“Do you love me more than these?”
This is the question that Jesus asks Peter three times in John 21. It is also the question he asks us each and everyday if we will listen. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him more than…well the fish actually. He is asking Peter if he loves his life of fishing more than following him. He is asking Peter if he is willing to sacrifice, to follow him, to give up fishing and start feeding the sheep. To start sacrificing himself for the lives of others.
This is a tough question. And Jesus asks us the same one. “Do you love me more than these?” And the “these” in your life could be anything. Do you love me more than your job? Do you love me more than your reputation? Do you love me more than your wealth? All of a sudden this question gets way too personal…way too fast.
But it is a question we need to embrace because it is a question that leads to life. You might point out that it is actually a question that leads to death…well that is true. This question will lead Peter to his death, as Jesus makes it clear in verse 18 and it will lead to us dying as well. But that is always where the Gospel has led, to our deaths, so that we might be reborn and know new life. Answering that question will lead us to dying in all sorts of ways. It will mean dying to power, to greed, to lust, to anger, and maybe even to physical death as it will for Peter. But what the gospel promises is that we will be raised to great things, to new life, to new creation, it promises resurrection in the face of death.
That is why though we resist the question Jesus asks us. Because the question, “Do you love me more than these”, is a question of sacrifice and learning to die. And sacrifice has never been easy; if it was it wouldn’t be sacrifice.
And I know that some might wonder do I need to sacrifice? What about grace? Yes there is still grace, it is still free, it is still available, and it always saves. What I am saying is that following Jesus is about sacrificing, being saved by Jesus is all about grace. What we so often forget is that there would be no grace without the sacrifice of Jesus. I’m not talking about how we are saved, I’m talking about how we are to live once we are saved. And how we are to live is like Jesus, a lifestyle of sacrifice so that others might know God’s grace and love.
My contention on Sunday wasn’t that sacrifice is easy. My contention is simply that it’s the way you follow Jesus. You can’t follow Jesus without sacrifice, without dying, without giving up and giving in to him. Jesus says to Peter, “You follow me”. And he says the same thing to each of us.
I know it’s hard but the hard things are the only things worth doing. So today if you want to live for something, and do something meaningful…why not spend sometime with Jesus answering his question… “Do you love me more than these?”
Big Idea: Being an apprentice is a life of continual sacrifice
- The world isn’t changed through programs but people who follow Jesus
- Its possible to attend church, but not follow Jesus
- Do you know how to not just come to church, but become like Christ
- “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.” Soren Kierkegaard
- Even when we give up on Jesus, he doesn’t give up on us
- You can never go backwards to become who you were
- To be a follower of Jesus means being willing to sacrifice
- You have as much of Jesus in your life as you want
- What are the “these” in your life?
- Your relationship with Jesus only grows the depth you are willing to sacrifice.
- We only have grace because of sacrifice
- Comparison kills spiritual growth
- Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others. It ahs everything to with being as great as each of us can be. Henri Nouwen
- You…follow me
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? Was this sermon hard to hear or freeing? Why might that be? What are the “these” in your life? What is Jesus asking you to sacrifice? How can comparison kill your spiritual growth? When are you tempted to look around at others rather than follow Jesus? Who can support you in your sacrifice? How can you remember to keep asking Jesus, what are the “these” in my life?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Begin by sharing with your kids what Jesus has sacrificed for us. Then take a moment and talk to them about how we too are called to sacrifice. Teach and talk to them how following Jesus is about sacrifice. Tell them some things you’ve sacrificed to follow Jesus, and maybe even tell them what you are called to sacrifice. Ask them if there is anything you as a family should sacrifice to follow Jesus.
Challenge for this Week:
Sacrifice for Jesus