The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” John 21:17 (NIV)
He is hurt. Jesus has gone to tedious repetition. He asks a question that should be obvious. Jesus knows everything. But He keeps on asking Peter if he loves Him. At the insistence of Jesus and His questions Peter cannot help but feel like Jesus doubts his love for the Lord. Can we relate?
Can we remember a moment where someone has questioned our love for the Lord? Does it sting us when we become aware that our love for Jesus isn´t as obvious as we think it is? How could this happen? Could Jesus be using these situations and the doubts of others to put us to the question? If so, why is it that others cannot see how deeply we love our God? How could this still happen after all that we have come through with Him? After we have walked with Jesus and talked so often with Him, why would our faith ever come into question? Do we even care to know? Does it really hurt us? Should it?
It would be worse if we were not moved by the question of whether or not we love Jesus. Would our confidence in ourselves betray where our own loyalties lie? Could we be putting too much pride in our own efforts, our own intelligence and our own strength of will? Does the very fact that Christ´s questioning pains us, tell us that we are still sensitive towards Him? Does our discomfort demonstrate that we do care for Him? Does it show that we are still moved by our faith, our religion and our love? Does it show us and the world around that we are truly concerned about pleasing Him even more than we are about patting ourselves on the back?
If we can use these situations to place ourselves before Jesus and face His scrutiny then perhaps there is still hope for us. If we can face Jesus´ question often perhaps we can keep our love for Him at the forefront of our thinking and our actions. If we can place ourselves in Peter´s shoes and feel his pain at the insistence of Jesus, then surely we can stretch and grow our love for Jesus too! If we can realize that the insistent questioning of Jesus can bring us into a closer and more intimate relationship with Him, then we can tie ourselves infinitely to Him. We can go on like Peter and be a pillar of strength and an inspiration to all those we come in contact with. Shall we thank the Lord for His questioning? Could we embrace Jesus´ sweetly insistent yet painful inquiry even now?
Scrutinize us today at Your will. Be insistent if You see the need. You know all things. You know what is best. You know how much more sincere we can come to You in our love. We desire the same intense love that You would like to cultivate within us. Please help us embrace any chance to question our love and dedication to You. Help us endure the painful inquiry and to use it to grow closer to You. And thank You for caring enough for us to show us where distance could separate so that we can move ever nearer to You and to our Father we pray!