As Peter warmed himself by the fire in Pilate’s great Hall of Judgment he repeatedly denied ever knowing Christ.
It was a shameful display by a man who had previously stated that he was ready to die with Christ. Peter had failed the Saviour. That terrible sin was followed by bitter tears. His tears of regret were mingled with tears of repentance. It may have seemed to Peter that his days of usefulness and service were over, but that was not the case.
Some days later, after the resurrection, Christ met with His disciples along the shore. As they sat by a fire and dined on food Christ had provided, the Saviour asked Peter about his love for Him. Peter had denied the Saviour three times and three times Christ asked, “Lovest thou me?” On every occasion Peter answered in the affirmative. He did love the Lord. He loved Him more than anything else, loved Him as his Lord and master, loved Him personally and humbly, loved Him for His grace and goodness, and loved Him for who He was and what He had done. Peter really and truly loved the Lord. And it was following his profession of love that Christ commanded him, “Feed my lambs,” “Feed my sheep,” and “Feed my lambs.” The order in that conversation remains very important.
Service for Christ must come from a heart that loves Christ. If love to the Saviour is absent, our service becomes hollow and hypocritical. It is empty and unpleasing to the Saviour. Love melts the heart and moves the hands and feet to do something more for Christ. This being so, we must answer Christ’s question, “Lovest thou me more than these?” While it is possible to leave our first love, it is also possible to recover our first love. Let us love Christ with our whole heart and serve Him with all the strength we have.
“Love is the outgoing of the entire nature in self-sacrificing service.”—W. H. Griffith Thomas