Read John 21:15-23
Jesus’ journey to the empty cross changed everything about the way you and I might live. After He left that empty tomb behind, Jesus found Peter, whose denial He’d predicted, fishing with his friends. He called him to walk along the beach and talked to him of love and of purpose. He made sure Peter knew that the empty tomb meant he could now live free of the shame he’d brought upon himself before that rooster crowed those three times. Yes, Jesus’ journey after the empty tomb led Him to a conversation with Peter and a call to new purpose.
In a recent survey of American pastors and ministers conducted by George Barna, Christian leaders were asked to identify which books had most influenced their lives and ministries. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was the most frequent response. Billy Graham described the book as one that would “guide you to greatness—through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus.”
“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him” (Col. 1:16).
You were born by God’s purpose and for God’s purpose. It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.
So when Jesus asked Peter three times, “do you love me?” Jesus was trying to show Peter how important his new role and ministry of tending the flock of Christ’s followers would be. When someone gives us instructions over and over and over again, we must understand that this is extremely important. Jesus wanted to make sure Peter understood this key idea He was giving him and the primary reason for it, to follow Him and glorify God. (See John 21:19.) That is, purpose.
Jesus was saying: “Do you love me more than (you love) these things (fishing, including your nets and equipment)?” Peter and the others with him were perhaps puzzled about what they should do now that their earthly fellowship with Jesus was not clear. They knew Jesus was alive again, but they had no directions from Him. They needed to do something, so they quite naturally turned to their former occupation of fishing. While they were fishing, Jesus appeared to them. Following their breakfast, Jesus appropriately asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these things?” He seemed to be saying, “Are you going back to your former occupation or will you continue to follow me?”
Peter strongly affirmed his love and devotion to Jesus and Jesus gave him a ministry of purpose. Like any Christian ministry, it starts with loving Jesus above all else and to “love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind” (Lk. 10:27).
You and I can have the same type of focused purpose and ministry. It starts by answering the question from Jesus, “do you love me?”