound of His footsteps is heard.

III. THE LORD'S COMMAND.

1. Its nature. Christ has a flock, of which He is the owner; for it was given to Him of the Father, and He bought it with His blood. He is its Shepherd; for it was committed to His care, and He accepted the charge of it. This flock He commends to the good offices of all that love Him. Private disciple though you be, you may help to feed Christ's flock. Though you cannot dispense the bread of life by public ministrations, .you may dispense it by private intercourse, prayers, and contributions.

2. Some important principles which it involves.(1) That love needs an exercise as well as am object. The first thing is to fix it on Christ. That being done, "Now," says the Lord, "thy love must not be idle. If thou lovest Me, go work for Me. Only thus can thy love continue and increase."(2) That love prepares us for the service of Christ. It is a motive inciting to that which is well-pleasing to Him, the doing of His will.(3) That love must extend to His people. "Feed My lambs — feed My sheep."(4) That love ought to show itself to the world. The feeding of Christ's lambs and sheep implies publicity. It is, therefore, a confession of Christ before men. Thereby we tell the world that we love Him, and prove that we are not ashamed of His cause.

(A. Gray.)

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.)

A lad named Hoopoo, a South Sea Islander, was sent to America to be trained, that he might be useful in the Mission. One day he was in a large company, and was asked many questions about his birthplace. The lad spoke wisely, but some of his sayings made a gentleman laugh. "I am a poor heathen boy," said Hoopoo; "it is not strange that my blunders in English should amuse you, but soon there will be a larger meeting than this, and if we should then be asked, 'Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?' I think I shall be able to say, 'Yes.' What will you say, sir?" The gentleman felt the force of the words, and found no rest till he also could say, "Yes"

(J. L. Nye.)

St. Peter's first answer was easy and light-hearted; it came only from the surface of his mind; it was little better than "Of course I love Thee." But Christ's close and penetrating way of putting the question a second time overawed the disciple, and brought an answer from much deeper down. The third time, Jesus sent the question like a sword down to the bottom of the soul, where it drew blood, and the answer was a groan of pain out of the depths. He puts the question to us thrice, because there are three storeys in our nature; the uppermost is feeling, the middle one is intellect, and the basement is will; Jesus opens the door of each, and asks, "Lowest thou Me?"

I. FEELING. This is the most superficial of the three; and here He first puts the question. Our feelings have had many objects. We cannot remember when we began to love some of those whom we hold dear. Other passions we remember distinctly the genesis of. Now, among the objects we have loved is Christ one? — the principal one? Has our love to Him formed one of the colours which can be distinctly traced in the pattern of the past? Has it a history, and is it a distinct part of our history?

II. INTELLECT. A man who has been wise and fortunate in marriage will say, "I loved you at first, because my fancy was taken with you, and there was a blaze of feeling. But now, besides that, my calm judgment approves my choice; the experience of many years has made me only the more satisfied with it." Happy the man who can say this and the woman who hears it! Do we love Christ with such love? Perhaps our religious life began with excitement and ecstasy. This is past: but every day we are more and more convinced that in choosing Christ we choose wisely; we have a hundred times more reason for loving Him than we had then.

III. WILL. The will is the part of our nature out of which resolutions and actions come, and on this specially wishes to have a hold. Love's real trial comes when it is called upon to endure and to sacrifice. No man knows how strong his own love to any one is till it has gone past the stage at which it is a delightful feeling, and the stage at which it is sensible of deriving advantages from its object, and has arrived at the stage when it has to give everything, bearing burdens, practising self-denials for the sake of the person it loves. Cowper's lines to Mary Unwin are a perfect example of such love. Have we a love to Christ which makes us slay besetting sins because He wills it, devise liberal things for His cause, confess Him fearlessly before men, and rejoice to suffer for His sake?

(J. Stalker, M. A.)

? —

1. The inquiry is not concerning his love to the kingdom or the people of God, but to the Son of God. It deals with a personal attachment to a personal Christ.

2. Our Saviour questioned Peter in plain set terms. There was no beating about the bush. As the physician feels his patient's pulse to judge his heart, so Jesus tested at once the pulse of Peter's soul.

3. This question was asked three times, as if to show that it is of the first, of the second, and of the third importance; as if it comprised all else. This nail was meant to be well fastened, for it is smitten on the head with blow after blow.

4. Jesus Himself asked the question, and He asked it until He grieved Peter. Had he not made his Master's heart bleed, and was it not fit that he should feel heart-wounds himself?

I. LOVE TO THE PERSON OF CHRIST MAY BE ABSENT FROM OUR BOSOMS. This inquiry is not rendered needless by —

1. Outward religiousness. Do we enter very heartily into all the public exercises of God's house? Yes, but there are hundreds of thousands who do that, and yet they do not love Christ! It will be vain to reverence the Sabbath if you forget the Lord of the Sabbath, vain to love the sanctuary and not the Great High Priest, vain to love the wedding-feast but not the Bridegroom.

2. Highest office. Peter was an apostle, and in some respects a foundation stone of the Church, and yet it was needful to say to him, "Lovest thou Me?" The name of Judas should sound the death knell of all presumptuous confidence in our official standing.

3. Enjoyment of the greatest Christian privileges. Peter was one of the most favoured apostles, who beheld Christ on the mount of transfiguration and in the garden of Gethsemane.

4. The greatest warmth of zeal. Peter was a redhot disciple. You are earnest in the Sunday school, or preach in the streets, or visit the poor, and are full of warmth in all things which concern the Redeemer's cause; but for all that the question must be put. For there is a zeal which is fed by regard to the opinions of others, and sustained by a wish to be thought earnest and useful; which is rather the warmth of nature than the holy fire of grace, and which makes a man a mere tinkling cymbal, because he does not love Jesus Christ.

5. The greatest self-denial. Peter could say, "Lord, we have left all and followed Thee."

6. The highest mental attainments. Peter went to college three years, with Christ for a tutor, and he learned a great deal; but after he had been through his course, his Master, before He sent him to his life-work, felt it needful to inquire, "Lovest thou Me?" It is, therefore, a healthy thing for the Lord to come into the study and close the book, and say to the student, "Sit still a while, and let Me ask thee, 'Lovest thou Me?'"

II. WE MUST LOVE THE PERSON OF CHRIST, OR ALL OUR PAST PROFESSIONS HAVE BEEN A LIE. It is not possible for that man to be a Christian who does not love Christ. Take the heart away, and life is impossible.

1. Your first true hope of heaven came to you, if it ever did come at all, by Jesus Christ. You heard the Gospel, but the Gospel apart from Christ was never good news to you; you read the Bible, but the Bible apart from a personal Christ was never anything more than a dead letter to you. The first gleam of comfort that ever entered my heart flashed from the wounds of the Redeemer.

2. Nor do we merely begin with Him, for every covenant blessing we have received has been connected with His Person — pardon, righteousness, adoption, &c.

3. Every ordinance of the Christian Church has either been a mockery, or else we have loved Christ in it. Baptism — what is it but the mere washing away of the filth of the flesh unless we were buried with Christ in baptism unto death? The Lord's Supper, what is it but a common meal unless Christ be there? And so it has been with every approach we have made towards God. Did you pray? You could not have done it except through Jesus the Mediator.

4. If you have made a profession of religion, how can it be a true and honest one unless your heart bums with attachment to the great Author of salvation.

5. You have great hopes, but what are you hoping for? Is not all your hope wrapped up in Him?

6. Since, then, everything that you have obtained comes to you direct from His pierced hand, it cannot be that you have received it unless you love Him. Now, when I put the question, recollect that upon your answer to it hangs this alternative — a hypocrite or a true man — "Lovest thou Me?"

III. WE MUST HAVE LOVE TO THE PERSON OF CHRIST, OR NOTHING IS RIGHT FOR THE FUTURE.

1. For a true pastor the first qualification is love to Christ. Jesus does not inquire about Peter's knowledge or gifts of utterance, but about his love. And what is true of a pastor is true of every useful worker for Christ.

2. If your heart is not true to Christ, you will not be able patiently to endure for His Name's sake. Before long, the time came for Peter to glorify God by death. Love makes the hero. When the Spirit of God inflames love He inspires courage.

3. If we have no love for Christ's Person our piety lacks the adhesive element, it fails in that which will help us to stick to the good old way to the end. Men often leave what they like, but never what they love.

4. Love is the great inspiriting force. In serving Christ you come across a difficulty far too great for judgment, for prudence, and unbelief weighs and calculates, but love laughs at the impossibility and accomplishes it for Jesus Christ.

5. Without love you are without the transforming force. Love to Christ is that which makes us like Him.

6. Without love to Christ we lack the perfecting element. We are to be with Him soon; but if we have not love to Jesus we shall not be where He is.

IV. IF WE DO LOVE HIM, WHAT THEN? Let us do something for Him directly, for He said, "Feed My sheep." He knew from His own heart that wherever there is love there is a desire for activity. What are you doing? Attending the means of grace and getting a good feed. Well, that is doing something for yourself. Many people in the world are very busy at feeding, but I do not know that eating a man's bread is any proof of love to him. A great many professing Christians give no proof of love to Christ, except that they enjoy sermons. But now, if you love Him as you say you do, prove it by doing good to others.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PECULIAR FELLING OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN TOWARDS CHRIST — he loves Him.

1. A true Christian is not a mere baptized man or woman, a person who only goes, as a matter of form, to a church on Sundays; he is one whose religion is in his heart and life, and its great peculiarity is love. Hear what St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 16:22; Ephesians 6:24). Hear what Christ says (John 8:42). Would you know the secret of this peculiar feeling (1 John 4:19)?

2. A true Christian loves Christ —(1) For all He has done for him.(2) For all that He is still doing.

3. This love to Christ is —(1) The inseparable companion of saving faith. A faith of devils, a mere intellectual faith, a man may have without love, but not that faith which saves.(2) The mainspring of work for Christ. There is little done for His cause from sense of duty. The heart must be interested before the hands will move. The nurse in a hospital may do her duty, but there is a vast difference between that nurse and a wife.(3) The point which we ought specially to dwell upon in teaching religion to children. Election, imputed righteousness, &c., are matters which only puzzle; but love to Jesus is within reach of their understanding (Matthew 21:16).(4) The common meeting point of believers of every branch of Christ's Church (Ephesians 6:24).(5) The distinguishing mark of all saved souls in heaven. Old differences will be merged in one common feeling (Revelation 1:5, 6).

II. THE PECULIAR MARKS BY WHICH LOVE TO CHRIST MAKES ITSELF KNOWN. If we love a person, we like —

1. To think about him. We do not need to be reminded of him. It is just so between the true Christian and Christ! Christ "dwells in his heart," and is thought of more or less every day (Ephesians 3:17).

2. To hear about him. We find a pleasure in listening to those who speak of him. So the true Christian likes those sermons best which are full of Christ.

3. To read about him. What intense pleasure a letter from an absent husband gives to a wife, or a letter from an absent son to his mother. So the true Christian delights to read the Scriptures, because they tell him about his beloved Saviour.

4. To please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions. In like manner the true Christian studies to please Christ by being holy both in body and spirit.

5. His friends. We are favourably inclined to them, even before we know them. And the true Christian regards all Christ's friends as his. He is more at home with them in a few minutes, than he is with many worldly people after an acquaintance of several years.

6. To maintain his interests and his reputation. We regard the person who treats him ill as if he had ill-treated us. And the true Christian regards with a godly jealousy all efforts to disparage his Master's Word, or name, or Church, or day.

7. To talk to him. We find no difficulty in discovering subjects of conversation, nor does the true Christian find any difficulty in speaking to his Saviour. Every day he has something to tell Him, and he is not happy unless he tells it.

8. To be always with him; and the heart of a true Christian longs for that blessed day when he will see his Master face to face and go out no more.Conclusion:

1. Look the question in the face and try to answer it for yourself. It is no answer to say —(1) That you believe the truth of Christianity. The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).(2) That you disapprove of a religion of feelings. There can be no true religion without some feeling towards Christ. If you do not love Christ, your soul is in great danger.

2. If you do not love Christ, let me tell you what is the reason. You have no sense of debt to Him. There is but one remedy for this state of things — self knowledge and the teaching of the Holy Ghost.(1) Perhaps you have never read your Bible at all, or only carelessly. Begin to read it, then, in earnest.(2) Perhaps you have never known anything of real, hearty, business-like prayer. Begin the habit, then, at once.

(Bp. Ryle.)

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 stingy 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.)

I. We gather from OUR LORD'S INQUIRY —

1. That He takes pleasure in the love of His people towards Him and in their avowal of it. And herein He discovers His human nature. We are all conscious that whenever we have real affection towards any object, we desire the same affection towards ourselves, and are gratified by any manifestation of it. Jonathan shared in this feeling. Now our Lord's heart is, in all sinless things, like ours. He found gratification there, not only in Peter's love, but in these reiterated assurances.

2. That Christ has now a special claim on our love. Previously to His final sufferings and death, He does not appear to have ever put this question. But when for their sakes He had gone to Calvary He felt and acted like one who had now earned a claim on a sinner's affection, and such a claim as even a sinner's heart could not resist. Place the cross in whatever light we may, there is no exaggerating its importance or its power. As the basis of love nothing even in heaven is like it.

3. That real love for Christ is of the very utmost importance to us. Love is nothing more than a feeling. Its importance arises from the place it holds in the mind, and the influence it exercises over every other feeling, thought, and movement. No wonder, therefore, that when Christ brings a sinner to His feet, the first thing He asks him for is his heart; one of the first things He takes is his love. Love for Him is not an ornament; it is religion itself, its foundation, its spring, its strength, its perfection, its glory.

4. That our love for Christ is sometimes questionable and ought to be questioned.

II. THE ANSWER WHICH PETER GAVE TO THE INQUIRY. From this we infer at once that it is a question which maybe answered. Thrice said Christ to Peter, "Lovest thou Me?" and thrice Peter answered with promptitude and firmness that he did love Him. How then, under similar circumstances, may we come to a similar answer? We love Christ —

1. When we mourn bitterly for our sins against Him. Nothing pains a feeling heart more than to offend causelessly a heart it loves. Forgiveness cannot wear our pain away, kindness cannot dissipate it; they sometimes rather aggravate than remove it.

2. When we are especially on our guard against a repetition of those sins wherewith we have dishonoured Him.

3. When no sin, no sorrow on account of sin, no state of mind whatsoever can keep us from His feet.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

Christ never unnecessarily injured the feelings of any one; yet when necessary He did not hesitate to inflict pain. Jesus did not flatter and call Peter a rock now — "Simon, son of Jonas."

I. THE INFERENCES FROM CHRIST'S QUESTION.

1. That Jesus, after the Resurrection, was desirous to be loved by man. Do not make the mistake that you must win His love; see that you love Him.

2. That Jesus wants an avowal of love. How the lover, although he has the love of his loved one, rejoices in the avowals of that love. Jonathan made David sware twice that he loved him. Christ did not ask this before the Crucifixion. But now He had given His life He had a right to expect the heart's deepest love.

3. That love is the important thing. Christ did not catechise Peter as to his faith.

II. THE INFERENCES FROM PETER'S ANSWER. Peter was conscious of his love. What are the proofs that we love Christ?

1. We have a deep feeling of bitterness when we have come short of love.

2. True love will not allow us to commit the same sin twice over.

3. True love brings the sinner back to Christ.

III. PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

1. There is no religion without the love of Christ, and no heaven. Intellect, wealth, positions, friends cannot make up for the lack of it. Paul holds a man accursed without it.

2. By loving Christ we place ourselves where He can do us the most good.

(C. J. Deems, D. D.)

There are times which reveal to us the mysterious identity of our ever-changing lives; when we read old letters, visit well-remembered scenes, grasp the hand of old friends, or indulge in the silent luxury of their presence. You know the subtle influence of such seasons; with what reality they recall the past. The coincidences of life are designed by God to reveal us to ourselves and to show what is God's guidance of our life. These verses record such a period in the life of Peter. The past was with him; what were its memories for Peter? Of eager haste and painful failure; of love for Christ so true and yet so powerless; of self-confidence and of unfaithfulness. With chastened, bumble spirit he must have sat and pondered; feeling that not in his devotedness to Christ, but in Christ's love to him, lay his hope that he might be faithful to his apostleship, if he should be reinstated in it. And to these, his thoughts, Christ at length gives expression: "Simon, son of Jonas," the name by which Christ had first called him, and which He had so often used in tender solemnity, "lovest thou Me more than these?"

I. PETER'S LOVE TO CHRIST.

1. There is a beautiful order in Christ's questions. There is a difference between the two Greek verbs translated "lovest." It is not a difference in the warmth, but in the character of affection. The one signifies the love based upon appreciation of another; the other simple personal attachment. The one might be represented if we said, "I am thy friend;" the other if we said, "Thou art my friend."(1) It is the former of these words which Christ here uses: "Simon, son of Jonas, esteemest thou Me more, art thou more My friend than thy fellow disciples?" This was just what Peter had professed, "Though all should be offended," &c. "I am ready to go with Thee, both in prison and to death; Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee."(2) You can now understand Peter's reply. Once he would have said, "I know that I am Thy friend;" he was sure he was to be trusted. But he has lost his self-confidence. He will not profess esteem for Jesus. He chooses the humbler, trustful word: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee."(3) Again Christ asks him, "If not more than these, yet art Thou My friend at all?" And still the same humble, clinging answer comes from Peter.(4) Now Christ takes Peter's own word; let it be as Peter would have it, the trusting affection of the disciple. "Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me?" Surely Jesus cannot doubt that. Christ must know that He is all in all to Peter. "Thou knowest that under all my boasting, all my mistakes, there was love for Thee, and that it remains." And this confession Christ accepts, and ever will accept.

2. Distinguish between the profession of love to Christ and the confession of it. In profession the person most prominent in our thoughts is "I who make it;" in confession, "He whose name I am confessing." It is not in what we are to Christ, but in what Christ is to us, that our rest and security lie.

3. Observe, too, the period of Peter's life when this confession is made. It is not his earliest confession; he has been brought to it through painful self-knowledge; it is the utterance of a tried maturity. To set young converts on an estimate of their feeling towards the Saviour, instead of encouraging them to trust in Him, is full of peril. Christian discipleship sometimes begins with love to Christ; and singularly blessed are they with whom it does. But in other ways souls are drawn to Christ; the weary go to Him for rest, the guilty for pardon, the helpless for succour. Such will say, "I trust in Christ," "I have found Christ," "I am following Christ;" but the words, perhaps, halt on their lips, "I love Christ." It is not for us to insist on their utterance. They are not for our ears, but for His. And He knows how, from the trusting, the obedient, and the earnest, to draw at length the full confession, "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

II. THE PROOF AND MANIFESTATION OF LOVE TO CHRIST.

1. In giving Peter the charge, "Feed My lambs; feed My sheep," Christ was guarding him against a danger to which he was at this moment liable; the danger of sinking down into an indulgence of sentiment. We feel in a self-assertive world, from the strife for mastery, the restlessness of ambition, how blessed to retire to self-abasement before the Lord; how sweetly then from lowly lips falls the confession, "Thou knowest that I love Thee." To cherish this life alone is very dangerous. Hence comes the pride that apes humility. Christ sends Peter from confessing, as He sent Mary from adoring Him, to do His work. It was in separating himself from the other disciples, in supposing himself better than they, that Peter displayed the self-confidence which he now so bitterly repented. He was not free from the temptation even in his penitence. It is possible to separate ourselves from others in our very consciousness of self-distrust. One of the saddest sights is that of men whose humblest words are a vaunting of themselves, whose very lowliness is sentimental and insincere.

2. A higher work is now committed to Peter than when Christ said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." The pastoral office is higher than that of preaching the gospel of the kingdom; to watch over the flock is higher than to add to its numbers.

3. Here, too, would Peter have an opportunity for the constant exercise of lowliness. He would grow meek and gentle as he fed the lambs and shepherded the sheep; he would be humbled by every lesson he learnt of men's impatience and folly and self-deception. Sympathy is the way to self-knowledge; our own penitence deepens as we know a brother's sins.

4. They would serve, too, to deepen his love of Jesus; every brother's fall would remind him of his own restoration. There is nothing which so deepens our lore to Christ as the larger knowledge of His grace which we gain as we see souls saved by Him.

5. In this work which Christ assigns to Peter, Peter may see the meaning of the struggle of contrition through which he is made to pass. He will be better able to bear with the flock because he knows himself. The heart broken with penitence will scarcely harden itself against a sinful brother.

III. THE CROWN AND PERFECTING OF LOVE TO CHRIST IS THAT FULL SELF-SURRENDER BY WHICH WE SHALL GLORIFY GOD (ver. 18).

1. When he was young he girded himself and walked whither he would. How often he wandered, how far astray his hasty will led him! But when he could no longer go whither he would, when another girded him and carried him whither he would not, he accepted the appointment and the surrender of himself was complete. In one way or other, this privilege that we glorify God is given to every one who loves Jesus. Not all need the struggle and the martyrdom. There are meek souls whose whole life is sacrifice, whose will is ever submissive. Others require a sharp discipline. Whatever is needed will be given. And death seems appointed as the completion of all; the chequered, troubled life is vindicated as a Christian life by the death that glorifies God.

2. "And when He had spoken this He saith unto him, Follow Me." It was the first call again repeated. When Peter had first heard it he thought that to obey it would lead him near a throne; now he knows it will conduct him to a cross. Yet he draws not back; for meanwhile he has been with Jesus, and love of Him now fills his soul. What dreams possess us of the honour, and triumphs of the Christian life when first we rank ourselves as disciples of Christ! Rarely indeed are these hopes fulfilled; we grow wiser with sad self-sacrifice as we become holier men. The boundless prospect narrows before us; we are well content "to fill a little sphere, so He be glorified."

(A. Mackennal, D . D.)

You remember the tale of Androcles and the lion. The man was condemned to be torn to pieces by beasts; but a lion, to which he was cast, instead of devouring him, licked his feet, because at some former time Androcles had extracted a thorn from the grateful creature's foot. We have heard of an eagle that so loved a boy with whom he had played that, when the child was sick, the eagle sickened to; and when the child slept, this wild, strange bird of the air would sleep, but only then; and when the child awoke, the eagle awoke. When the child died, the bird died too. You remember that there is a picture in which Napoleon is represented as riding over the battle-field, and he stops his horse, as he sees a slain man with his favourite dog lying upon his bosom doing what he can to defend his poor dead master. Even the great man-slayer paused at such a sight. There is gratitude among the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air. And, surely, if we receive favours from God, and do not feel love to Him in return, we are worse than brute beasts.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When the heathen killed their sacrifices in order to prophesy future events from the entrails, the worst augury they ever got was when the priest, after searching into the victim, could not find a heart; or if that heart was small and shrivelled. The soothsayers always declared that this omen was the sure sign of calamity. All the signs were evil if the heart of the offering was absent or deficient. It is so in very deed with religion and with each religious person. He that searches us searches principally our hearts.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE HISTORY OF THE QUESTION.

1. The writer, in continuing his account of what was said and done, goes on to say: "Now, when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith," &c. Here we have a most interesting note of time. It was delicately characteristic of Jesus to see that all were strengthened and quieted before the questioning. No one who had not been present would have shown the sense of mingled homeliness and solemnity which this verse shows. When we read, "When Jesus sat thus on the well," we say these two lines are by the same writer.

2. This question is a question to a believer. Faith goes before love. It is impossible to love one whom you do not even trust. Perhaps Christians have put you wrong by their unscientific way of telling you that all you have to do is "to give your hearts to Christ"; but you have no heart to give to Him, until by faith you receive the heart He gives to you. Believing is receiving; and when the love of Christ is received, the recipient loves Him back again.

3. This question reminds us that the great test of faith is love. "Faith worketh by love." Sometimes faith and love are practically so much alike that we can hardly distinguish them. Talk to that true teacher of theology, a Christian child, and, while perhaps she will not say a word about faith, she will be sure to tell you that she "loves Jesus." "Wrong!" says a hard old doctrinist, "we are justified by faith." "Right!" say we; "for in the consciousness of that little heart love and faith are one." A man may be true to Christ, yet if Christ were to say, "Understandest thou Me?" or "Followest thou Me?" or, "Confessest thou Me?" he could not always establish the fact of his discipleship. There is, however, no Christian heart but quivers to the question, "Lovest thou Me?" We set our seal to Wesley's words, "We may die content without the knowledge of many truths, but if we die without love, would the knowledge of many truths avail us? Just as much as it would the devil. I will not quarrel with you about your opinions... only see that you love the Lord Jesus Christ."

4. This question was asked in the spirit of reproof. There was reproof —(1) In the very appellative, "Simon, son of Jonas," and the sound of it must have struck upon him like a bolt of ice, making his burning soul suddenly freeze. On the day of his introduction to Christ, it was predicted that he should be called "Peter" — that is, a stone. This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of his memorable confession. It is written of a certain caliph, that he used to give each of his principal officers an honourable surname suited to his qualities; and that, when he wished to show dissatisfaction, he used to drop it, calling him by his original name, which caused great alarm. This helps us to enter into the meaning of the Simon, son of Jonas, here. The startled disciple might have thought that this was as much as to say, "Thou hast nothing in thee answering to the name 'Rock'; a rock does not run away, and does not ebb and flow; thou art not worthy of thy new name; until thou art cleared in this court, give it up."(2) In the reference to the other disciples — "More than these." But how did they prove their love? By language? No; for they were dumb. By obedience? No; for when the Master said, "Bring of the fish that ye have caught," they stood stock still, gazing. By work? No; they could not even haul the net up the strand; Simon did it. While a thought of satisfaction in the comparison of himself with them might have shot across his mind, the question sternly broke in upon it, "Lovest thou Me more than these?"(3) In the plain allusion to his boastful speech, "If all shall be offended," &c. "Now, Simon, what do you say?"

5. In reference to his most recent action. On the night before the Crucifixion, Jesus had said, "Simon, Satan asked to have you... when once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren." Had he done so? Not if we have correctly interpreted the words, "I go a fishing; we also go with thee." He did wrong, and by his super-abundant vitality and eager life drew the others along with him; and this was not to establish his brethren. It was "a threefold hammer-stroke," and had reference to his threefold sin of denial.

6. Think of the question in connection with the greatness of the questioner. Love to God is set forth in the "first and greatest commandment." Christ claims the very same, "He that loveth father and mother more than Me," &c. What John thought of Christ's greatness appears from the words at the opening of his Gospel, which pulse all through the succeeding narrative; the writer does not once forget this, nor must the reader, any more than the singer must forget his key-note, or the builder that which he builds upon.

7. Think of the question in connection with Christ's love to the disciple to whom He puts it. His love is great, because He Himself is great. As the ocean holds more water than the tiny lakelet, has more force, carries more weight, and can be wrought up into a grander storm, so does the heart of God hold more than the heart of man.

8. Notice the personality of the question. He deals with us one by one lovingly, each soul with a distinct love; asking each soul for a distinct response; to each speaks personally as when He said, "Adam, where art thou?" "Abraham, Abraham!" "Samuel, Samuel!" "Martha, Martha!" "Saul, Saul!" "Simon, son of Jonas." English names are on His lips as well as Jewish names; answer to your name — it is spoken now — silently to the ear, audibly to the soul — "Lovest thou Me?"

II. THE HISTORY OF THE ANSWER.

1. It was an answer given after deep searchings of heart.(1) The Searcher of hearts had so ordered the process of questioning as to compel this. The first sentence of it slashed right through the conscience just where it had been last wounded, and where it was still on fire. "Lovest thou Me more than these?" What does he answer? does he simply say, "Yes I do"? No! for the word for love which Christ employs is beyond him. Does he say no? No! Does he take up the challenge of comparison? No! never again. He is now done for ever with heroics, comparisons, consequential airs. Does he say out from black despondency, "I have been a self-deceiver, and what I thought was love was not love"? No! Was he silent? No! speak he must. He therefore looks up, and, with tumultuous throbs, whispers, "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest Thou art dear to me."(2) The searching eye is still upon him; still using the same word for love which Simon had humbly put aside for a weaker word, and giving this word greater emphasis, the Judge repeats the question. Six months before, Simon would have been ready to say, "Lord, dost Thou doubt me? Love Thee? Only try me! See if I will not gladly die for Thee!" But now, not daring to own such a lofty love as Christ's word indicates, he still says, "Thou art dear to me."(3) Then the King of Grace comes down to him, accepts the humble word that Simon had chosen, and asks, "Am I dear to thee?" In the lightning of that instant, he looked round for something to which he should make his appeal in proof of the sincerity with which he could say this; and to what could he make it? Poor man! he thought just then, that if he looked to himself for a proof of his love, he could find little better than lies, and oaths, and treachery. With tears in his heart, in his tones, if not in his eyes, he burst out, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that Thou art dear to me!" Could any of us settle this question by an appeal to ourselves? Have we been satisfactory disciples? For all that, many a man, who is forced to answer "No," may add, "Jesus, I am sure that I love Thee. Oh, see Thyself if I do not!" How does your child prove his love to you? Does he not sometimes give you trouble? Does his face never redden with sullen temper or with passionate flash? And are not these signals contradictory of love? They may seem so, yet when the proud little heart seems to be full of rebellion, the young rebel wishes you could but see into it. He is quite unable to prove it from facts, but he knows that he loves you, and you know it. Sometimes we have no proofs to give in verification of our love to God. The love is in our heart, but it is possible to be known, not by its doings, but by itself; and the love itself only God can see.

2. The question had to be answered, not verbally alone, but practically. Where there is love, there will be the ministry of love. This ministry is work for souls before conversion and after it. The first is described under a metaphor taken from the vocation of a fisherman, the other from that of a shepherd. When souls are drawn out from the sea of spiritual death, and "captured for their life," the metaphor of "fishing" breaks down: and the metaphor of "shepherding" is substituted.

3. Such an answer as that of Peter may include in its consequences much that will go against natural inclination (ver. 18). This oracle darkly told of coming events that would strike at all his natural loves and likings. He liked the free, impetuous joy of living. He was to be "bound." He liked to take the lead. He was to "be carried," he liked to have his own will; he was to be carried "whither he would not." He liked the glory of heroism: he was to die on a cross. He liked rapidity of movement: he was to plod on to old age without the promise of a brilliant career. Before a man's life can fully answer the question, "Lovest thou Me?" he must be ready to give up his own choice as to the way of showing it, and passively accept or actively obey the will of God alone.

4. A disciple is to make the answer to this question the one great business of his life (vers. 20, 21). A Christian may prosecute endless questions into the mysteries around him; and while he does so in season, with due regard to proportion and perspective, taking care to subordinate each to its own place in relation to the one great question. Christ will not say of any such thing, "What is that to thee?" There was, however, a reason why His rejoinder to this question should have in it something of the nature of a reprimand. Some sin, or dangerous infirmity, must have been waking up. Jesus, therefore, instead of answering him, said, "What is that to thee?" and repeated His charge, "Follow thou Me." placing emphasis on the word thou. "Mind your own business; put all your soul into it; this is as much as you can do." As it was with Peter then, so it may be with you now. You may be at a crisis and in a condition making it perilous to have your attention divided by, the most fascinating subject that lies outside the soul's great business; and Christ may be saying, with reference to what is most exciting your speculative interest, "What is that to thee? Follow thou Me."

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

At first sight this appears a singular question to Peter. You would expect expostulation and reproof. But Jesus had no need to ask Peter whether he had repented. He had "turned and looked upon Peter;" and Peter's heart broke. He had seen the former affection of Peter to his Master return with a full tide. He who knew all things knew that Peter loved Him; and gave Peter an opportunity of thrice declaring it in the presence of his fellow-disciples. When our Lord asks a disciple three times whether he loves Him, he teaches us that to love Christ is essential to our discipleship. It is "the first and great commandment," without it we are but as "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."

I. THE REASONS ON WHICH OUR OBLIGATION TO LOVE CHRIST RESTS.

1. The supreme excellency of the object. We are under a kind of natural obligation to love that which is excellent. We are certainly under a moral one. In Christ all good meets; it exists in absolute perfection, and can have no addition.(1) Do the condescensions of superior wisdom attract us? In him we see the wisdom of God, speaking to man, in words clear as the light of the intelligence from which they proceeded.(2) Are we affected by disinterested benevolence? Behold His life of labour, given freely without an exacted return.(3) Does humility, connected with great virtues and great actions, command the homage of the heart? It was said of Him, "He shall not strive nor cry," &c. He often said, "See thou tell no man."(4) Is there a charm in the noble passion of patriotism? For His country our Lord lived. His heart clings to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel."(5) Does friendship move us? Think of the family of Bethany; the disciple whom Jesus loved; and his kind regards for the whole body of his disciples.(6) All moral virtues were in Him. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled." And all the stronger virtues of religion; such as meekness, patience, resignation, devotion.

2. The generous interposition of our Lord in the great work of our redemption (Romans 5:7, 8; 1 John 4:10).

3. The benefits which we are constantly receiving from His hands. Do we think of life? We owe it to His intercession. Of ordinary mercies? They are the fruits of His redemption; for we deserve nothing. Of the ordinances? They are visitations of His grace. Do we regard the future as well as the present? We expect His kingdom. Do we anticipate death? We have the victory by Him. Judgment? We have justification through His blood. Do we think of heaven? We view Him as the grand source of light, love, and joy. Should constant benefits excite love? Then surely our love ought to be constant. Should benefits of the highest kind excite the highest love? Then our love ought to be supreme. And are they never to cease? Then ought our love to be eternal.

II. THE GREAT OFFICE OF THIS GRACE IN EXPERIMENTAL AND PRACTICAL RELIGION.

1. It is this which gives the true character to evangelical obedience. None hut this is acceptable and rewardable. Man is in three states — unawakened, penitent, believing. In the first he can have no love to Christ, because he loves the world. In the second he has no love, because he has the "fear which hath torment." In the third, only, he loves, because this "love is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him." From this principle obedience derives its character. In unawakened man some acts of obedience may be apparent; but these may spring from natural temperament, from a respect to man's opinion, or even from Pharisaism. In the penitent there is the obedience of the slave: in the believer obedience is filial; his love is the "fulfilling of the law; and God graciously accepts what is done for His name's sake.

2. It is the great instrument of high and holy attainments. It produces trust, as that reciprocally produces love; it produces prayer, and so receives blessings from God; it produces the love of every thing that is like Christ. Holiness is the element of love; and it bears the soul into it.

3. It is the grand antagonist-principle of the love of the world (1 John 2:15). They cannot co-exist.

4. It is the root and nutriment of charity to man (1 Corinthians 13.).

5. It removes terrors from futurity. Futurity discloses the world where Jesus is. That is the heaven of heavens to a Christian.

(R. Watson.)

Love to Christ is the commanding and crowning grace of a Christian. As all life, movement, force in man depend on the action of the central organ, the heart, so all graces, each one having its own function and power, have their spring and strength from the grace of love. Express it another way: All life, and growth, and power, and bloom in nature depend on the vital air. A plant grows indeed from its root; it lives by the air; it breathes and blossoms into beauty by the air. The plant of faith grows, the flower of faith blooms, the fruit of faith ripens in the genial atmosphere of love. Yes, love is the heavenly air in which all the graces of the Christian character "live and move and have their being." Why love Christ? For what He is, and for what He has done, including under this last point the continuation of His work of love, its triumph in His atoning death being carried forward into the present, and to be consummated in the future. How should we love Christ? "Lovest thou Me?"

1. Evidently our love to Christ is personal.

2. Love to Christ should be positive. Simon Peter answered, "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee."

3. For it will be practical. The Christian life springs at the heart, but it works, it must work, outwards. This, a necessity of its nature. If the blood be not pulsing even to the fingertips, I am dead or dying. We see the practical effect of such loves, as the love of gold, of fame, of pleasure. The Christian's love to Christ will prove itself.

(D. S. Brunton.)

And why should Christ ask that question? Did not He know whether Simon loved Him or not? Certainly He did, for He knew all things. Then what could be His object in thus catechising Peter? Evidently, He wished to teach him a lesson of some kind or other. He wished to remind him of his former denial, and admonish him never to do the like again. Mark the reply. Peter has learned his weakness by that ignominious fall which he had, and dares not say he loves Jesus more than others; he is not willing to repeat his former assertion, "I will lay down my life for Thy sake;" he can only say, "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." The question being put the second time seems to have this import — "Are you sure, Simon, son of Jonas, that you love Me; for, you remember, you once professed that attachment, and then belied your words." What bitter recollections of his former treachery must have rushed at that moment over Peter's mind! No wonder Peter was grieved and humbled.

I. Concerning THE NATURE OF THE BELIEVER'S LOVE TO CHRIST.

1. In the first place, it is of Divine origin. It is a truth which the Christian ought never to forget, that he is indebted to God for everything good that he possesses: for every emotion of penitence, for every ray of hope, for every exercise of faith, for every heavenly aspiration, for every throb of love. Man made man a sinner, but man never made man a saint. That belongs to God. I know there are some who maintain that natural man is not so bad after all. Some say that regeneration is not a new creation, but only the development of an old, inward germ, which was left after the fall. That may be the teaching of pride and reason, but it is not that of Scripture or of human experience. If we had no other argument to prove that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, that is sufficient — that man, in his natural state, hates Christ, and yet is brought sometimes to love Him. The power that can produce such a change must be Divine.

2. But, again, the believer's love to Christ is unquenchable; the same power which creates it, sustains it in existence, just as those same forces in nature, warmth, and sunlight, and gentle showers, which cause the seed to burst, also nourish it, and carry it forward from bursting to budding, from budding to blossoming, and from that to the yielding of the golden fruit. I do not say the believer's love is never feeble; in some instances, alas! it is never anything more. I do not say it is always in healthful exercise. Even Peter may deny his Lord. I do not say that it never grows dim, for, just as the ancient crown of Scotland once lay so long under ground that it lost its lustre, so all religious graces, by too much contact with sin and worldliness, lose their brightness. Are you mourning, because your love is faint? It is right for you to mourn, but not to despond, for, if the plant be genuine, it will not die, however much it may droop.

3. The Christian's love for Christ, once more, is superlative. He loves Jesus more than anything else; he loves Him more than he loves all things else. What, then, shall we say of that man who manifestly loves the things of the world more than Christ? Do you call such a man a Christian? Why, he lacks the grandest element of Christianity, which is that love for Jesus which absorbs and controls every other love. Why, Brutus loved justice so much, that he would not spare his own son when he had forfeited his life. The Spartan mother loved bravery so much, that she said to her boys, as they went out to the wars, "Bring back your shields, or be brought upon them;" and shall the believer be unwilling to make a sacrifice for Christ, equally great? A man must love Him, so as to be willing to do that for Him which others can do from a worldly motive, before he can be a true Christian.

II. In the second place, let us notice SOME OF THE REASONS WHY THE BELIEVER LOVES CHRIST.

1. One good reason, I think, is because Christ loves him. Concerning His affection for His people, there can be no mistake; they are so dear to Him, so much a part of Him, that they are said to be the branches of which He is the vine.

2. Again, the Christian loves Christ by reason of His lovely character. The patriarchs and prophets were men of great virtues, but none of them could be said to be perfect. All suns have their spots, except that Sun of Righteousness; we shall find no blemish there. Have you never noticed how Scripture labours to set forth the beauties of Christ's character; the fairest objects in nature are employed to symbolize it. There is the rose; other flowers are beautiful, but, after all, she is the queen. Could the most cunning workman contrive anything half so beautiful? Why, no artist can paint it, in all its fairness. What tender leaves! What exquisite colour! What variety of tint! What a wealth of fragrance! How it fills the air with perfumes, and fairly charms the senses! Christ is called the Rose of Sharon. Oh, what humility was His. This was His most prominent trait. He never did anything for display; He was not fond of shows. Man must have his jewels, and his glitter, and his trinkets, his gilded equipages, and triumphal processions. Not so with Christ; His palace was a cottage; His royal bed was a manger, His state carriage was an ass's colt; His body-guard were poor fishermen. If man had been going to make a world, he would have had all the beauties visible to the naked eye. Not so with God. He has concealed much more than He has brought to light. The dew-drop perched upon the morning flower is a fine little gem, but what has it concealed from the naked eye? Put it under the microscope and see. In that single drop, a thousand million living creatures swarm, each one of them as much the object of God's regard as the largest world that rolls in space. The human frame is wonderful to look at; dissect it, and you find such beauty and harmony in its mechanism, such skill and contrivance, as astonish the philosopher as well as the savage. Let a sunbeam be shot into a dark room, and if, just then, the eyes of a blind man could be opened, the sight of that golden ray of light would fill him with joy. "What a beautiful thing!" he would exclaim. A beautiful thing! So it is; but what do you suppose God has concealed in that sunbeam? Pass it through a prism, and lo! what revelations! Why, you get the seven colours of the rainbow! And thus is it generally in nature: the dross is on the surface; if there are any gems, humility conceals them. In the character of Christ how much is manifest, and yet how much more must be concealed! If His love, His humility, His meekness, His patience, His forbearance, His consistency were such as could call forth the admiration even of His enemies, how much must there be behind these to confirm and strengthen the affection of His friends! And yet we are told the time is coming when we shall see Him as He is. All the seraph tongues in heaven could not describe it, and eternity will not give us half time enough in which to admire and adore it.

3. The last reason why we should love Christ, is because of His sufferings and death, and the blessings procured thereby. And now, as the result of His mediatorial work, what do we have We, who believe, have justification, for one thing; and what does that mean? It means that the sinner is free from the curse of the law. And we have adoption, for another thing; and what does that mean? It means that we can cry, Abba, Father! and feel that God is our Father, and that we are HIS children. We have sanctification, for another thing; and what does that mean? It means that we are free from that which blasted Eden and the world, which ruined man and unchained the forked lightnings of Divine justice, which brought death into the world and every pang of woe. It means that we are dying to sin, and living unto righteousness. Such are some of the blessings procured by Christ for His people. It is not strange, then, that they love Him; but oh, sinner, it is the strangest thing in the world that you do not ]eve Him too.

III. Finally, THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS PRINCIPLE OF LOVE.

1. It will show itself, in the first place, by communion with Christ.

2. Love to Christ will manifest itself again, in a desire to be like Him. "O that I were a Wellington, or a Bonaparte!" says the warrior. "O that I were a Praxiteles!" says the sculptor. "O that I were an Angelo, or a Correggio!" says the painter. "O that I were a Homer, or a Milton!" says the poet. But what says the Christian? "O that I could be very unlike myself, and very much like Christ! O that I could put off this old man, and put on the Lord Jesus!"

3. Love to Christ will show itself in a disposition to serve Him.

4. Let me, then, say, in conclusion, that love to Christ will manifest itself in a willingness to suffer for Him.

(H. D. Northrop.)

Congregational Remembrancer.
I. ITS NATURE. It must be —

1. Sincere, in opposition to that which is hypocritical, like Joab's or Judas's. In many instances, where love to Christ is not feigned it may be only professional. There may be a respect for the religion of Christ where there is no love to its Divine Author.

2. Habitual, in opposition to occasional.

3. Supreme, in opposition to subordinate, and which may be lawfully exercised to the creature. Jesus is to be loved without a rival. "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me" (1 Corinthians 16:22).

II. THE CLAIMS WHICH CHRIST HAS UPON IT. Consider —

1. The infinite dignity of His Person. He is the "chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely."

2. The work He has accomplished, and the sufferings He has endured, on the behalf of sinners.

3. The excellency and importance of the blessings which He has purchased for us.

4. The manner in which the Saviour employs His recovered life. He now pleads for those for whom He once suffered. In answer to His prevailing intercession, spiritual life is communicated unto and maintained in the souls of men.

III. HOW THIS LOVE SHOULD BE EXHIBITED. Show your love to Christ —

1. By an entire surrender of yourselves, and all you have, into His hands.

2. By a public profession of His name and devout attendance on His ordinances.

3. By fervent and practical love to His people (1 John 2:14-19).

4. By a patient endurance of opposition for His sake (1 Peter 2:19, 20).

5. By unwearied endeavours to advance His cause.

(Congregational Remembrancer.)

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. Reasonable.(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.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. LOVEST. The question cleaves down to the very core of Peter's being. He does not ask after his speculative faith, his conscience, his profession: but, Is thy heart Mine? Is My kingdom enthroned in the soul as its central, governing power? Christ puts the same pointed, radical, searching question to every disciple. Nothing short of the supremacy of the heart will satisfy Him. He has loved us with an infinite love even unto death, and He demands our heart's best affections in return. The sum and essence of Christianity is love.

II. THOU. Not John, or Matthew, or the disciples collectively; but thou, Peter. Jesus' eye fastens on him, and again and again, and yet again He presses the question. How the words searched and tested add grieved the disciple! There was no escape for him. It was as if he stood before the burning throne of judgment. So will it be with every disciple. Religion is pre-eminently a personal thing. The faith and virtue of others will save no man. Each for himself must heed, believe, obey, love our Lord Jesus Christ, or die in his sins. "Thou!" How the eye, and voice, and penetrating words of Jesus on the judgment throne will search and test every soul of us!

III. ME. Not My doctrines, only, but My Person, My character — Me, the Divine Son of God, the crucified and risen Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life of the world. A speculative faith, orthodoxy, the sacraments and ordinances, and church relations will not save Simon Peter or any other sinner; nothing but faith in and supreme love to a personal Saviour, such as is revealed and proffered to us in the gospel.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

I. A CHRISTIAN'S LOVE TO CHRIST OUGHT TO BE UNRIVALLED IN CREATION.

1. For closeness, because there is betwixt these twain such an intimacy that the one is everything to the other.

2. For tenderness, because this is not an equal love, but the love of the little for the Great, of the enemy disarmed and won over through the sacrifice of his wronged and offended Lord.

3. For strength. If there is strength in men at all, and love is, as people say, the strongest thing in men's hearts, then surely this must be the strongest of known loves. For it is the deepest. We love others with a part only, but Christ with the whole heart, &c. We are attached to others only surface-wise; but it is the very inner being which is given to Him in love.

II. BEING CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CHRISTIAN, THIS LOVE FORMS THE MOST DELICATE TEST OF EACH PERSON'S RELATION TO JESUS.

1. Born with the birth of the new creature, it is one of the earliest graces to come to strength. Just as in a little child, long before trust becomes intelligent, or will is disciplined into obedience, or experience has taught patience or self-control, there rushes up the first-born virtue, even love for her who bare and nurseth it: so in very young Christians, we see the flush of first love kindle their early experience. Apply any other test. Their knowledge is rudimentary, their faith untried, their works not yet reduced to orderly holiness, their passions far from subdued. By any other test they seem to fail; but try them with our wise Lord's own question, and you will see how the eye kindles and the voice deepens with the answer, "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee!"

2. Throughout a Christian's life this continues to be the most sensitive test. In all, holiness is gradual; in many, slow; in some, fitful, broken by falls and declensions. But this test, if it could be fairly applied, never would fail. No unconverted man can answer that to satisfaction; there is no converted man who cannot. Hence Paul girdles the Church of God with: "Grace be with them all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." That shuts none out who should be in. Again, he fences off the Church with: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema." That leaves none in who should be out.

III. A TEST SO PERFECT IS TO BE USED THE MORE DELICATELY IN PROPORTION TO THE DIFFICULTY OF USING IT AT ALL.

1. Outward conduct is tolerably patent to the eye of every outside observer; but this question is to be asked only by the Lord Himself, and only answered before his own truth-compelling presence. We must take care not to judge of ourselves in excited moments, or to depend on the satisfaction with which we turn to religious thoughts when the heart is sad. We must be scrupulously honest, and judge ourselves in solemn hours, when our sins are in our memory, and we feel God's eye to be on us.

2. Even under such cautions one ought not to institute this examination often. Love is a shy thing, which thrives best when no one thinks about it. It grows up of its own sweet will. It never bears rough handling, and sometimes will bear none at all. Besides, the love that must be questioned cannot be very strong. No man could preserve a deep attachment for any friend who should be for ever taking his heart to pieces and curiously asking if he loved him. When Christ's Spouse should have come to her perfect state of assured affection, she will hear no more the searching question.

3. Meanwhile, we are both feeble and faithless lovers. We do many unlovely and unloving things to grieve and wrong Him whom we call our Highest, Dearest, Best. It was after three denials that Jesus asked His first apostle three times over, "Lovest thou Me?" Each denial had cast fresh doubt on his oft-repeated protestation of peculiar and invincible affection. The suspected one had to be probed, and deeply, and often, for assurance sake, after such foul wrong done.

IV. FOR THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, WE ARE SENT, EACH OF US, IN UPON HIMSELF.

1. It is true that, practically, this love works as the motive-power in Christian holiness; that deeds are to be the last test by which our love, like our faith, is to be tested. But our Lord questioned a disciple who had nothing to show but lies, and oaths, and treachery. It is possible, therefore, to know love, not by its doings, but by itself. Put a mother where she shall neither see her infant nor be able to do for it one office of motherly duty, will it be so hard for her to know she loves? Will not the power of her affection betray itself all the more by yearnings to be with her child? Bring her back her babe, and, after the first gush of endearment has spent itself, ask her as she looks down on its sleeping face in the blessed calm of absolute content, ask her if she loves! I know of loved ones who shall never more be seen on earth, whom wide seas have severed; yet love keeps its hold on the long-lost, unforgotten image, and feeds inwardly on itself, and cannot die.

2. Now, why should not a Christian man be as sure that he loves the Lord Jesus? Our feeling towards Him is quite as personal as to any other friend. We never saw Him, and shall not, perhaps, for a few years to come. But what of that? Some of our brothers have seen Him, and their accounts set Him before us in a lively way. We know what He has been and done for us. Besides, no Christian is without experience of Him.

V. OUGHT ONE NOT TO SHRINK FROM SO BOLD A DECLARATION?

1. There are people, and these not the worst, who are too conscious of the weakness of their love and of their falls to allow even within themselves that they love Christ at all. But suppose a man is conscious, to do himself justice, of still really loving Him, whom he grieves to have denied, and to whose blood he looks for pardon; is he not to say so? Must one stifle the heart's cry of affection, and do violence to one's own feelings, and deny with the lips what the soul affirms? Yet before we can get the length of saying that truly, there is one thing to be observed, Repentance must have wrought its perfect work. Peter wept bitterly on the night of the denial. Through penitence is love purged. Spare not the sorrow, therefore.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Among men who are beloved? Among warriors? Is it Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne? Among sages? Aristotle or Plato? Name me one, a single man who has died and left love upon his tomb! Mohammed is venerated by Mussulmans, he is not loved. One man alone has gathered from all ages a love that never fails. Jesus is the sovereign Lord of hearts as He is of minds.

(Lacordaire.)

A Karen woman offered herself for baptism. After the usual examination, I inquired whether she could give up her ornaments for Christ. It was an unexpected blow. I explained the spirit of the gospel; I appealed to her own consciousness of vanity; I read to her the apostle's prohibition (1 Timothy 2.9). She looked again and again to her handsome necklace; and then, with an air of modest decision that would adorn beyond all ornaments any Christian in the land, she took it off, saying, "I love Christ more than this."

(D. Judson, D. D.)

Peter gave the best answer when he said, "Thou knowest," &c. Mere professions of love and devotion amount to but little at any time. Peter had already overdone the business of professing his unfailing affection for Jesus. Yet he was sure that, in spite of his failure under peculiar trial, he was known of Jesus as at heart a loving disciple of Jesus; so he put himself back, as it were, into the care of Jesus, appealing to Jesus to recognize the love which was underneath all his surface-swaying of conduct. A loving heart is always its own best witness. It will speak as no words can speak in its own defence, when doubted. And when a loving heart is pained at being called in question because of some seeming failure, it cannot do better than to trust itself to the consciousness of the one toward it outreaches in love. If, indeed, every human friend should fail to recognize the love of another's loving heart, Jesus never so fails. The Lord knoweth them that are His — whatever be their shortcomings.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

When Dr. Waddell was preaching at Portsmouth, Va., a ship came into port of which the master and two of the men were Christians. Learning that the blind preacher was to conduct a service that night, they made their way to the place. The discourse was on these words of Christ to Peter. Towards the close the preacher appealed to the audience repeatedly, "Who of you can say, 'Lord, Thou knowest all things,'" &c. The deepest silence prevailed; but the heart of one of the sailors was full; he could not restrain himself, and bursting out he exclaimed in thrilling tones, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee." The congregation was melted to tears.

(Dr. Thompson.)

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 —

I. IS A SUPREME AFFECTION DIRECTED TO CHRIST.

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.)

Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep.
This was a sort of ordination of Peter to the pastorate. Note, then —

I. THE EXAMINATION.

1. Christ does not admit any without examination, and this should encourage us to examine ourselves.

2. The examination touched the heart of the man and the very heart of religion, for if love be absent all is vain.

3. The examination dealt not with mental or spiritual qualifications, important as they were, but only that which is the supreme endow-merit of the pastor. It was necessary, because —(1) Love keeps us in Christ's company, and so we work under His immediate supervision.(2) Love to Christ kindles love for souls, and love gains almost absolute control over them.(3) Love enables us to bear with the sheep's infirmities without discouragement. What is it that sustains the mother in her weary watchings?(4) Feeding the sheep is a proof of love. Peter would have liked a more brilliant proof, and so should we; but this is the real test.(5) Pastoral work is the craving of love. Loving Christ we want to do something for Him.(6) It is also the stimulus of love. The more we do at it the more we are loved by Christ and man.(7) It is a sphere of communion. If we go among Christ's sheep we shall be with Him.

II. THE PERSON WHO WAS EXAMINED.

1. Christ examined Peter because he wanted re-ordination. Had He not done so doubt would have been cast on his apostleship in after years. What blindness has seized the Church of Rome, which thinks that Christ spoke to Peter because he was the greatest, whereas it is plain that he was the least. The others had not denied Him and therefore were not reordained.

2. Christ took Peter off what might have grown into morbid sorrow. "Peter, My dear fellow, I know you are sincerely penitent; do not fret about it, but go and feed My sheep."

3. Then was not Peter in danger of getting too big? In the case of some men an early breakdown was the making of them. They began from that time self loathing, and the Master used them.

4. This feeding sheep would benefit Peter. You did not know what a fool you were till you had to deal with fools; how quick tempered till you deal with the quick tempered. It was by feeding Christ's flock that the Peter of the judgment hall became the Peter of the Epistles.

5. Why "Simon son of Jonas?"(1) The weak name was used to remind him of his weakness. If you cannot come as Peter, come as Simon.(2) This was his name when he was converted. Nothing will help you to feed the flock of God like the memory of your conversion.(3) This was the name that Jesus called him when he made his memorable confession. Recollect in addition to your conversion the seasons in which Christ has manifested Himself to you as He does not to the world.

III. THE WORK. "Feed."

1. The middle word is "shepherdize," but the first and last is "feed." When you preach give a hearty meal: the sheep will put up with many defects if you only feed them. You may dress them, and lead them about, but this will not satisfy them. What a quantity the sheep eat in the clover field! They won't leave it and wander down the barren road. God's people hunger and thirst after righteousness, and it is promised that they shall be filled, not have a nib and a bite. Never be afraid of giving them too much doctrine. Some want to drive them, but that won't do. You say you will lead them, but first feed them. Don't lead lean sheep. You want to govern them according to the middle word: but give two doses of feeding to one of governing. You have not to invent a new food. God has appointed the proper food; and though you might concoct a new food and get your name up, that is no business of yours. That great shepherd, the Pope, how much does he govern? how much does he feed? how much are the sheep nourished by his hallowed cursings?

2. The work begins with the "little lambkins." Put the food, therefore, where they can get at it. "Bless the Lord," said a farmer, after a sermon from a substitute for his minister, a very high, classical gentleman, "the hay was put in a low crib." Some preach as though the Lord said, "Feed My camelopards." Nothing but giraffes would be able to reach it from the lofty rack in which they place the food. "Oh," say you, "I want to get them to work." Feed them up to it, then. You cannot get much work out of a starving horse. And whatever you do, feed yourself. A lean preacher makes a lean people.

3. What does this involve?(1) Watchfulness. No shepherd can afford to sleep at certain times. When you have a lambing time on — a blessed revival — you must keep your eyes open. And the devil goes about as a wolf, you must watch lest he devour the flock.(2) Patience. The sheep are prone to wander.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

From the deck of an Austrian gunboat we threw into the Lago Garda a succession of little pieces of bread, and presently small fishes came in shoals, till there seemed to be, as the old proverb puts it, more fish than water. They came to feed, and needed no music. Let the preacher give his people food, and they will flock around him, even if the sounding brass of rhetoric and the tinkling cymbals of oratory are silent.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. HOW DID THE APOSTLES GATHER THE SHEEP OF CHRIST? A man must gather a flock before he can feed it. And the apostles, we know, had a very small one at first (Acts 1:15). All men are represented in the Word of God as sheep which have gone astray. Therefore the commission of our Lord to His apostles is, to seek out His sheep (Ezekiel 34.). And our Lord tells us that His own mission was "to seek and to save that which was lost." So His commission to His apostles is, "Go ye into all the world," &c. Now the apostles fulfilled our Lord's command by the free and full proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ (Acts 2.). Now look at Acts 13. and you will see the same means used by Paul. Look again at Acts 10. and 16. The apostles went to sinners, they proclaimed to them their guilt, and pardon through the blood of a crucified Saviour. You see the effect. Those who "gladly received their word" instantly became the disciples of the Lord, and joined themselves to the flock of Christ.

II. HOW THE APOSTLES FED THE SHEEP OF CHRIST when they had gathered them to the fold. They fed them with Christ Himself. "I am the Bread of Life."

1. As proclaimed in His salvation.

2. As revealed in His Word. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom."

3. As exhibited in His ordinances.

4. As teaching in His commandments.

5. As coming in glory.

(R. J. M'Ghee, M. A.)

Feed My lambs (A Sabbath-school Sermon): — Read the whole chapter, and observe the change of scene. First, they are on the lake fishing, and dragging to land a multitude of fishes. They have all come on shore, and their faces are turned to the pastures on the hillside. Herein lieth a parable. The first work of Christ's servants is comprised in that commission, "Go ye into all the world," &c.; or, parabolically, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught." After this is done, souls converted, and brought up from the depths of sin, the scene changes: we see a flock, "the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood." This shepherd work is so important that three times the Saviour bids us attend to it. We must never so evangelize the outside mass as to forget to fold and feed those within. Concerning this shepherdizing let us note —

I. THE SPHERE. To whom does He refer?

1. To such as are little in grace. They have but a grain of mustard seed of faith as yet: their love is not a flame, but a spark apparently in danger of being suddenly blown out, and there-fore needing great care.

2. To the weak in grace. All such as are doubting, slenderly instructed, easily bewildered, cast down in spirit. If our kindness should neglect the strong it would be a sad pity, but it might not entail so much damage as if we neglect the weak. "Comfort the feeble-minded; support the weak." I think the reason why the weak were committed to Simon Peter was because he had been very weak himself. He who is himself compassed with infirmities knows the heart of the weaklings.

3. To the young in grace. They may be old in years, and yet they may be mere babes as to the length of their spiritual life, and therefore they need to be under a good shepherd. As soon as a person is converted and added to the Church he should become the object of the care and kindness of his fellow members. Young converts are too timid to ask our help, and so our Lord introduces them to us with an emphatic command. This shall be our reward, "Inasmuch as ye have done it," &c.

4. To those who have been converted while young in years. How much there is of brightness and trustfulness about children which is not seen in elder converts! Our Lord evidently felt deep sympathy with children, and he is but little like Christ who looks upon them as a trouble, and treats them as if they must needs be either little deceivers or simpletons.

5. These are to be fed because —(1) They need it. The second "feed" means exercise the office of a shepherd, but this means distinctly feed, and it directs teachers to the duty of instructing children in the faith. The lambs do not so much need keeping in order as we do who know so much, and yet know so little. Christian children mainly need to be taught the doctrine, precept, and life of the gospel. If there be any doctrine too difficult for a child, it is rather the fault of the teacher's conception of it than of the child's power to receive it. A child has not only to live as you and I have, but also to grow; hence he has double need of food. Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error. The only way to keep chaff out of the child's little measure is to fill it brimful with good wheat.(2) They are so likely to be overlooked. Our sermons often go over the heads of the younger folk. Blessed is he that can so speak as to be understanded of a child!(3) This work is so profitable. Do what we may with persons converted late in life, we can never make much of them. Train up a child, and he may have fifty years of holy service before him. It is also most beneficial work to ourselves. It exercises our humility and trains our patience; let those who doubt this try it.

II. THE MAN. Not Peter only, but those who are like Peter. Christ selected him as —

1. A leading man. He was one of the triumvirate that led the van. But though a leading man, he was to feed the lambs, for no man may think himself too great to care for the young. The best of the Church are none too good for this work.

2. A warmhearted man. Simon Peter was not a Welshman, but he had a great deal of what we know as Welsh fire. He was just the sort of man to interest the young. Children delight to gather round a fire, whether it be on the hearth or in the heart. Certain persons appear to be made of ice, and from these children speedily shrink away.

3. An experienced man. He had sinned much and had been much forgiven. We want experienced men and women to talk to children, and to tell them what have been their dangers, their sins, their sorrows, and their comforts. The young are glad to hear the story of those who have been further on the road than they have.

4. A greatly indebted man. He owed much to Jesus Christ, according to that rule of the kingdom — he loveth much to whom much hath been forgiven.

III. THE PREPARATION. Peter was prepared for feeding Christ's lambs —

1. By being fed himself. The Lord gave him a breakfast before giving him a commission. It is quite right for you to be teaching a great part of the Lord's Day; but I think a teacher is very unwise who does not come to hear the gospel preached and get a meal for his own soul.

2. By being with his Master. I commend the study of instructive books, but above all the study of Christ. An hour's communion with Jesus is the best preparation for teaching either the young or the old.

3. By self-examination. "Lovest thou Me?" Often the vessel wants scouring with self-examination before the Lord can fitly use it to convey the living water to thirsting ones. Mainly that examination should be exercised concerning our love; for the best preparation for teaching Christ's lambs is love — love to Jesus and to them. We cannot be priests on their behalf unless like Aaron we wear their names upon our breasts. A shepherd that does not love his sheep is a hireling and not a shepherd. Our subject is the love of God in Christ Jesus. How can we teach this if we have no love ourselves?

IV. THE WORK. Every lesson should be a feeding lesson. It is of little use to thump the Bible and call out, "Believe!" when nobody knows what is to be believed. I see no use in fiddles and tambourines; neither lambs nor sheep can be fed upon brass bands. Feed the lambs; you need not pipe to them, nor put garlands round their necks; but do feed them. This feeding is —

1. Humble, lowly, unostentatious work. Shepherds are generally quiet, unobtrusive people. They are never made knights or peers, albeit they do far more useful work than those who are floated into rank upon their own beer barrels. So in the ease of many a faithful teacher of young children; you hear but little about him, yet his Master knows all about him, and we shall hear of him in that day; perhaps not till then.

2. Careful work; for lambs cannot be fed on anything you please. You can soon half poison young believers with bad teaching. It is careful work the feeding of each lamb separately, and the teaching of each child by itself the truth which it is best able to receive.

3. Continuous work. Lambs could not live if the shepherd only fed them once a week; therefore good teachers of the young look after them on week days, and are careful about their souls with prayer and holy example when they are not teaching them by word of mouth.

4. Laborious work. Nothing so exhausts a man as the care of souls; so it is in measure with all who teach — they cannot do good without spending themselves. You must study the lesson, &c.

5. All this has to be done in a singularly choice spirit; the true shepherd spirit is an amalgam of many precious graces. He is hot with zeal, but not fiery with passion; gentle, and yet rules his class; loving, but does not wink at sin; he has power over the lambs, but he is not domineering or sharp; he has cheerfulness, but not levity; freedom, but not license; solemnity, but not gloom. He who cares for lambs should be a lamb himself; and there is a Lamb before the throne who cares for all of us, and does so the more effectually because He is in all things made like unto us.

V. THE MOTIVE.

1. The motive was to be his Master's self. Had Peter been the first Pope of Rome, surely Christ would have said to him, "Feed your sheep." The work that you have to do is in no sense for yourselves. Your classes are not your children, but Christ's.

2. Yet while this is a self-denying occupation, it is one of the noblest forms of service. How wonderful that Jesus should commit them to us! Jesus in effect says, "I love you so that I trust you with that which I purchased with My heart's blood."

3. We are to feed Christ's lambs out of love.(1) As a proof of love. If ye love Me, feed My lambs.(2) As an inflowing of love. If you love Christ a little when you begin to do good, you will soon love Him more. Love grows by active exercise.(3) As an outflow of love. A person may go home and sit down and groan out, "Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought," &c., but if he will rise up and work for Jesus, the point he longs to know will soon be settled.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHY ARE CHILDREN COMPARED TO LAMBS?

1. The first idea suggested is that of innocence. There is something inexpressibly pure and inoffensive in these little creatures. Not in allusion to His sacrifice only, but to His character also, Jesus is described as the "Lamb of God," "a lamb without blemish and without spot." And little children are thus lamb-like. We do not forget the sad fact of man's degeneracy. But we are not to make our theology hideous by violating nature and common sense in regarding children as great sinners. Look at this new born infant. It has no power to exercise repentance, nor has it any guilt of which to repent. The attempt to induce remorse for imaginary faults renders more difficult the task in the ease of faults which are actual. And as regards these, we should treat little children in accordance with fact and not with theory. When they cease to be infants and actually do wrong, it should be borne in mind that they are still necessarily incapable of many kinds of sin. Comparatively they still are "lambs." Let them not be induced to make confessions which in their lips are absurd; to sing hymns or say prayers which to them are untrue; to profess emotions which it is impossible for them to feel. Let us also keep them ignorant of sin as long as possible. Very injurious are many books, pictures and exhibitions which render children familiar with evil before the time. We should be cautious even in selecting their Bible lessons. Bather let us adapt our teaching to their innocence. Let us not tell them how attractive are the forbidden pastures, and run the risk of impressing them more with the charms than the perils of going astray. Rather let us show them the beauty of the pastures where the Shepherd is now leading them, the security of the fold, the happiness of the flock. Let the positive teaching of goodness fortify them against the evil when it comes.

2. This thought reminds us that they are errant. Lambs venture from their mother's side, and in playful troops wander hither and thither. However innocent at first, children have within them the seeds of evil which only need favouring circumstances to develop. Inclination within is responded to by opportunity without "A roaring lion" watches for the lambs. Look at these little children to whom robbery and adultery and murder are words without a meaning. Think now of the criminals in our gaols. They were once innocent as lambs. Alas! how thoughtless, or heartless, or both, are some parents. Young girls and boys of the poor rove through the streets as if no danger threatened them; and the children of the wealthier are often sent to schools without any caution respecting associates already old in sin.

3. Lambs are playful. What sight is more pleasant in the spring-time than the merry gambols of a young lamb. How kind is the Creator! He has made all things to be glad! Children, too, are joyous. How quickly they dry their tears! How little delights them! Religious teachers should cultivate this gladness. They will have sadness enough some day. Let them be merry while they can. Let not religion frown on their happiness. God made laughter as surely as He made tears. Joyfulness, too, should characterize their religion. Nature, God's open book, is full of delight for them. The Bible is stored with amusement for them. Guide the lambs through the green and pleasant pastures, not up craggy rocks too steep for their tiny feet. Especially let Jesus, in all the loveliness of His human character, be the teacher's constant theme. Let the hymns they sing be joyous like themselves, and let the tunes express their own gladness of heart. Let the public services to which they are taken not be so long and unsuitable to their comprehension as to link ideas of weariness with worship. And let Sunday be a day of special pleasure.

4. A lamb is an emblem of weakness and gentleness. The Good Shepherd was Himself brought "as a lamb to the slaughter;" and He is represented as gathering the lambs into His bosom. He gently leads those that need gentle treatment. Be gentle with the lambs. They cannot run far nor run long. They may be seriously injured "if men should over-drive them one day." Some good people are not wise in this respect. They may be very conscientious in bringing up their children; but they are very strict. What wonder if such children have been repelled rather than attracted! It is so mysterious that they have gone wrong?

II. THESE LAMBS ARE CHRIST'S.

1. The "Word," who became "flesh," created every little lamb. Their Maker who knows all their wants bids us care for them as His own.

2. They are Christ's because He redeemed them. If Jesus died for the whole world who will venture to exclude those to whom He said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven?" Born into a redeemed world, they are the purchased possession of its Lord.

3. Children are Christ's peculiar treasure. A large proportion of His own life was spent in childhood. He often showed His love for children. Children loved Him, and sang hosannah to Him when Scribes and Pharisees insulted Him. He took their part and said, "Have ye not read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise." He said to Peter, "Feed My lambs." How richly has His grace been often poured forth on children! And in heaven children constitute the greatest portion of its multitude and the brightest jewel in the mediatorial crown. Let us treat them as such. They are not the devil's, and must not be left to him.

III. CHRIST'S LAMBS ARE TO BE FED.

1. They must be taken to the only true pasture. Jesus is "the Bread of Life." They will starve on mere ceremonies and Church rules. Even doctrine, however scriptural, is not enough.

2. They are to be fed; not taken to the pasture merely that they may see it; nor driven to it and over it and then from it; but induced to lie down there and make it their home and the habitual nourishment and joy of their souls. They are to be fed, not crammed; but the truth is to be given them in such measure and at such times that they may digest it and grow thereby.

3. They must be fed while they are lambs. The first infant-class should be at home, and the mother the first teacher. The instructions of the church and the school are subsequent and auxiliary.

(Newman Hall, LL. B.)

I. THE OBJECTS OF THE SAVIOUR'S CARE — "My lambs."

1. Young Christians. By these we mean all, in youth or riper years, who are young in Christianity. Are you such? Then you are wise to salvation, and walking in wisdom's "ways of pleasantness," and "paths of peace." Your knowledge, however, is not perfect, and your faith is not yet confirmed and steadfast.

2. Mourners in Zion. Penitent sinners seeking salvation, with hearts "broken and contrite." The Good Shepherd loves you, seeks yea saves you. "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted."

3. Little children. How great their number! How important their position! How perilous their circumstances! How lovely, lively, tender, erring, sinful! Think of —

(1)Their hereditary guilt and depravity.

(2)Their capacity and need.

(3)Their position and influence.

(4)Their danger and

(5)duty. Their redemption and recover.

(6)Their destiny.

II. THE IMPORT OF THE SAVIOUR'S CHARGE

1. Food is provided and prepared. Are they ignorant, and in a state of intellectual destitution? This is met in the Bible. Are they condemned, and in a state of judicial destitution? This is met by the Atonement. Are they depraved, and in a state of spiritual destitution? This is met in the gift of the Spirit. Are they sinners, and in a state of moral destitution? This is met in the provision of the Gospel. Are they in a state of physical destitution? This is met in "the resurrection of life." Are they, in short, in a state of destitution which nothing less than Deity can satisfy? Here is food —

(1)Suitable and sufficient.

(2)Exhaustless and free.

(3)Satisfying and sustaining.

(4)Near and necessary.

2. The food provided and prepared is to be given to lambs.(1) Teach them "the Holy Bible" and all you can of its genuineness and inspiration; its doctrines, duties and institutions; its Author, origin, and end. Here is the School Book, the manual of children, the treasury of young men, and the profound text-book of fathers, the "Encyclopedia" of salvation. The Bible is the oldest, wisest, best book in the world.(2) Train and tend them —

(a)In the regular habit of reading, revering, believing, and loving the Bible.

(b)To believe, and trust, and rest in the atonement of the Saviour.

(c)To receive and obey, to follow and honour, the Spirit of Christ.

(d)In the duty of submission to the gospel law.

(e)To live in reference to the judgment.

3. But how is all this to be accomplished? We venture to propose the following system: Let it be —

(1)Various in adaptation.

(2)Uniform in tendency.

(3)Kind, but firm, in application.

(J. Mood.)

Union Magazine.
Many years ago, when taking my morning walk along the base of Schiehallion, one of our loftiest Highland mountains, I met a Shepherd, a regular attender at my sabbath meetings. He had his plaid closely wrapped round him, and had evidently something in it that he was carrying with unusual care. After a friendly salutation, I said, "What is this, Malcolm, that you have in your plaid?" He answered, "It is a poor forsaken lamb. When I was going my rounds this morning, I found it lying on the cold ground, its mother had left it, and it would soon have died." "And what do you intend to do with it?" "I will feed it," said the kind shepherd, "and it will soon be one of the flock." He did so. The poor forsaken lamb, revived, grew, and become one of the liveliest and strongest of the fold, while it must have pined and died but for the compassion of the shepherd.

(Union Magazine.)

I. CHRIST THINKS OF THE CHILDREN AS LAMBS. Of all the flock the Iambs are most carefully kept within the fold. The sheep may be allowed to stray, but not the lambs. In such a land as Palestine a lamb outside the fold would soon fail a prey to wild beasts. Christ ever regarded children as a part of the kingdom. He might say to His disciples, "I will make you fishers of men," but He never told them to be fishers of children, they were to be shepherds to the children, who were already in the fold. Now, that has a very deep meaning both for the lambs and the shepherds. To the lambs — it means that Christ loves you — that you are in His great fold — He is your Shepherd. If you only knew how much He loved you, you would say, "I love Him because He first loved me." But it has a meaning for those who feed them. We must treat them as lambs. They are not yet on the dark mountains of unbelief, or in the far country of sin. We have not to bring them home, but to keep them at home. If we are to do this, we must always speak of God as their best friend. If thus they think of Him, then they will never desire to leave the blessed enclosure.

II. CHRIST SAYS THEY MUST BE FED. Do not think they are too young to be fed. They will soon be sheep. The flocks of the future will be largely determined by the treatment the lambs now receive. We see this clearly enough in other realms. If a child be stinted in food, he will suffer in body all his days. No after plenty will remedy the neglect. If a child be not taught the elements of knowledge, it will be difficult to acquire them afterwards. But we do not see so clearly (would that we did!) the immense importance of providing spiritual food. Neglect of this can never be remedied. Later in life the child may be brought to the knowledge of the truth, but even then the character will not be what it might have been if it had been in early days fed after the manner of Christ. You may take a tree which has grown for some years in one place or direction, and move it to another place or give it another direction; but it will never have the vigour or grace of a young tree planted in the right place, and trained from the first in the direction you wished. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God," &c. It is easy to see why it should be so. The bent of life is determined in early days, then habits are formed, and the general tone and character of the soul are fixed.

III. THEY MUST HAVE FOOD CONVENIENT FOR THEM. Hidden in the word is surely the idea that the food must be simple. Lambs will not thrive on the food of the sheep. They need the milk, and not the hard hay, the tender herb, and not the coarse roots. It is almost as bad to give them what they cannot digest as to give them nothing to digest at all. There is in this book an abundance of provision, but we must see to it that we make a right selection therefrom. Many parts of Holy Scripture are not suited to the capacity or calculated to meet the wants of a child. They will only puzzle and perplex. Our Lord's words are best suited to the children. He so often spoke in parables that there is nearly always a picture for them to look upon as they read His words. Then, too, our Lord is ever telling of a Father, and His great love; ever revealing Him in words of tenderness and grace. Now, the main thing is for the child to be drawn to God — to know Him in Jesus Christ — to think of Him as the best Friend. If we can fix the young heart upon God, then our work is well-nigh done.

IV. THEY MUST BE FED BY THOSE WHO LOVE THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The naturalist must do his work by keen observation; the philosopher by the dry light of reason; the poet's chief ally is imagination; but love is the supreme thing in the kingdom of God. Our Lord's anxiety is all concerning Peter's love. If his heart be right, Christ knew that all else would come right.

(W. G. Horder.)

President Harrison taught for several years in a Sabbath school on the banks of the Ohio, and the Sunday before he left home for Washington to assume the duties of chief magistrate of the nation, he met his Bible class as usual; and his last counsel on the subject to his gardener at Washington, it may be hoped, will never be forgotten by his country. When advised to keep a dog to protect his fruit, he replied, "Rather set a Sunday-school teacher to take care of the boys."

(W. Baxendale.)

An Englishman, visiting Sweden, noticing the care taken in that country for educating children, who are rescued from the streets and placed in special schools, inquired if it was not costly. "Yes, but not dear. We Swedes are not rich enough to let a child grow up in ignorance, misery, and crime, to become a scourge to society as well as a disgrace to himself."

(Preacher's Lantern.)

It was beautifully said of one minister, "With the youth he took great pains, and was a tree of knowledge, with fruit that the children could reach."

(J. Houghton, D. D.)

Edmund Burke once was obliged to oppose in Parliament an unfortunate marriage law. He closed a passage of marvellous eloquence by these words: "Why do I speak of parental feeling? The children are parties to be considered in this legislation. The mover of this Bill has no child."

(Joseph Cook.)

Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift up my voice and proclaim, "Fellow citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children, to whom you must one day relinquish it all."

(Socrates.)

The son of a man very eminent in the legal profession was once standing in a felon's dock awaiting a sentence of transportation. Said the judge, who knew his parentage and history, "Do you remember your father?" "Perfectly," said the youth. "Whenever I entered his presence he said, 'Run away, my lad, and don't trouble me.'" The great lawyer was thus enabled to complete his great work on "The Law of Trusts;" and his son in due time furnished a practical commentary on the way in which a father had discharged the most sacred of all trusts committed to him in the person of his own child.

(Dr. Potter.)

Family Treasury.
A gentleman was walking over his farm with a friend, exhibiting his crops, herds of cattle, and flocks of sheep, with all of which his friend was highly pleased, but with nothing so much as his splendid sheep. He had seen the same breed frequently before, but never such noble specimens, and with great earnestness he asked how he had succeeded in rearing such flocks. His simple answer was: "I take care of my lambs, sir."

(Family Treasury.)

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