After His resurrection, the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples was by the Sea of Galilee. He gave them breakfast and then began a dialogue with Peter which was to reinstate him after his denial.
The first question that Jesus asks is, “Do you truly love me more than these?” He was presumably referring to Peter’s bold statement earlier that even if all the rest of the disciples fell away, he never would, implying that he loved Jesus more than all the others did. Surely an example of pride coming before a fall!
However, I recently felt God challenging me personally to interpret these words of Jesus in a different way. What He seemed to be asking me was: “Do you truly love me more than anything else?” In other words, is there anything that I am holding on to and putting before Jesus in my life?
For the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 it was his riches that stopped him following Jesus. Do our material possessions, or the desire for a worldly lifestyle, a well-paid job, or a beautiful home, prevent us from responding wholeheartedly to Jesus’ call on our lives? Are these things more important to us than Jesus?
For some of us it may be our own comfort that we love more than Jesus. Our self-centred carnal nature can be crying out for its demands to be met. This can manifest in many different ways, such as the temptation to stay in bed rather than get up to pray, to look to food or drink to meet our needs, to sit in front of the television rather than responding to the Lord’s prompting to be still before Him, to read the Bible or to reach out to others. We can be focussing on our own desires, or even our self-pity, rather than the Lord. We can also be reluctant to step out of our comfort zone and so we continue to do things our way, rather than asking the Lord what He wants.
Sometimes it’s our family or relationships that hold us back. In Matthew 19:28 Jesus promises that ‘Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life’. For some, especially in other parts of the world, following Jesus can mean having to turn their back on family.
What about us? Jesus’ words to the young ruler were ‘one thing you lack’. What’s the one thing that each of us finds difficult to lay down, the one thing that’s getting in the way of complete surrender to Jesus? Why not search your heart today so that you can give a wholehearted “Yes” to Jesus’ question: ‘Do you love me more than these?’
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