“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He 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. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He 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. John 21:15-17
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
He did not say, “Simon, son of Jonas, fearest thou me.” He did not say, “Dost thou admire me? Dost thou adore me?” Nor was it even a question concerning his faith. He did not say, “Simon, son of Jonas, believest thou in me?” but he asked him another question, “Lovest thou me?” I take it, that is because love is the very best evidence of godliness. Love is the brightest of all the graces; and hence it becomes the best evidence. I do not believe love to be superior to faith; I believe faith to be the groundwork of our salvation; I think faith to be the mother grace, and love springs from it; faith I believe to be the root grace, and love grows from it. But then, faith is not an evidence for brightness equal to love. Faith, if we have it, is a sure and certain sign that we are God’s children; and so is every other grace a sure and certain one, but many of them cannot be seen by others. Love is a more sparkling one than any other. If I have a true fear of God in my heart, then I am God’s child; but since fear is a grace that is more dim and has not that halo of glory over it that love has, love becomes one of the very best evidences and one of the easiest signs of discerning whether we are alive to the Saviour. He that lacks love, must lack also every other grace in the proportion in which he lacks love. If love be little, I believe it is a sign that faith is little; for he that believes much loves much. If love be little, fear will be little, and courage for God will be little.
Sermon no. 117
7 September (1856)