February Theme: Love
His Loves: John 21: 15-17
My Love: Ephesians 5: 29-30
In John 21, Jesus presents Himself a third time to the disciples “after that He was risen from the dead.” (vs. 14) And on this particular visit He confronts Peter by making Peter face his own love for the Lord. “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He [Peter] saith unto him, Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He [Jesus] saith unto him, Feed my lambs. [Jesus] saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. [Jesus] saith unto him, Feed my sheep. [Jesus} saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto Him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
Even reading it, I too am grieved on Peter’s behalf and have (in the past) been confused by Jesus’ harassment. I figured Jesus was just getting Peter back for having denied Him 3 times and cursing when Christ was being taken to be crucified. Which, still could be somewhat true (in the sense that Peter denied Christ three times and Christ asked Peter about his love, that significant amount of three times) - even in light of the truth and context of what Jesus is really asking Peter and how He is asking.
One of the portions of Jesus’ repeated questions that keeps jumping out at me is the fact that Jesus reminds Peter on all three occasions just who’s natural son he is - “Simon, son of Jonas.” In some translations it reads, “Simon Bar Jonas” which is the same definition in Hebrew. However, when you read Bar Jonas, it sounds like a last name (a surname) and not a declaration of who Simon Peter belongs to.
In Simon’s day a son was considered just as the father – like unto being one and the same. This was why it caused such an uproar amongst the Jews when Jesus declared, “I and my Father are the same, if you have seen me, then you have seen the Father.” He was claiming (in absolute truth) that He was one and the same with our Father, God in Heaven.
And so if we are so like someone (particularly our father) that we are the same – what is our nature? Who are we the same as? And do we treat ourselves and love ourselves the same as how we treat and love the one we are the same as?
Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” The same is true of love. I believe that to be loved you must first show yourself to be lovable. But if no one loved you, how then would you show your own self to be lovable? The answer, of course is by loving yourself. It is a concept that is so common to us that we actually take it for granted. Many people will say they love themselves absolutely, but then do not treat themselves as if they do and do not speak of themselves as if they do.
Ephesians 5:29-30 – “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
Think of the person you love most dearly in this world (excluding God or Christ) – imagine how you treat that person, the things you do for that person, the priority they get in your thoughts and actions and especially the loving and positive way in which you speak of and speak to that person. Imagine that you treated yourself the exact same way. Remember they say that love is an action and not a feeling – and therefore actions speak louder than words. How do your actions contradict your words when you say that you love yourself?
Jesus was asking Peter with what kind of love did he [Peter] love Him [Jesus]. Well, I am asking each of us, in this February month when everyone seems to have “love” on the mind (or the lack thereof), lets start first by considering with what kind of love do we love ourselves?
The last portion of Luke 10:27 says that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. But many of us actually love ourselves the way we love our neighbor. We treat our neighbor with vague regard, distrust, condemnation and harsh judgments. Rarely do we as Christians love our neighbor with unconditional love. And if we do, it’s only a few of them – perhaps the ones we know, or the ones who keep their homes clean and are loving towards us or the ones who are clean and even have a home.
The story of “the good Samaritan” answers the question “Lord, who is our neighbor?" Our neighbor is anyone who is the least of these. And unfortunately we treat our own selves as if we are the least of these.
But let’s go back to Simon, Bar Jonas – we have been adopted through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus into the family of God – sons and daughters – like unto Him who is our Father – created in His own image. We have the God-given right to change our last names to Bar Abba. I am Deidre Bat Abba – daughter of the Father. And if like the first portion of Luke 10:27 says, I actually do love the Lord with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul, then I must treat myself with that same kind of love and love myself with the love of the Father. It is then that my love can truly extend to anyone who is my neighbor and to anyone else for that matter.
So now, in stead of Jesus, I ask myself, Deidre Bat Abba, lovest thou me? And I can answer, “Yea, Lord – you know that I love me!”
Your Home Study homework: Read Jesus’ parable of “The Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:30-37 and first, answer Jesus’ question in verse 36. Then answer what it was Jesus was telling them to do in verse 37. Finally, compare this honestly with how you treat your neighbor and how you truly treat yourself.
© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones