Come Let Us Adore Him in the New Year

Bible Book: John  21 : 15-17
Subject: Love of Jesus; Love for Jesus; New Year

The hymn writer first penned the words in the 1700s, "O Come All Ye Faithful." The chorus repeats the call, "Come let us adore Him." Indeed, we should come and adore Him!

It is very fitting that Christmas is seen as a time to renew our worship of Christ. Just like the Magi who came from afar to worship Him and bring gifts, we need to bow before Him and give Him our very best. Thus, the call today is to "Come let us adore Him." Of course, it is a proper exercise at any time for Christians to stop consider our love for Christ.

Some years ago a man came home from work and was met by his wife who seemed troubled. When asked the nature of her agitation, she responded that the preacher had been by to visit and had asked if she and her husband loved Jesus with all their hearts. The husband asked, "Well, did you tell him that we go to a church almost every week?" The wife responded, "He didn't ask me about that." The husband continued, "Well, surely you told him that we volunteer at our church for occasional duties."

"No honey," she said, "he didn't ask me about that."

"I know," the husband went on, "that you shared with him that we give to the annual mission’s fund and put something in the plate whenever we are in church."

"Dear," she said, "he never asked me about our giving, or working or attending, he only asked if we loved Jesus with all our hearts."

"Well, then," the husband asked, "what did you tell him?"

"I told him I would have to wait for you to come home to answer that."

Friends, that is the question, isn't it? Do we love Jesus with all our hearts? That is the question Simon Peter faced and it is the question that we face as well.

Recall with me the setting for the repeated question by our Lord. On the night that Jesus was arrested and treated so brutally by the religious leaders and Roman authorities, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. Peter had not only denied that he knew Christ, he denied it three times.

After Jesus rose from the grave, He came on one occasion and found Peter at the lake where and where he and some other disciples had been fishing. They had, in essence, gone back to their nets. Jesus confronted Peter with this question, "Simon, do you love me?" Jesus asked the question three times, just as Peter had denied Him three times.

I want us to see the profound meaning that the repeated question of Jesus presented to Peter, and confronts us as we hear it. There are three great truths in this passage that are noteworthy.

I. The Repeated Question from Jesus Reveals a Problem

Simon Peter had a problem which we all have, and that issue is identified in the question of Jesus. We see it in four parts.

A. Selfishness substituted for His Preeminence - Peter was Broken

It was selfishness that started the entire debacle. Why had Peter denied that he knew Jesus? Peter was afraid that he might have to suffer the fate which Jesus was experiencing on the night of our Lord’s arrest. He, in essence, substituted his own selfish interest in the place of the preeminence of Christ.

When North Korea fell to the communists, all the Christians in a small village were ordered to go at once to their church. The building was plain and simple, and the people had placed a picture of Christ on the wall. When the soldiers walked in, they took it down and put it on the floor. All who did not want to be shot had to come forward and spit on the picture. The first four people did and were set free. Next came a young girl. She bent down and wiped the spittle from the picture. Then she embraced it tenderly and said, "Jesus, I love You!" She was taken outside, and the sound of shots was heard.

The issue for that girl was not the desecration of a sacred object, it was love for the Person it represented. Each of us, including myself, must honestly try to think of our own response to such a situation. After all, if things continue in the direction they are going, we may face the circumstances that young Christian girl faced.

B. Restlessness substituted for His Presence - Peter was Backslidden

After Peter has denied that he knew the Lord, he went back to his nets and deserted his calling as a fisher of men. Peter was restless and impatient. He could not wait long enough to allow the Lord to make things right, so he took matters into his own hands. Impatience has been the undoing of many a great soul. You and I may not be able to understand all the things happening to us, our family members, our churches and Christians around the world, but we must give God time to complete His purpose. You can be sure that the Lord is not losing the battle. The One who rose from the dead is not confused or weak, no matter what our eyes may see.

C. Weakness substituted for His Power – Peter was Beaten

Peter had been fished all night, according to our text in John 21, and had caught nothing. He was completely exhausted. The reason for his exhaustion was the fact that he was working in his own strength. He had put his own power in the place of God's power. Which would you rather have, your own strength or that of the Lord?

D. Emptiness substituted for His Provision - Peter was Barren

A fourth problem for Peter was that he had caught nothing after all his effort. He was barren. He was empty. Without Jesus, we too will come up hallow and depressed. There is always barrenness without His blessing!

Now who among us can claim to have avoided these four pitfalls? I believe this is one reason we can identify with Peter so well; we have all walked in his shoes! There are vows to the Lord we did not keep, just as Peter told the Lord before the cross that even if all the others deserted him, he would go to the death with Him.

Also, we have substituted self-interests for His interests. We have sometimes been too busy and too impatient to wait upon the Lord to renew our strength. We have exhausted ourselves and come up barren in the process.

Jesus was pointing out to Simon and to us that our problems begin when our love grows feeble. We are as strong in the Lord as our Love is strong for the Lord.

II. The Repeated Question from Jesus Reveals a Priority

When Jesus asked Peter about his love, He was pointing out the priority that heaven puts on this subject. This is seen throughout the Bible.

A. First in the Commandments - Old Testament

When Jesus was asked about the Law, He responded that the Law is fulfilled in two statements, "Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul, mind and strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself." The Old Testament priority was not on obeying the Law but on loving the Lawgiver.

Many years ago a young lad in a small village was working in a general store when a man entered and ordered some cloth. Observing that the owner of the establishment wasn't there, the customer suggested the boy cheat a little and give him an extra yard or two. "It'll be all right, son," he said, "no one will ever know about it. Your master isn't in." Looking somewhat stunned, the youngster quickly replied, "Oh, but you're mistaken, sir. My Master is always in! You see, I'm a Christian." The lad was conscious of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

B. First in the Church - New Testament

The Pharisees tried to obey the Law but they did not love God. Jesus had more trouble with them than anyone else He faced. John points out in one of his epistles that God is love. Jesus taught that we are to love Him and to love one another as He has loved us.

We see how important love for the Lord is in the incident Jesus had on one occasion with Mary and Martha. Martha was serving but Mary was sitting. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “best” thing to do. Jesus was not saying that Martha was wrong to serve, He was simply pointing out that the priority of God is on loving and then on serving. Each is important, but only love can lead the way.

"Martha in the kitchen, serving with her hands;
Occupied FOR Jesus, with her pots and pans.
Loving Him, yet fevered, burdened to the brim,
Careful, troubled Martha, occupied FOR Him.
Mary on the footstool, eyes upon her Lord;
Occupied WITH Jesus, drinking in His word.
This one thing was needful, all else strangely dim:
Loving, resting Mary, occupied WITH Him.
So may we, like Mary, choose the better part:
Resting in His presence, hands and feet and heart;
Drinking in His wisdom, strengthened by His grace,
Waiting for the summons, eyes upon His face.
When it comes, we're ready, spirit, will, and nerve;
Mary's heart to worship, Martha's hand to serve;
This the rightful order, as our lamps we trim,
Occupied WITH Jesus, then occupied FOR Him!" (Lois Reynolds Carpenter)

We see this truth in the Old Testament in the Creation story. Adam's first full day on earth was not a work day but a Sabbath day. God meant for Adam to spend the day with Him before He went to work. The Sabbath did not come at the end of work, it came in essence at the beginning!

Always, God is putting the emphasis on love. That is the priority.

III. The Repeated Question from Jesus Reveals a Purpose

In all that happened that day by the shore, Jesus had a purpose. His purpose was not to embarrass Peter. In fact, the text itself defies that logic. When Jesus spoke to Peter with these questions, He did so with great tenderness but also with probing conviction. The Scripture could have used a word other than "lego" to describe the words of Christ. The Greek word “lego” means to relate to the person being spoken to. Some words for 'speak' mean simply to express yourself, with the emphasis on the speaker. Another word could have been used which means to harangue or speak randomly, without much thought. But the Bible uses a word which means to "lay" forth a word, or to try to "relate" to the person being spoken to. He even calls him Simon and not Peter. Simon meant, "God has heard." Peter meant, "Rock." Simon did not feel like a rock at that moment, and Jesus did not insult him by calling him something that might have served only to remind him of his failure. He called him Simon, which meant that God had heard his cry and remembered him.

Look with me at the three-fold purpose which our Lord had in confronting Peter with the question of love.

A. The Remembrance that Peter Needed

Peter needed to be reminded that God's love is not like human love. Peter perhaps thought that God could no longer love him because of his sin. Jesus was pointing out to Peter that God's love is different. Let me explain. When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved Him, He used the word "agapao." This word comes from the word "Agape" which is a God-like love. When Peter responded, he used the word, "Phileo," which speaks of a human love of friendship. Peter admitted that he did not love God with the same kind of love that God had for him. He realized suddenly that God's love was beyond his own love. Peter needed to be reminded of just how much God loved him!

B. The Recommissioning that Peter Needed

Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs. In essence, Jesus was giving Peter a new commission to service. Aren't you glad that Jesus is the Lord of the second chance. Peter certainly was!

There is a fable about a dog who loved to chase other animals. He bragged about his great running skill and said he could catch anything. Well, it wasn't long until his boastful claims were put to the test by a rabbit. With ease the little creature outran his barking pursuer. The other animals, watching with glee, began to laugh. The dog excused himself, however, by saying, "You forget, folks, that I was only running for fun, but the rabbit was running for his life.

Motivation makes a difference in almost everything we do. In fact, it determines the way believers serve the Lord. Some people serve Him half-heartedly because they feel obligated. But there are others who serve with urgency and zeal because they recognize the terrible plight of people who are lost in their sin.

C. The Recommitment that Peter Needed

Peter replied by saying, "Lord, you know." The word He used actually stated that Christ could "see" whether Peter loved Him or not. Hebrews 4:13, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

The third time Jesus asked this question, He changed the word love to the same word that Peter was using. In other words, Jesus asked, "Peter, if you can't love me like I love you, let’s start where you are. Do you love me with all your human heart?" Peter responded that he did love Jesus with all his poor human heart." When Jesus changed the way He asked the question, Peter was grieved, not only because he remembered that he had denied Jesus three times, but because he realized how far he had to go to love with a love like that of Christ!

Remorse for past failures or sins deprives many Christians of the joy that should be theirs. A man in his middle years has withdrawn from the people in his church because he feels so bad about his past infidelity - a sin that broke up his home. An elderly woman needs counseling from time to time because she can't forget an affair in which she was involved more than fifty years before. A young lady is under the care of a psychiatrist because she can't forgive herself for having had an abortion. Each of these people are now Christians, but each is paralyzed at times by remorse over the past. Like Peter, we need to realize that Jesus loves those who have failed, and He calls us to Himself that we might rise above our lesser selves through His strength. Peter did just that, and went on to serve the Lord in great ways.


Let us, like Peter, renew our love for Christ by simply responding to His amazing love for us. If we do, we can go forth in this New Year filled with passion and purpose.

C.H. Spurgeon told about the deep love and devotion French soldiers had for their leader Napoleon. He noted that it was not at all unusual for a mortally wounded soldier to raise himself up on one elbow and give a final cheer to his revered General. Perhaps one of the most eloquent expressions of all, however, came from the lips of a soldier who had been shot in the chest. As the surgeon was attempting to remove the bullet, the suffering man was heard to whisper, "If you go much deeper, Doctor, you'll come to the Emperor!" Spurgeon commented, "He had him on his heart."

Jesus came on that first Christmas to be laid in a manger, but His purpose was to live a perfect life, die a ransoming death, to rise in a triumphant victory and to make it possible for you to know Him as the Lord living in your heart! Jesus does not force Himself into anyone's life. He knocks and you must open. You can believe that Jesus came on that first Christmas, but have you received Him into your heart? You can. Right now. This moment.

Also, some of us know thorughout this year that we have failed Him. Like Simon Peter, we have not been obedient. Now is a great time to say to Him, "Lord, you know that I love you."

Let us respond as we sing!

Let it be true of us that our love is visible, virtual, and vital in this New Year we are entering!