Sunday, April 08, 2007

Learning To Love Jesus
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Learning to Love Jesus

Intro.: At one time I taught a kindergarten Sunday School class.

  1. The story I read about makes perfect sense to me.

  2. One Sunday late in Lent a Sunday School teacher decided to ask her class what they remembered about Easter. The first little fellow suggested that Easter was when “all the family comes to the house and they eat a big turkey and watch football.” The teacher suggested that perhaps he was thinking of Thanksgiving, not Easter, so she let a pretty young girl answer. She said Easter was the day “when as you come down the stairs in the morning you see all the beautiful presents under the tree.” At this point, the teacher was really feeling discouraged. But after explaining that the girl was probably thinking about Christmas, she called on a lad with his hand tentatively raised in the air. Her spirits immediately perk up as the boy says that Easter is the time “when Jesus was crucified and buried.” She felt she had gotten through to at least one child until he added, “And then He comes out of the grave and if He sees His shadow we have six more weeks of winter.”1

  3. Easter is not about Turkey, Easter is not about presents, and Easter is not about winter.

  4. Easter is about Jesus Christ – his death, his burial, and his resurrection.

  5. Today I want to look at one passage that will focus our attention on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Read: John 21:15-19


Trans: A slight change in direction.

  1. Focus has been “Learning to love like Jesus loved.”

  2. Today we focus on “Learning to love Jesus”

T.S. I want to look at four ways in which we need to love Jesus.

  1. We love Jesus with OUR HEARTS

    1. Eventually love will effect the way we live, but it will start in what happens in our heart.

    2. It is true in human relationships and in our relationship with God.

    3. Jesus understood it – this was the question that He was asking of Peter.

    4. Remember that Peter had really had shown rather poor behavior the day that Jesus was crucified. Jesus had not been surprised – I don't know whether Peter was surprised or not. But, regardless, it was just a few days before that Peter had been challenged about his relationship to Jesus Christ. In fact he had been challenged not just once, not twice, but three times – and each time he had denied knowing Jesus.

    5. In some way, this whole conversation is a response to that event. Jesus does not love Peter any less because of his behavior – but does he really want to leave His church in the care of men who will deny him at the simplest sign of hardship.

    6. And so he asks Peter, "Do you LOVE me?"

    7. Most of you will know that the word that Jesus uses is that wonderful word "Agape"

(Ill.) Martin Luther King understood what Jesus meant by Agape Love. He once said that "Agape (love) means understanding, redeeming good will for all persons. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart."2 It is the unconditional love that has its origin in our relationship with God.

    1. Three times Jesus asks Peter, "Do you LOVE me?" Three times he asks Peter, "Do you love me with the unconditional love that only God can give?"

    2. Jesus understood that loving God, must begin in a person's heart. It is true for us and it was true for Peter.

  1. We love Jesus with WHAT WE SAY

    1. Jesus was seeking to discover the state of Peter's heart.

    2. But Peter is not, at least initially, up to it. Jesus asks Him "Do you love me unconditionally?" But Peter's response indicates that he cannot, at least yet, respond in the positive. You see, he switches the word – when he replies, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He uses a Greek word that is a substantially weaker than the Agape love that Jesus.

(Ill.) If you are familiar with the nick name of Philadelphia – "the city of brotherly love" – you are already familiar with the word that Peter uses. Phileo is the Greek word to express the love between two siblings – "Brotherly Love".

(Ill.) I know that we are six months away from the football season, but there is a wonderful story told by a long time sports announcer who worked for local radio stations across the United States and Canada. On this one particular night, Jim Turner had the responsibility of covering the 100th meeting between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Now these two teams basically lived down the road from each other and over the years the rivalry had grown intense. Today's gave was scheduled for 6:00 PM at Packer stadium and, because they both were in Green Bay on Sunday morning, members of each team decided to go to church. So, on Sunday morning, sitting in St. Willibrod's Catholic Church were George Halas and other "monsters of the midway". On the other side of the aisle sat Vince Lombardi and others from the Packer team. Paul Hornung who played for the Packers at that time, sat in the front row. Ironically the sermon that morning was on "brotherly love". And these two teams know what brotherly love was all about. It was good to be in God's house with God's people. They were truly brothers. But the priest knew that brotherly love was not unconditional – for as he came to the end of his sermon, he turned to those from the Packer team and ended with the punch-line: "Now go out and beat those Bears." You see, brotherly love has limits – and for those players, that day, one of those limits was the green grass of Lambeau Field.3

    1. Now, brotherly love is important – and Jesus understood that. So even though Peter cannot give a totally affirmative response to Jesus, Jesus can still turn to Peter and say, "Feed my lambs"

    2. But Jesus still wants to know if Peter has and unconditional love for him, so he asks again, "Do you love me?" And Peter responds in a similar fashion. And again, Jesus commissions Peter to "Take care of my sheep."

    3. But Jesus is going to push a bit more. So for a third time he asks, "Do you love me?" Finally, Peter gets it. He answers from his heart – "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you!" and this time he uses the same word that Jesus used, he says that his love is the Agape love that has its origin in our relationship with God.

    4. I don't think that Peter was changed in that conversation – but because his heart was right, he was finally able to say what he felt.

(Appl.) When we love God with all our heart, then what we say will demonstrate that love. It will come out in our interaction with God, it will come out with our interaction with the Church, and it will come out in interaction with all those who cross or path throughout the day.

    1. Let me ask you the question that Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Jesus?"

  1. We love Jesus with WHAT WE DO

    1. Not only are our Heart and our Words changed, but how we live our live will also change.

    2. Jesus makes that clear in His conversation with Peter – listen again to the instructions that Jesus gives to Peter:

      1. Feed my lambs

      2. Take care of my sheep

      3. Feed my sheep

    3. Unless our faith impacts what we do, then it really makes little difference at all. Unless our faith allows us to see our world and respond to our world as Jesus would, we are missing the point.

(Ill.) One of the place I check regularly on the Internet is CNN – and I ran across an editorial piece by Roland Martin. Roland is Black Christian who is a Talk Show host on a Chicago radio station. More recently, he has begun a series of editorials on the CNN cable network. Too often, he wrote this week, the church has strange responses to the world in which we find ourselves: Poverty? Whatever. Homelessness? An afterthought. A widening gap between the have and have-nots? Immaterial. Divorce? The divorce rate of Christians mirrors the national average, so that's no big deal.4

    1. I suppose I could respond by saying so what. Let me suggest way in which it could make a difference. Many of you know that there is a lady who comes to most of our dinners who, as she finishes her meal, starts hiding extra rolls or food into her purse. I was challenged this week to ask what would Jesus would do if this woman crossed His path. You know what he would do? He would feed her – he would invite her back into the kitchen and offer her more.

    2. Are you willing to be the face of Jesus? Are we, the members of Garland United Methodist willing to be the face of Jesus to our community?

Conclusion: As believers, we need to learn to love – both those around us and Jesus.

  1. It will impact our hearts

  2. It will impact what we say

  3. It will impact what we do

How will Jesus impact you this week?


1Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (412). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Martin Luther King, Jr. found in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (636). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

3Based on a story found in Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (169). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


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