An elderly couple were lying in bed, the old gentleman was about asleep when his wife asked, “Do you love me? “I love you,” he replied, half asleep.

“You used to hug me,” she said.  He groaned, rolled over and hugged her.

He was nearly asleep again when she said, “I know that his sounds strange, but you used to nibble my ear.”

Again he groaned and got out of bed, “Where are you going?”  She asked.

“I’m going to the bathroom to get my teeth.”

“Do you love me” is a question that may be in our minds but do not ask as we think about a spouse, a friend, or even God.  Flowers and chocolates are nice but the real answer requires much more.

Peter thought that he loved Jesus so much that he would die rather than deny Him (see Matthew 26:35).  All of the disciples thought the same.  But on the night of Jesus’ torture followed by Crucifixion, Peter denied Jesus three times, then wept bitterly.

Though Peter later saw the empty tomb and Jesus, he was not settled about his failure and the “love” that he had displayed.  He and others went fishing on Galilee, but they caught nothing.  At dawn Jesus became visible and had prepared breakfast for them.  After they ate together, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  He asked three times, reminding Peter of his awful failure.  Each time, Peter tried to reaffirm his love.  Jesus’ answer to Peter’s effort was, “If you love me, feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep.”  In other words, if you love me, take care of my people.

Peter’s failure was that he had taken care of himself, and that was not Jesus’ definition of love.  Peter was getting a new definition of love – God’s kind.

God’s love is sacrificial; God’s love is forgiving and enduring; God’s love is concerned about others; God’s love is not just about promises, it is about performance.  Love is about more than what is said; it is about what it does.

It should be noted that Peter finally got it.  In the end, he did give his life for Jesus and Jesus’ people.  He finally died rather than deny.  Indeed, since that day, millions have understood that kind of love and have died rather than deny. That is happening in our world today.

It is one thing when we ask, “Do you love me?”  It is quite another thing when God asks the same question.  Can we grow through our own failure to know God’s love that reaches to us and through us to all of those that He loves.  We are being stretched to know the love of God that endures through our failure, forgives, seeks out those estranged from Him, and serves the concerns of others.

Have a blessed Valentine’s Day!

Charles Simpson