We can imagine Jesus asking those questions as they walked along the dusty roads of Palestine, along the shores of the Dead Sea, or up the sides of the hills around Jerusalem. The questions often seemed innocuous at first and easily answered. Questions like the one he asked His disciples on the road to Caesarea Philippi: “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13-15) The disciples were quick to answer. They’d been in the market places, in the synagogues. They knew what the people were saying and seemed eager to tell Jesus that he was well thought of.
The people were comparing Jesus to some of their greatest heroes, some even believed those heroes had returned in His form. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” We can imagine Jesus stopping then and turning to face the men who followed him. “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”
It was Simon who answered first, proclaiming his belief – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16). Jesus responds by proclaiming Simon’s true identity. He calls him first by his biological name – he is Simon, the son of Jonah. Then he gives him a new name, a new identity – Peter, the rock, the one who will build the church, the one whose authority will reach into heaven itself.
It isn’t much later when that same Peter is asked another question, three times. “Hey, aren’t you a disciple of that Jesus?” Peter had a quick answer then too, but it wasn’t the right one. His denial of His Lord seemed to fly in the face of the new identity Jesus had given him. But that wasn’t the end of the story. There were more questions to come.
After the crucifixion, after the resurrection, Jesus came and ate with Peter and a few other fishermen. Perhaps Peter had gone back to fishing, doubting that all those other dreams would ever come true. But Jesus broke bread with him again, and asked him another question, three times. “Simon, do you truly love me?”
I wonder how quick Peter was to answer? I wonder what he felt when he realized it was three for three? No doubt that question rang in his ears for the rest of his life, right up until he too was crucified.
It’s a question that should ring in our ears too, a question that should make us stop, examine our motives and our hearts. It’s the ultimate love question.
Do we truly love Him?
**********This post excerpted from Focused Reflections, Marcia's devotional book for special occasions.
Visit her website to learn more about her writing and speaking ministry - http://www.vinemarc.com/