Posts Tagged 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8a

Whom Do You Love

John 21: 15

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?

That was a loaded question. If you have ever heard a teaching on this passage which delves into the Greek words for “love” you know that Peter was really up against the wall because Jesus was talking about a deeper kind of love than Peter was yet able to fathom. I would like for us to look at this passage today in a similar way to the Greek word study but in a way that I think makes Jesus’ meaning even more clear. (By the way, the easy way to see what was going on in the Greek is to read this passage in the Amplified Bible.)  

Let us take today’s verse and overlay it onto 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8a. When we do so we find Jesus asking Peter a series of questions. First let us read the passage from 1 Corinthians. “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. Love never comes to an end” (God’s Word Translation). In many versions the last sentence reads, Love never fails. Well, you get the point but if you really want a revelation, read this passage in the Amplified translation. Actually, read it in a lot of translations. You will be enlightened. Anyway, when you read 1 Corinthians 13 together with John 21: 15 you find Jesus asking Peter (and each of us), Peter, do you love me – will you be patient with me? Peter, are you kind to me? Are you jealous? Do you brag? Are you arrogant and self-centered? Are you ever rude to me? Peter, are you thinking of yourself or of me? Are you irritable with me? Do you keep a record of past wrongs? Are you happy with unrighteousness; happy in the truth? Will you always be patient with me, believe in me, never give up, never fail and never stop hoping? That is what Jesus was asking when he said, “Peter do you love me?” 

Now think of it this way. Jesus has said to you, “I love you.” When Jesus says he loves you he speaks in the fullness of the concept of love. That means that he is conveying to you all of those things found in 1 Corinthians 13. There is great richness and depth in Jesus’ love for you. This is the way the Father loves you also. They love you with their whole being for love is not a shallow word in Christ.

Think of this also the next time you tell a person that you love them. Do you mean to convey all that is found in 1 Corinthians 13? If not, then you don’t really love that person. It may be a deep form of “like” but it isn’t love if you cannot put their needs in front of your own applying all of the characteristics of love. You see, 1 Corinthians 13 defines love for us. In our society we can sometimes use the word love very casually but now that we see what it truly means we may want to curb our tongues. Don’t misunderstand me though. I am all for telling people that you love them. I just want you to mean what you say and understand what love is. If we are not patient and kind to people then we have to conclude that we really do not love them with what God calls love. We may need them, want them, etc. but we have not reached that place in our hearts where we can love as Jesus commanded. When this is the case we must look within ourselves and ask why we, like Peter, have such difficulty expressing true love.

Peter was at the infancy of his ministry when Jesus asked him this question and it really was a question that was intended to prepare Peter for ministry. As we continue to follow Peter’s life and ministry we see that he did get a revelation of what Jesus began teaching him with that simple question. Peter grew and changed and became a great disciple of Christ and a great bearer of the commission and commandment of Jesus. Jesus only gave us one commandment and that command is to love one another (John 13: 34). Our commission is to spread love. It sounds so 1960’s but it is the truth and the essence of Christian life and evangelism. Go into all the world and tell them the good news (Mark 16: 15). What is the good news? That God loves them and that Jesus has restored them to that non-failing, endless love.

So, I want to ask you this question. Who do you love? Do you love Jesus? Does your love for God stand up to the test? Are we putting our needs and wants before God? It is a tough test, to be sure, but looking inside our hearts for the answers will help us to grow as people and as Christians. Live, love and grow.