Sunday, May 28, 2017


JOHN 16:1-15, 5/28/2017
Introduction: A group of Christian disciples in the Church of Ephesus in the First century were asked a question by the Apostle Paul, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Of Course, this group of believers must have heard about the Holy Spirit if they listened at all attentively to John the Baptist, but what kept them in ignorance? The same ignorance is still prevalent in many churches in all denominations worldwide even after 2000 years. Why such unbelief and resistance?
            I grew up in a Lutheran Church, I was sprinkled as a child, was confirmed at age 13. For our confirmation, we need to memorize and recite the apostle’s creed, which goes like this, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. (The Apostles Creed 390 AD, by Ambrose)
            From that day, until age 18, I sincerely, along with my parents and the other members of our church, habitually recited each Sunday saying, “I believe in the Holy Spirit” Yet I just limited the Holy Spirit to the Apostle’s Creed and to the Bible, like the believers in Ephesus, I never realized that the promised Holy Spirit was for my advantage and for my help. When I accepted that truth and opened my heart to the person and the work of the Holy Spirit, my life has never been the same.  I title this message, “I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
            Last week, we learned that Christ consoled the grieving disciples by assuring them that they were not going to be left out as orphans, because he was going to send another helper. He said, that the Helper will be, with them forever and he will be in them. Do you think, the disciples believed everything that Jesus was saying right away? No! they had problems with unbelief. So, he said to them again, “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:29) In the passage we read, he goes on to explain, why he was going away, why then, was he telling them about the Holy Spirit, and what was the nature and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s get started.

            The first four verses talk about what was going to happen to his disciples once he was gone. They will be brought before courts, persecuted and even be put to death. In fact, those who would kill them would think that they were doing a favor to God. Why would they do that we wonder. Jesus said, they will do such things because they have not known the father or him. He went on to say, in Vs 4-5“I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me.” In Vs, 7 he explains the reason why he was going away.
            Vs 7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good (advantageous) that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (helper) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Let’s look at this scripture in detail. “Very truly I tell you” In John Gospel alone there are about 25 times the words, “verily verily or verily truly mentioned. It is funny, when I was typing the MS word program kept showing me to delete the repeated words as if it was a mistake. Why did Jesus use this repeated word, was it a mistake, ran out of words or was he trying to communicate something very important that the disciples must pay attention to?  
                Whenever Jesus used a same word twice to emphasize a certain truth, the emphasis here is whether or not Jesus was telling the truth, but the truth he was telling was significant and important to listen to, and the very lives of the disciples were depended on that truth. In other words, Jesus was saying to his disciples “you must pay close attention to this truth.” What did disciples need to pay attention to? Jesus was going away for their advantage and unless he went away the helper would not come, and when he comes he will guide them into all the truth.  
            The Greek word that was translated here as “advantage” has a range of meanings: “To bring together, to be profitable, advantageous, to conduce and benefit. It was for more than one reason Jesus was going away and promised to send the Holy Spirit (the helper) to be in and with the disciples forever. They must believe and accept this forever promise of truth for their own benefit and survival. Jesus further explained the work and the nature of the Holy Spirit.

            Vs 8-11, “When he comes, he will prove (convict) the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” These scriptures tell us what only the Holy Spirit, and no one else can do these three-exclusive works: In NASB it is translated, “When he comes he will convict.” Conviction here implies not merely the charge, but the truth of the charge and very often also the acknowledgment, if not outwardly, yet inwardly of its truth on the part of the accused. What will the Holy Spirit convict?
            Firstly, He will convict the world and individuals of their sin. What are the two greatest sins of all? One is pride and the other is unbelief? Pride says, I don’t need God I can do it myself. Unbelief says, I don’t believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God’s word the Bible.
            There are many people around the world in spite of divine appearances and intervention of God, and the evidence of changed lives would remain as skeptics and unbelieving. One thing we must realize that apart from the Spirits convicting work, people can never see themselves as sinners. Secondly, the Holy Spirit will convict them about righteousness. There are certain people in this world, who will never admit that they were wrong or they would never do anything wrong. They are always right and everyone else is wrong. Do we see them in the world?
            What does the scripture say about people in general and particularly such people who boast?  The wise King Solomon acknowledged long ago, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” Ecce 7:20. The Apostle Paul reiterated, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12
             These scriptures tell us that no one is sinless, we all have sinned and are found guilty before God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and when we repent of our sins he will cleanse us from all our sins, clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus and present us before God faultless. That has to be the work of the Holy Spirit, and no one will be able to pronounce a sinner guiltless and make him right before God.
            Thirdly, the Holy Spirit convicts the individual believer and the world about the upcoming judgment. God has already pronounced judgment upon Satan who is known as the great deceiver, who is deceiving the world into sin. The Holy Spirit shows us what will happen to Satan and to all those who follow him, they all will end up in the fiery lake also called hell. Only when we believe in the Holy Spirit, will we believe these truths, because they are the exclusive works of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at the nature of the Holy Spirit.

            In many churches, when it comes to God the Father, and His Son Jesus there is reasonable acceptance and agreement among them, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, there seems to be so much misunderstanding, misinformation and controversy. I wonder why? Moving away from the controversies surrounding the third person in the Trinity, namely the Holy Spirit, I want to share what I believe the Bible says about the nature of the Holy Spirit.
            During my ministry experience I met a lot of genuine believers, who struggle with how to address the Holy Spirit. "Is the Holy Spirit a "He," "She," or “It,” male, female, or neuter?"
In the passage we read alone, Jesus, referred the Holy Spirit as “He (14 times). There are many more scriptures that address the Holy Spirit as “He” There is no evidence in scripture where the Holy Spirit is referred as she or it, therefore we can safely assume and call the Holy Spirit, “He”
            Let’s look at the other aspects of the Holy Spirit:  He is the Spirit of truth, he is our guide, he is humble and only speaks what he hears from the father, he remains in the background and elevates and glorifies Jesus. He reveals to us what he receives from Jesus. He will show us the things that are yet to come. In other places, we see him as: counselor, helper, advocate, teacher, miracle worker, and intercessor. He is mighty, powerful and yet gentle and gracious.
            The Holy Spirit is a person, so he has emotions, he relates to people as a person. He can be resisted, grieved, lied to, blasphemed and insulted. Above all these natural attributes he is the third person in the Trinity, that puts him equal with God. Therefore, we need to regard him and address him as God the Holy Spirit. So, far I have shared with you all these exclusive, claims and wonderful attributes of the Holy Spirit that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. But none of these means anything and have an impact on you unless you really believe in the Holy Spirit.
            In the beginning, I shared with you my personal journey of faith, and how I evolved in my belief in the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt in my mind I believe in the Bible, and I also believe what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. I have personally experienced the presence, the power and continued working of the Holy Spirit in my life over and over again. I also have seen the same in the lives of many believers. What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit is very true, but what matters is that do you believe and appropriate this truth for your personal life?
            In closing, I want leave you with a few questions, during the week before the Pentecost. Do you limit your understanding of the Holy Spirit only to the scriptures and your church tradition? Or you really believe in the person, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Would you open up your heart and acknowledge his presence in your life and yield yourself to his continued work of sanctification and transformation? Would you long to be lead and guided by the Holy Spirit in you day to day life? If you are sincere, the Holy Spirit will reveal himself to you, will help you, teach and guide you into all the truth. My prayer is that, we all will say, affirmatively, without a doubt, Yes, We Believe in the Holy Spirit! Amen

Sunday, May 21, 2017


John 14:16-26 (5/21/2017)
Introduction:  Author Keith Miller tells of an outgoing 40-year-old woman who was part of a sharing group he led. Here is her story: "When I was a tiny little girl, my parents died and I was put in an orphanage. I was not pretty at all and no one seemed to want me. But I longed to be adopted and loved by a family as far back as I can remember. I thought about it day and night, but everything I did seemed to go wrong. I must have tried too hard to please the people who came to look me over and what I did was to drive them away.
            "But then one day the head of the orphanage told me that a family was coming to take me home with them. I was so excited that I jumped up and down and cried like a little baby. The matron reminded me that I was on trial and this might not be a permanent arrangement, but I just knew that somehow it would work out.
            "So, I went with this family and started to go to school. I was the happiest little girl you can imagine, and life began to open up for me just a little. But then one day a few months later, I skipped home from school and ran into the front door of the big old house we lived in. No one was at home, but in the middle of the front hall was my battered suitcase with my little coat thrown across it. As I stood there it suddenly dawned on me what it meant---I didn’t belong there anymore."
            Miller reports that when the woman stopped speaking there was hardly a dry eye in the group. But then she cleared her throat and said almost matter-of-factly, "This happened to me seven times before I was 13 years old. But wait, don’t feel too badly. It was experiences like these that ultimately brought me to God---and there I found what I had always longed for---a place, a sense of belonging, a forever family." What a touching story of an orphan, how eventually found a home in God’s loving family.
            According to UNICEF there is an estimated 140 million orphan children in the world are looking for homes. What should be our response? Did you know that God cares for each one of them to find a home? If we care to admit, each of us have a longing for a home, a sense of belonging to a forever family. No, one likes to live like an orphan in this hostile world. We have been looking at the final words and ministry of Jesus before he was taken up into heaven. On one of such occasions Jesus consoled his heartbroken disciples who had learned about him going away. They couldn’t bear the thought of how he could just leave them, in a cruel world. To ease their angst, he promised to send them “Another Helper.” John 14:16-26

            Vs 18, “I will not leave (forsake) you as orphans; I will come to you.” Why did Jesus refer them to orphans? You and I may never understand the struggles of an orphan child unless we ourselves have been orphaned. I read an article that highlighted 4 struggles of orphan children.1. Children living without loving parents often experience more difficulty expressing their needs and emotions. 2. Children living as orphans go through a lack of sense of security and stability. 3. They lack nurture and support. 4. Children without parents will have to work much harder to develop social skills and achieve higher grades in school.
            The article ended with these words, “For both children with parents and those without, the unconditional love of the Father is unending. God sees them, hears them, and knows the desires of their heart. Every child everywhere is deeply loved by God, and nothing can ever change that.”[1] That is the heart of God for every child but also for adults though they seem to have everything may live like orphans, that includes the followers of Christ who live like spiritual orphans. God has always assured his people of his ever-abiding presence.
            Here are the parting words of Moses to his successor Joshua:The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 God reaffirmed that promise to Joshua again after the death of Moses, “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 Coming back to Jesus’ disciples, for them following Christ meant leaving everything:  behind, their families, parents, known profession including abandoning their very own lives.
            They were willing to let go of everything and follow Jesus. They were affirmed, that God’s ever abiding presence was going to be with them.  And it was so as long as Jesus was with them, but now Jesus was saying to them that he was going to be taken away from them.
            Can you imagine the anguish of an orphan child who once was homeless, but has then been adopted into a family, only to be abandoned again? That may have been the underlying feeling of the disciples. In that context, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” How was he going to keep that promise?  Was he going to come back physically and be with them? To find answers let’s look at verses 16&17.

            Vs 16-17,I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” What was Jesus referring to when he said, “Another Helper’? Let’s look at these words. In the Greek language, the word used for the Holy Spirit is, “Parakletos.” It has been translated as, ‘Comforter’, Intercessor, Interpreter, Preacher, and either Prosecutor or Defense Counsel. The basic meaning of the word is, Para means “beside” or alongside, and Kaleo meaning to call or to summon. If you put these words together, it refers to, “someone who is called alongside to help.”
            It has the idea of someone who encourages and exhorts. What is the meaning of the word, “another”? The Gr. word specifically means “another of the same kind” i.e., someone like Jesus Himself who will take His place and do His work. The Spirit of Christ is the Third Person of the Trinity, having the same essence of deity as Jesus and as perfectly one with Him as He is with the Father. Recently we undertook major cleaning operations in our Church. One Saturday, several of us worked so hard the whole day, by the end of the day got tired, exhausted yet determined to complete the work for that day, then suddenly showed up two extra helping hands, “other helpers” I am sure the exhausted crew must have been delighted and relieved by that extra help. We all could take some extra help, can we not?
            Similarly, at times our spiritual journey gets tiring, and exhausting. There is always so much to do, so many people need to hear the gospel, so many new believers to disciple. So many broken lives to be put together. In the Church, the work never seems to end. We grow weary in doing God. We desperately need some help! Recognizing, the enormity of the remaining task and the challenges that come along with it “Jesus said, I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever…He went on further said, “he abides with you and will be in you.”
            What is the pre-requisite of the Helper to come abide with us and reside in us? Jesus went one step further and deeper and said, Vs 23, “If anyone loves me Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode (home) with him.” Anything we do for God should always proceed out of our love for him. God never forces us to do things out of fear of him like in many other religions where people serve God out of fear not out of love. A heart that loves, God and is ready to obey his commandments is the one that receives “Another Helper”  
            What an assuring promise of Another Helper. When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, and express our love for him by obeying his commandments, another Helper, will come to be with us but also makes a home in us. Paul writing to the Corinthians reminds them of the fact that they were no longer of their own, they have been bought by the blood of the lamb and have been given the Holy Spirit to reside in them. “do you not know that your body is a [a]temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20

            What happens when “Another Helper” or the Holy Spirit comes to reside in the heart of a believer? First of all, the work of changing an unbeliever into a believer in Christ has to be the primary work of the Holy Spirit. Without him no one will come to know Christ in the first place. Secondly, since He is called the “Holy” Spirit, he will clean up the things that are unholy and not pleasing to God. What does that clean up look like? It differs from person to person.
            When a person comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he confesses his sins by acknowledging Christ as his savior. In John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In other words, we will be given a clean heart and a fresh start. The resident Helper will continue to help us to live out that inner transformation by letting our light shine in the world through our good works.
            In the passage we read, Jesus highlighted the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Vs 26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” It is for next week. Let me now conclude with these thoughts. The life of a believer begins, is sustained, and empowered by “Another Helper, the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit makes his home in us we are no longer orphans, we have a place, we belong to a forever loving family of God. Amen


Sunday, May 14, 2017


(Matthew 24:1-14)
Introduction:  The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience think this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it. "And so," concluded Kierkegaard, "will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators."[1]
            This illustrates the present reality of the 21st century. On one hand, many in the world are oblivious or skeptic about the impending danger and the coming judgement, but among Bible believing Christians there is a growing sense of impatience and weariness about Christ’s return. History tells us that time and again man has gotten it wrong when it comes to predicting the end of the world. In recent years, there were twelve failed predictions including the one by Harold Camping, the radio preacher who convinced thousands of followers that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011, to usher in the end of the world, in May 21, 2012.
            Well the world is still intact, and Jesus has not yet returned.  In the midst of failed predictions and controversies whose words should we believe? When would be the end of the world? What are the signs of Christ’s return? What sort of people ought we to be in the light of Christ’s imminent return?  Matthew 24:1-14
In the passage we read, we see Jesus leaving the magnificent temple and walking away. But it looks like his disciples were still attached to that glorious sight of the temple. They wanted Christ too share their sentiments so they came up to him calling his attention to its buildings.  Jesus said, “Do you see all these things?  He asked, truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” That must have crushed their hopes, they wanted to know when these things would happen, what would be the sign of Jesus’ return?
            Jesus deals with these questions but does not distinguish them sharply. However, it appears that the description of the last days (which begin with Jesus’ incarnation and end with his second coming) is presented in verses 4–14. The prophecy against Jerusalem’s temple, not one stone . . . left on another was fulfilled literally in AD 70, when the Romans under Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings. Stones were even pried apart to collect the gold leaf that melted from the roof when the temple was set on fire. stone. Excavations in 1968 uncovered large numbers of these stones, toppled from the walls by the invaders.
Let’s look at the other signs that Jesus told his disciples to look for, False Messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, famines, earthquakes, tribulation, persecution of Christians, the falling away of many. Jesus alluded to the fact that these are just the beginning, but the end is still to come. Over two thousand years have passed since Jesus was taken up to heaven, why Jesus hasn’t yet come?

            The Apostle Peter, whom the Lord reinstated and inspired has an answer for us. He wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting any one to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:3-8.
            Thank God, his patience means our salvation. But as surely one day, Jesus will come back as he had promised. However, he has been waiting for “The Sign.”

            Matthew 24:3, what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." When Christ said, the gospel will be preached as a testimony among all nations, and then the end will come, he was not speaking of the geo-political nations as we now know. The Greek word here was, “Ethnos” “Of the 14 times Matthew uses the word ethnos seven times refer to nations, meaning people groups[2]
            Has the gospel been preached to the whole world?  Here are some positive trends in global Christian missions. The Emergence of the Global South: Christianity has grown by more than 300 million believers in the past ten years. Ten million from North America and Europe and 290 million from developing countries like Nigeria, Brazil, India and China. They are the new faces of Christianity. Unprecedented Outreach: 65,000,000 men, women and children hear the Gospel for the first time every year. 178,000 will hear the Good News today for the first time. Every year over 50,000 new churches are started.
            Transition to Non-Western Church: There are now more true followers of Christ in China than in the United States of America. Rise of Latin American, African, Asian Missionaries: Once were missionary receiving nations, now have become missionary sending nations. Messianic Jewish Movement: More Jews have embraced Jesus as Messiah since 1967 when the Jews took control of Jerusalem than in all the years between 100 AD and 1967. Though people are getting saved in great numbers, yet there are still many people groups which have never heard about the name of Jesus.
            In missiology, they are referred to as “unreached people groups.” In other words, the Gospel has not yet penetrated these groups. Who are these groups?  How many ethnic groups are there in the world? Total peoples by Country16,500. How Many People Groups Are Considered Unreached? (Using criteria of less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5% Christian Adherent). Current best estimate: 6,700. Countries with most unreached people groups: India: 2018, China 456, Pakistan 383, Bangladesh, 284, and Nepal 239. In order to educate Western Christians about these unreached people groups, Missions experts came up with a term called, “the 10/40 Window.” What is the 10/40 Window, and its significance?
            “The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia approximately between 10 and 40 degrees’ north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called "The Resistant Belt" and includes the majority of the world's Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.[3] Why must we learn and engage the 10/40 window with the gospel?  It is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world. According to the Joshua Project, there are approximately 16,500 unique people groups in the world with about 6,700 of them considered unreached. If we want to see Jesus come back to earth soon, what must we do?
Several scriptures in the Bible allude to the fact that Christ’s return is imminent and it could happen at any time. In the light of Christ’s imminent return Peter gives us some pointers for us to live by, 2 Pet 3:11-14, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming…. make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” What do these scriptures mean?  Firstly, the present world and everything in it will be destroyed so let’s not pin our hopes on it.  
Secondly, we are not to compromise with sinful life styles but live a pure and godly life.  Daniel says that many will purified, made spotless and refined, do we allow God to do that work in our lives? Thirdly, we are to make every effort to live in right relationship with God. Fourthly, we are to be diligent in reaching the lost, isn’t it interesting the way Peter seems to indicate that we can actually speed the day of his coming by getting intentionally involved in completing the remaining task?  What is the remaining task? We are to be engaging in reaching the remaining 6,700 un-reached people groups in the world. 
How can we be involved? Be informed about these groups. Pray for God to send missionaries among them.  Be prepared to God when God calls you to go. Support missions through financial giving. Befriend the people coming from India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal and other non-Western nations. We find them in our neighborhoods, work places and in our communities. During this summer let’s look for opportunities to invite them to our cookouts, activities and church related events.
In closing, Jesus Christ will not come back until the gospel is preached as a testimony to all nations in the world so, let’s not be carried away, believing anyone who gives you a particular day or date. Don’t take his patience for granted, surrender your life to Christ before it is too late. We have so much to look forward to, the best is waiting for us when we see Him in His glory and His Power but in the meanwhile we have a job to do, so let’s get busy in completing the remaining task. Amen!
For more information on Un-reached people groups contact: For more information contact: Joshua Project PO Box 62614 Colorado Springs, CO 80962 USA


Sunday, May 7, 2017


John 21:15-19, 5/7/2017
After many years, I watched the musical “Fiddler on the Roof “again. Tevye, a man devoted to tradition, finds his thinking challenged when his oldest daughter wants to marry for love, instead of having her marriage arranged by her parents. It had never occurred to him that one would marry for love, and one night he cannot help but ask his own wife the question (in song, of course!): “Do You Love Me?” T: Golda do you love me? G: Do I what? T: Do you love me? G: You’re a fool!  T: I know! But do you love me? G: Do I love him? For twenty-five years I’ve cooked for him, cleaned for him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that’s not love - what is?
            For 25 years, Tevye and Golda had been going through the motions of a loving marriage, without ever thinking about whether they loved one another or not. In this song, Tevye was doubtful whether his wife still loved him, after he couldn’t keep his daughters from breaking the age-old traditions. He wanted to be affirmed, hence the question Golda do you love me?
            A similar question was asked over two thousand years ago by Jesus, it was directed towards his discouraged and depressed disciples. In particular, Peter who once was boisterous, and exuberant in following Christ, now seemed to have lost his first love for Jesus. It looked like Peter and his friends checked Jesus out of their lives. But out of his great love Jesus’ wouldn’t let them go to their own peril, he walked right into Peter’s personal space and confronted him with a question, Peter do you love me, not once but three times. Why did he ask three times?
            Jesus asked not out of doubt, but out of concern and to know whether Peter still kept him as his only true love. Today we will look at the implications of these questions, Peter’s response, and how Jesus reinstated Peter by restoring his first love. We will see this intriguing dialogue between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-19. I title this message: “Jesus Our Only True Love.”
            After they had finished breakfast Jesus and Simon Peter, were engaged in an interesting conversation. Jesus asked Peter a set of three questions. The first question, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?” In Greek two words agape and phileo were used here. Without making any distinction they were simply translated as “love” in the English language. Whereas the Greeks gave a distinct meaning to each of these words. 
            The word agape is translated “Charity” meaning benevolent love. It’s benevolence, however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved. For example, in John 3:16, “For God so loved (agape) the world that he gave… What did he give? Not what man wanted but what man needed as God perceived his need. He gave his Son (Jesus) to bring forgiveness to man. 
            God’s love for man is God doing what He thinks best for man and not what he desires. It is God willfully walking towards man. But for man to show love to God, he must first appropriate God’s Agape, for only God has such an unselfish love. The second word Phileo, is translated, “to love with the meaning of having common interests with another. It is a relationship which exists between two close friends.
            With that background let’s examine the questions. Simon son of John do you love Me more than these? What did Jesus mean by “more than these? This probably refers to the fish (v. 11) representing Peter’s profession as a fisherman, for he had gone back to it while waiting for Jesus (see v. 3). During one of our furlough’s we stayed in Wilma’s sister’s old farm on a river bank. One day I wanted to try fishing, so I let my fishing rod in, sat holding the rod patiently, all of a sudden I felt a tug, I quickly pulled the rod, and there was my first fish, not one by the end I caught three fish, I was so elated.
            For a fisherman, there is nothing that brings more joy than catching fish, in this case Peter got a huge catch of 153 fish, you can only imagine, he must have been elated, jumping up and down with Joy. Jesus wanted to know whether Peter loved him more than he loved fishing. The phrase may also refer to the other disciples, since Peter had claimed that he would be more devoted than all the others (Matt. 26:33). Loving Jesus means forsaking all other loves. So, Jesus asked, “Simon son of John do you love (agape) me more than these? Peter responded, not so emphatically saying “Yes” I love you more than my fishing and all the other disciples, instead he said rather soberly, “You know that I love(phileo) you.”
            Here Peter was not sounding as if he was madly in love with Christ, to an extent that he was willing to forsake all that was familiar and exclusively devoted to being a follower of Christ. But Jesus hasn’t given up on him. He was gently yet firmly moving Peter’s love from the material things, and other relationships to the one and only relationship that mattered the most.
             In Vs,16 we read for the second-time Jesus asking Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me? He answered, “Yes Lord you know that I love you. This time Jesus was going one step further to press home to Peter the need for him to show unswerving devotion. In the past Peter made an overconfident statement but couldn’t live up to his word.
            Remember, after a fellowship meal, when Jesus said, “You all will fall away on account of me…Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, on account of you, I never will. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.” (Matt 26:31-35). When Jesus asked repeatedly, Peter do you love me he used a word which signified total commitment.
            Peter responded with a word for love that signified his love relationship with Jesus as a friend but not necessarily his total commitment. This was not because he was reluctant to make such commitment but because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past, and certainly didn’t want to repeat the same mistake again. Jesus was graciously pulling him away from his guilt so that he would once again love him more than fishing or other earthly relationships. In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to give up all other loves and have him as his only true love.
            Somehow Peter wasn’t getting it and was unable to reach Christ’s high expectation. So, the third-time Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me? This time he lowered the bar a little and used Peter’s word for love (Phileo) which signified something less than a total devotion. This time Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, do you love me? He said Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.
            Why was Peter hurt, not because the Lord asked him three times but perhaps he may have recognized that Christ who knew everything is now looking deeply into what actually been going on in the recesses of Peter’s heart. At this point, Peter represents a discouraged and disheartened believer who once was on fire for the Lord, but due to some foolish actions has denied Christ.
            Now caught in the dilemma of wanting to get back to his first love, but at the same time doubting whether Christ still loved him and whether he will ever be able to regain his lost love.  The good news is, when our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything, including our excruciating agony. He loves us unconditionally in spite of all our short comings. He will come to heal, restore, and entrust his work to us again. Coming back to our story, why did Christ ask Peter three times? 
            Firstly, by repeatedly asking Jesus was reminding Peter of his threefold denial which is now being reversed with his threefold affirmation of love for him.  Secondly, Jesus was pressing for a total commitment from Peter and his followers, so he confronted Peter with love. Thirdly, because he was going to reinstate, and assign to him certain tasks to be an effective shepherd to lead the apostles, and the church that was going to be formed soon. Fourthly, Peter must exemplify his supreme love for the Lord above all others. That kind of commitment was essential if he was going to lead others to Christ. This threefold affirmation of love must have brought healing to Peter’s once troubled heart. Along with that the reinstatement helped embolden Peter to take on the tasks of leading the church forward.
            The threefold restoration process also involved a threefold assignment. Now that Peter was strengthened by Christ’s affirmation his job is to strengthen the brethren. How would he do that? By shifting his focus from fishing to shepherding. Jesus assigned Peter with three specific tasks: “Feed my Lambs” “Take care of my sheep” and “Feed my sheep.” These terms convey the idea of being devoted to the Lord’s service as an under shepherd. Feeding, and tending is not a onetime thing but constantly feeding, nourishing and protecting the sheep.
            Peter was embarking on a noble and humble mission of feeding and nurturing the believers with the word of God and also protecting them from the heresies and false prophets who would try to mislead them away from following Christ. History tells us that Peter became very good at that job of being an under-shepherd. He not only took care of the church, he appointed elders to do the same. Later writing to the persecuted Church Peter conveyed tender heart of a shepherded. I Peter 5:1-4 “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
            Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
            This is a powerful a message for all the elders at Hope Church, for all those in some form of leadership, and others who serve, not because we must but because we are willing. Therefore, let’s be diligent, in doing our Job, when the Chief Shepherd appears we all will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. In closing, let’s reflect, if Jesus were to ask you do you love me more than these, what would be your response?
            We should ask ourselves who our true love is? Where we spend most of our time, energy and resources that becomes our true love. What are some of the things, or relationships we may have to give up so that we can become devoted followers of Christ? Are you discouraged and wondering whether God still loves you? My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will convict us of all the other loves, will restore us and give us the power to keep Jesus as our only true love. Amen