Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Devotional Thoughts for the Second Sunday After New Sunday

by Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John

Gospel: John 21:15-25

Do You Have A Genuine Love For Christ?

In the Gospel of Matthew, Peter affirmed his absolute loyalty to Jesus by saying, “Even if all will fall away because of You, I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33) Jesus responds by saying, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matt 26:34) Even now Peter was persistent and maintained that he would never deny Jesus; and in fact the rest of the disciples did the same. But Jesus was right. Peter will deny Him three times before His crucifixion. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26 verses 69 to 75, we see that Peter denied knowing Jesus before a servant girl and also before a crowd of people. The prophetic words of Christ came true. When reflecting on these passages, we often pause and wonder how can someone so loyal and devoted to Jesus deny Him at his hour of need. The answer is not simple; nor can we pass judgment on Peter as though we would have behaved differently. In fact, what else did we expect? Did we expect Peter, the great and mighty man, to confess Christ among the crowd in the night of His Master’s betrayal and trial? Peter, like the other disciples, lived with Jesus, was taught by Him, and experienced His miracles, but struggled to follow Christ. In fact we can deduce that his greatest struggle was to love Christ. Therefore, Peter’s denial was not a surprise, because without true and genuine love, no one, not even Peter, can give his life for Christ. Merely having a religious experience, following religious rules or claiming a religious confession, will not give someone the strength to lay down his life for Jesus. It is out of genuine and true love for Christ that someone can be able to give everything for Christ—even his life. This is eventually the realization that Peter will have when Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection.

In the Gospel of John Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee. After a miraculous catch of fish and breakfast in the morning, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15) Each time Peter was asked this question, he responded by saying, “You know that I love you.” (John 21:16) And for each of Peter’s responses, Jesus asked him to either “take care of His sheep,” or “feed His sheep.” Why would the Lord question Peter in this manner? We would think after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Peter would have an unconditional love toward Jesus. But Jesus knew his heart. So Jesus searched and questioned to see how much love Peter loved Him, not because Jesus needed an affirmation of Peter’s love toward Him, but because Peter himself had to come to the realization that He must truly love Jesus in order follow Him. That is why after Jesus questioned Peter He said, “Follow me.” (John 21: 19) Jesus knew that unless Peter came to a self-realization of his love toward Him, he would never be a true follower. However, now with Peter’s confession of love, he was ready to follow his Lord, shepherd the church and eventually give his life for Jesus.

Often we don’t want to admit it, but as Orthodox Christians, we are like Peter, denying Jesus through our actions and words. Moreover, we claim to follow Christ and hold to true Apostolic Traditions, but lack a sincere and genuine love for Jesus. If so, what is the true value of our faith and traditions? There is no value! Real faith and tradition is a natural outworking of genuine love toward Jesus and His Church. It is, however, possible for us to lay hold of this love. To have it rest within our hearts. Like Peter, we must arrive at a self-realization of love toward Christ, that is, realize that in order to follow Christ, we must first love Christ with all our heart, mind and soul. Amen.

See Also:

Restoring Simon Peter
by Rev. Fr. George T, Ireland

Do You Love Me More Than These?
by Rev. Fr. Mathew Chacko

Devotional Thoughts on Second Sunday after the New Sunday
by Rev. Fr. George T, Ireland

Devotional Thoughts for Second Sunday after New Sunday
by Rev. Fr. Mathew Chacko

Devotional Thoughts for the 2nd Sunday after the New Sunday
by Watchman Upon the Wall

Devotional Thoughts for 2nd Sunday after the New Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

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