It happened on a beach one day. A Man was feeding some others with grilled fish that had been ‘imported’. He had no fishing pole, no boat, no net. The fish…just…appeared. The men who gathered at the Man’s fire were experienced fishermen and had just hit the mother lode that morning and were dragging in their nets bulging with the greatest catch of their lives. But the story wasn’t about their fish so much as it was the Man who was offering them fish from out of the blue. And not sea-blue, either.
Really, the story is about the Man.
And what He is after.
By now all Bible-o-philes know I’m talking about the Man Jesus. He has finished His work as the atoning sacrifice, the Lamb offered for the sin of the world and days have passed since Resurrection Morning. And now, in glorified Body He sits on the beach, grilling fish, serving His Eleven (even Jesus had people leave His church) and eating with them. You’d think that would be the bulk of the breakfast conversation along with fish out of nowhere but it wasn’t.
There on the lakeshore in the misty morning, Jesus trolls for an Undivided Heart through which He can show Himself strong. He calls out Peter and asks, “Simon (his natural birth name), do you love Me?” Of course the rest of the question includes “more than these” and there are as many interpretations of “these” out there as there are denominations, but I just want to sit on these first five words.
I saw three things about that question this morning. First, Jesus reveals something beautiful about Himself through the question. He reveals that He is very interested in BEING LOVED. Secondly, not only does He want to be loved, He wants that love CONFESSED.
Think of your girl (or your man, as the case may be): when your heart went thump-thump-thump, your hands turned sweaty and your stomach turned cartwheels for her, how private was it? Could you keep it to yourself? Maybe you didn’t announce it to the whole school or even your parents, but you told someone. And dollars to donuts, I’ll bet you declared your undying love to that confidante for her. And when it became official? When she got your ring or letter jacket or jersey? Oh, by then the whole dang school knew! Right?
In other words, you don’t have to be told to spread the news. It’s a strange thing about Jesus, though. We seem to stifle our passion, zip our lips, avert eyes and avoid any conversation that might steer “there”—away from church, that is. I know of some men who take their wedding bands off when they are business travelling. I’ve seen a wife or husband swat their partner’s hand away or fend off an advancing kiss because people were (gasp!) watching.
And then I’ve seen couples doing mouth-to-mouth on each other in a mall, completely oblivious to the passing world around them. Now that’s confessing!
But there’s a third thing I saw from Jesus’ query. Jesus also wants this love to be UNCOMMON. And here I’ll talk about the “problem with ya.”
I have yearbooks where, say, my girlfriend writes a paragraph over her class photo or flyleaf about how much fun I’ve been, how great it is to know me, I’m so sweet, all that hoo-hah. Then she signs off with a “Love Ya!” I started looking over all the other autographs and end-of-an-era fare-thee-wells and was shocked to find that all the other girls who were my friends had also signed off. The. Exact. Same. Way.
When it hit me, I realized my girlfriend may have just as well said, “Sincerely yours” or even “Warmly”—or worse: “Have a great life without me!” I know, I know “love ya!” is fun. It’s sassy. But my juvenile stirrings wanted more than just being her special pal. The ‘ya’ made our relationship seem common, less special. I knew it then: I was in her ‘friend zone’, her insufferable stable of chums.
The Man Christ Jesus is calling His Bride out of the earth, illustrated by His calling out Simon Peter on that Spring morning.
He wants her love.
He wants her to confess their love openly.
And He wants it to be uncommon.
“More than these?” (What? More than the other guys? More than the caught fish? More than the ‘uncaught’ fish? More than the nets? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is: “_________________ (put own name here), do you love Me?”)
It is hard to confess that too often my love letters to Jesus are friendly. Warm. Sometimes (dare I say it?) polite. Oh Lord, for a fiery heart, a flame-engulfed passion, a raging, out-of-(self) control molten River of Undying Love for the Son. May liquid-hot magma overflow the banks of my heart and consume everything in its path that the Glory of the Son might be revealed in me. God, deliver me from a “Love Ya” heart!
And Sandy, my bride on this earth, who daily demonstrates in my personal world what God is doing on a global scale, this marital mini-series of where God is taking all of us, I cannot believe this will be the 28th straight Valentine’s Day we will celebrate together. I’m so happy the LORD has given you to me to love in this lifetime. I’m so glad the ya’s don’t enter into our life’s conversation. (Too often)
I love you.