What is the most important part of your relationship with God? Jesus asked Peter that question in four words beside the Sea of Galilee: “Do you love Me?”
Seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? That’s what Peter thought.
After breakfast, as the day began to brighten, Jesus called Peter by the same name as when they had first met. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15).
Easy question, right? Jesus could have taken Peter anywhere to ask this. But He took Him to Tabgha for a reason.
He takes you there for the same reason.
Not How—But Why
Jesus could have taken Peter back many places for this question. Bethsaida might have worked. After all:
- Bethsaida would have reminded Peter that successful life and ministry comes from constant dependence on Jesus—even when you have only a few loaves and fish to work with.
- At Bethsaida, Jesus had taught them how to live and serve.
But instead, the Lord wanted to remind Peter why to live and serve.
Jesus took Simon Peter back to Tabgha—to the place where their relationship first began. To the place of grace, where a miraculous catch had pulled from Peter a confession: “I am a sinful man!” There Jesus reinstated Peter and reminded him of his purpose.
It’s helpful for us to return to the beginning of our relationship with Jesus. To remember where we were when He found us. That memory can keep us motivated.
Where does the motivation come from? Jesus answered that with a question.
Do you love Me?
Even after we have followed Jesus for years, the motivation doesn’t change. And when it does, Jesus reminds us what He told the Ephesian church:
I have this against you, that you have left your first love. —Revelation 2:4
Remember what the Lord said is the greatest commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. —Matthew 22:37
The Lord Jesus points to our first love for Him as the hub from which every other activity should flow.
- Have we grown so much in knowledge and service that our love for Jesus has grown cold?
- Has the Great Commission replaced the great commandment (Matthew 22:36-38)?
Our serving God should never replace our love for Him (John 15:5). Instead, our devotion should fuel our serving.
“Do you love Me?” Jesus already knows our answer. But He asks so that we may know.
For therein lies our motivation for all we do.