September 23, 2018 Loving the Lord Jesus Part One


Scripture reading: John 21:15-17; Eph 6:24


[I. Introduction] The apostle Paul tells us in I Cor 13, the famous chapter on love, that if we do everything else right but do not have love we gain nothing. We must have love and when it comes to the most important person in the universe, the Lord Jesus, we should be certain not only that we love him but that our love for him is growing.


The Lord asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”, meaning did he love him more than the other disciples. You may recall that, when Jesus had predicted that that his own disciples would fall away, Peter replied that although all might desert him, he never would (Mat 26:33). Peter was implying that he loved Jesus more than the others. But, of course, Peter did fall away and denied the Lord three times.


Now Jesus asks him if he loves him more than the others do. That must have been a little painful for Peter. How does Peter respond? He doesn’t just say, “I love you.” After all, wasn’t he wrong the first time? He replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter has learned that he cannot depend on his own perceptions nor his own strength. He reflects the answer back upon Jesus, the only reliable source of truth!


Then Jesus asks him again, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus is interested in Peter’s love for him. And, our Lord is interested in our love for him as well. He asks Peter twice. He asks us, along with Peter, “Do you love me?”


Do you?


Peter replies to this second question exactly as he did the first, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”


We shall look more closely at the Lord’s response to Peter next time. But, he asks him a third time, “Do you love me?” Now Peter is sad because the Lord has asked him three times.


Do you love Jesus? If so, how much do you love him? Could you love him more than you do? Maybe you are sad because I am asking you these questions. It is good to be sad sometimes. If you respond to sadness in the right way, joy will follow.


So, Jesus asked him the third time. Finally, Peter says, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Peter here asserts that Jesus Christ is God. Is there any mere human who knows everything? No. There is not. Only God knows everything. Peter, along with Thomas, is acknowledging Jesus’ divinity. Because Jesus knows all, he knows that Pater loves him.


First, see that it is important to Jesus that we love him. Let us see now why it is important to love the Lord Jesus.


[II.] We must love the Lord Jesus because it meets our deepest need. Indeed, this is why we were created. Augustine, that great theologian of the fourth century, writes on the very first page of his book entitled Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”


Solomon writes:


So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind[1]


Verse 17 summarizes the theme of Ecclesiastes: All of life is vanity and without purpose without God.

Man seeks to satisfy himself with many things. There was a rock band by the name of Van Halen that had a number one hit in 1988. The song was When Its Love. The lyrics begin with these words:


everybody's lookin' for somethin'

Somethin' to fill in the holes

We think a lot but don't talk much about it

'Till things get out of control.


Now, that band had a large number of bad songs. They were musically talented but dwelt on hedonism in many of their songs. But they were really on to something in writing that song. They describe the human condition. “Everybody is looking for something, something to fill in the holes.” Many have a sense that there is a hole in our innermost being that needs to be filled. And, many begin seeking to fill it. In the words of Van Halen, everyone is looking. Yet…we don’t talk much about it.


According to Van Halen the missing thing is love for another person. They were half right. The missing thing is love. But even love for another person will not complete us.


We were created to love God and glorify Him. We were created to know God in an intimate way. If we do not, all of life seems vain. Yet, Jesus Christ is the “exact expression” (Hebrews 1:3; Passion Translation) of God the Father. He is the radiance of God’s glory. He who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (Jn. 14:9). Therefore, ever since the Lord came to this earth, we must love the Lord Jesus to fulfill our purpose.


We must love the Lord Jesus because it meets our deepest need to be loved and to love in return.


[III.] We must love the Lord Jesus because of all he has done for us.


We must never forget that we deserve hell. That would be our destination if it were not for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father was under no obligation to redeem us. It was only His mercy that sent His Son to Calvary. It was only the grace of the Lord Jesus that volunteered his very life in place of ours. Jesus paid the price that we could never pay!


Not only that, but he continues to intercede for us. We disappoint and insult God by our acts of disobedience which we sometimes do. The Lord Jesus prays for us in our weakness.


We also make unwise decisions. If we were completely left to ourselves we would be in much more difficult situations than we find ourselves in.


The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

6    The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

7    The Lord will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

8    The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore. [2]

We are under the keeping power of God! When David writes that the Lord is our shade he intends to communicate the shelter from troubles that come in life. For, surely, we do not need shade from moonlight! He is saying that we will be sheltered from troubles in the daytime and troubles in the nighttime. Praise Him! Thank you, Lord!


The sheltering of the Lord Jesus Christ is working day and night. Like sheep, we do not see the peril that lies around so many corners. But, the Lord Jesus is sheltering us from falling into the pit, from falling off a cliff, from the clutches of wolves. We will look back on our lives and see the many spiritual perils that we avoided because God was sheltering us. We will thank Him on that day![3]


There was a boy by the name of Ted Stallard. He was turned off by school. He was very sloppy in appearance. Expressionless. Unattractive. Even his teacher, Miss Thompson, enjoyed bearing down her red pen -- as she placed Xs beside his many wrong answers.

If only she had studied his records more carefully. They read:

1st grade: Ted shows promise with his work and attitude, but (has) poor home situation.

2nd grade: Ted could do better. Mother seriously ill. Receives little help from home.

3rd grade: Ted is good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.

4th grade: Ted is very slow, but well-behaved. His father shows no interest whatsoever.

Christmas arrived. The children piled elaborately wrapped gifts on their teacher's desk. Ted brought one too. It was wrapped in brown paper and held together with Scotch Tape. Miss Thompson opened each gift, as the children crowded around to watch. Out of Ted's package fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, with half of the stones missing, and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker. But she silenced them by splashing some of the perfume on her wrist, and letting them smell it. She put the bracelet on too.

At day's end, after the other children had left, Ted came by the teacher's desk and said, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother. And the bracelet looks real pretty on you. I'm glad you like my presents." He left. Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her and to change her attitude.

The next day, the children were greeted by a reformed teacher -- one committed to loving each of them. Especially the slow ones. Especially Ted. Surprisingly -- or maybe, not surprisingly, Ted began to show great improvement. He actually caught up with most of the students and even passed a few.

Time came and went. Miss Thompson heard nothing from Ted for a long time. Then, one day, she received this note:

Dear Miss Thompson:

I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class.

Love, Ted

Four years later, another note arrived:

Dear Miss Thompson:

They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.

Love, Ted

And four years later:

Dear Miss Thompson:

As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year.

Miss Thompson attended that wedding, and sat where Ted's mother would have sat. The compassion she had shown that young man entitled her to that privilege.


You see, because of what Mrs. Thompson did for Ted, he loved her. His love was expressed in gratitude by writing to her throughout his academic career and by inviting her to his wedding. His love was well placed. How can you not love someone who has done so much for you? Yet, what Jesus has done for us is greater than what Mrs. Thompson did for Ted.


He has saved us from a place of never-ending justice. He has intercedes for us in prayer. And, he shelters us from dangers – both physical and spiritual.


We must love the Lord Jesus because of the wonderful things he has done for us.


[IV. Application of Part One]


We have seen two reasons why we should love the Lord Jesus. It is our fulfillment and it is the right response for all He has done for you. If we love him already, we can love him more. The more we love him, the more we will fulfill our deepest longings.


How may we love the Lord more? Today, I will share one way that we can do this.


The simplest way that we can love the Lord is by telling him. There are two ways that we can tell him. One way is focused prayer. What I mean by focused prayer is a prayer that has some substance to it. Often, this will be a prepared prayer. But, it can also be a spontaneous prayer that has some detail. As an example of a focused prayer that is prepared, a friend of mine posted a prayer on facebook. It was the hand of the Lord because I already knew on Monday that I was going to share about loving the Lord. Then I saw this prayer on Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s called confirmation! When I read the prayer I was deeply touched. It is a beautiful prayer. As I began to say this prayer out loud I felt my love for the Lord grow! Oh! That is such a blessed experience! There is nothing better! Here is the prayer:


Lord, how I thank You that
You died on the cross for me.
Your mercy, my Savior, reached me.
And Lord, You paid the highest price;
My life bought with Your shed blood.

My life now belongs, Lord, to You.
And Lord, how can I turn away from Your love?
The eternal life which You bought for me?
I give You my heart;
Lord, spread to ev'ry part
Till my whole heart belongs to You.

Lord, gain my heart so that
It is single and pure for You.
No other love, Lord, would I know.
Lord, I am so in love with You,
For You are so lovely.
My everything, my all in all.


I started saying this prayer three or four times per day.


The other kind of prayer is a short prayer that can be said at any time and can be said often, even consecutively. An example of this is the simple prayer,


O Lord Jesus, I love you.


Let us pray that together three times.


It is only six words but, if they are sincere, they are powerful! You can add the words of the father of the boy who had an unclean spirit:


O Lord Jesus, I love you. Help my lack of love.


You can say these kinds of prayers many times.  Do not be ashamed to say these words many times! Do you know that words direct our hearts? They do! As we affirm the truth that we love Jesus, we will love him even more.


As the Lord permits, next time we will see one more reason to have our love for the Lord grow!









[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ec 2:9–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 121:5–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] For more on the sheltering of the Lord see: