The Lord prepared breakfast for the disciples. What happened after they finished breakfast? In John 21:15-17 it says, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’” From this passage, we can see that the Lord entrusted His most precious possessions to Simon Peter.
Let’s read the rest of the passage, “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
It’s so precious that the Lord addressed Simon Peter three times by “Simon, son of John.” It’s quite special when someone addresses you three times by your father’s name, not just by your own name. The Lord gave him the name “Peter”, which carried a special meaning. When the Lord gives a name to someone, He is doing it to help that person. However, the Lord called him by his old name “Simon” and his father’s name. Isn’t that special? My father’s name is Yu He Yue. Wouldn’t it be unusual if someone addressed me by saying “Daniel Yu, son of Yu He Yue?” Who would address someone by referencing his or her father’s name three times like this?
I give thanks to the Lord because He lets us know that He knows all about our background. He knows what we were like in the beginning; He knows who our fathers are and how they impacted us. He also knows our future. The Lord told Peter his future when they were beside the Sea of Tiberias. The Lord already knew that Peter would deny him before it happened. He prayed for Peter beforehand so that Peter could stand up again. Peter overcame this failure and the Lord greatly used him on the day of the Pentecost. We should not be affected by our failures in the past, nor the shadows that Satan casted on us. The Lord knows everything about you. He still loves you the most and nothing will change His love for you. He already took away your sins. He has known me since I was a baby. He knew about my father, my family and my upbringing, and He loves me the way I am.
What does the Lord want? He asks, “Do you love me?” He wants you, your heart and love. That’s the reason why He asks, “Do you love me?” How many people in this world care about our love for them? In reality, I’m the one that He wants the most out of everyone in the whole universe. He treasures my love, my response to Him and my life the most. Why did He come to this world to become a man forever and die for me? When the Lord asks, “Do you love me,” it clearly shows that He wants me. He knows that my greatest blessing is to love Him, enjoy His love and respond to Him. He desires my heart to be deeply united with His and for us to love each other. There’s no bigger blessing than this in the whole universe—to enjoy His love and Abba’s love; and to respond to the love of the Father and the Lord. The more you love the Father and the Lord, the more blessed and joyous you will be. But the first and foremost matter is to enjoy His love. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
The Lord came to destroy the work of Satan. Satan uses all kinds of lies and misconceptions to hinder you from knowing God’s love towards you. He slanders God and smears your image and God’s image. He tries to destroy your relationship with God and stops you from drawing close to God, because God will open His heart to you when you draw near to Him. James 4:8 reads, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” We love Him and He will appear to us.
How do you see the Lord? First, we need to overcome accusations from Satan. Because he wants to hold you back, he will continue to accuse you, saying that you’re not good enough and reminding you of your past failures. He wants you to feel that God’s love for you has diminished. However, God knows everything. He still loves you. His love for me is the very flame of Jehovah. “Many waters cannot quench love.” My failures cannot make Him love me any less. Neither can floods drown this flaming love of the Lord. If He would love me less, He could have decided this a long, long time ago. He didn’t have to wait till now.
How do we see the Lord? No matter how many times we have failed, this scripture is very important for us to note: Luke 22. When Peter denied the Lord that night, it’s written in Luke 22:59-62, “And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, ‘Certainly this man also was with Jesus for he too is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.” In this passage, Peter denied the Lord. The Lord used the rooster to remind Peter of what the Lord had said. Other gospel books record how Peter went outside and wept. It’s also written in this passage from Luke as well.
The next part of the passage reads, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” I hope that you treasure these three words “…looked at Peter.” The Lord was arrested just as He had told the disciples. He was unjustly interrogated, whipped, and crucified. Let’s read the last part of the passage, “And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Regarding Peter, there are six words I treasure a lot; three of those words are “…looked at Peter”. When Peter denied the Lord, the Lord turned and looked at him. I believe this is unforgettable for Peter. You can ask the Lord, “When You turned, how did You look at Peter?” Was He angry? If so, I think the Lord could have been angry when He foretold how Peter would deny Him. But the Lord knows everything. It’s very touching. From this, we know that the Lord understood Peter very well. The other three words from the passage that I treasure are, “The rooster crowed.” It’s very meaningful. People wake up when a rooster crows in the morning. Though Peter failed at that time, it was also a turning point for him. It marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life. He learned that he could not just rely on himself or his past experiences with the Lord. Similarly, I also cannot rely on my past years of experiencing and loving the Lord to live my life now. What matters most is how I live with the Lord today, nothing else. I live for Him, and by faith I live to Him.
It is good that the failures of David and Peter are written in the Bible. The goal is to help us and remove our shadow. I have believed in the Lord for many years. It’s not surprising that I have had failures. But, how does He look at me? Like Peter, the Lord knows everything about me. He knows all my hard work and struggles. He knows how I fall and stand up again. He has prayed for me. He knows for sure that I will stand up again and win. He sees how I love Him more and more. In spite of failures, I have joy and continue to strive forward. He sees my eternity. He knows how much I love Him. Big or small, He treasures all my love responses to Him. How does He look at me? He fully understands me. The challenges I face are because I love Him. I strive for Him, and by relying on Him I can overcome. Similar to Peter, I can only say, “Lord, You know that I love You.”
There is no more sin separating me from the Lord. He has already washed away my sins by His blood and I’m whiter than snow. Don’t be deceived by Satan. The devil might say, “You have believed for a long time already so you should not have failed.” No matter what, the Lord loves me just as much as someone who has never failed after believing in Him. What does that mean? Well, I have believed in the Lord for over 60 years. Compared to me, a young believer would not have faced nearly as many trials and tribulations. Of course, this young believer would have failed less than I have. A young believer has not had as many opportunities to fail. Please note that failure is not unavoidable for a believer. When we rely on the Lord continuously, we can be free from failures forever. One of Satan’s lies is that I have more flaws than a young believer does, and that a young believer is more perfect than I am. Is this possible? If so, it would mean that the longer we are in the Lord, the worse we would become. What a pity that would be!
I feel that I’m very blessed. I thank the Lord every day. I have believed in the Lord for more than 60 years, more than half of a century. Many of you were not even born yet when I believed in Him! I feel so blessed because of the love between me and the Lord. If I didn’t have this love and the love history with Him, my life would be more empty than a black hole!
How does He look at me? He knows my struggles. However, as time goes by, your struggles will become fewer and fewer. You will be able to live in His love and count on Him. He sees all things. He sees my eternity. He sees how much my love will grow for Him. My love for Him will exceed what I can imagine today. This is the “me” that He loves. He will not love a different me. He loves and fully accepts me. He opened His arms wide on the cross, embracing me into His manifold love and most beautiful heart.
Hebrews 13:9 reads, “For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” It is only by grace, not by the law, that we can be kings of our lives. Our hearts need to be free. Being free is not being loose. We will love Him more and enjoy Him more. There is no more hindrance when we draw near to Him. It is so precious that we have such a Father and Lord. After the prodigal son squandered his property in reckless living and spent everything, he returned home. When he returned, his father ran to him. How did the father feel about him when he was still a long way off? I believe that the father had been waiting every day for his son’s return. The prodigal son wanted to apologize to the father and asked to be treated as a hired servant. However, the father embraces the prodigal son and kisses him with many kisses. He joyfully holds a big celebration. There is so much joy in heaven and on earth. By using the father and son relationship on earth as an illustration, the heavenly Father wants to express how much more He loves us. Zephaniah tells us that God rejoices over us with gladness. He exults over us with loud singing.