by Manuel Rodriguez II
(based on the sermon delivered by Rev. Jeffrey Gatdula at the UCCP - Cosmopolitan Church)
John 21: 15-19
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
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.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus asked Peter: “Do you truly love me more than these?” As Jesus asked that question, he went straight to the matter of the heart.
That question put a shame on Peter and unto us as well. The question to Peter is still being asked by the Lord to us now, “Do you truly love me more than these?” To rephrase the question Jesus asked it says: “Am I of second importance to you?”
Who is God to us anyway? In the question to Peter let me emphasize on the adverb truly.
Peter was asked by the Christ three times. Biblical scholars say that if a phrase, word or sentence in the Scriptures is mentioned three times it means that it is emphasizing itself.
In asking that question to Peter (and to us) it should be clear that God wants us to know what’s inside of us. Most of the time people are being blinded, we thought we love someone but the truth is we don’t. We should be honest to ourselves.
God is all knowing, He knows the answer to His question. He is asking the question not for Him to know the answer but for us to know what is inside of our hearts.
As always, His grace allows us to see his presence. But more than His presence, the conversation between Jesus and Peter allowed us to see beyond His presence. It allowed us to see the passion of Jesus.
God want also His heart to be revealed to you. His passions. His ideas.
God is not just concerned whether you love Him. He is also concerned in sharing to you His heart.
What is the passion of Jesus? It’s the people!
The Bible says that the heart of Jesus cries out for the people. Let us remember the lepers, the tax collectors, the prostitute, the poor people and etc. His heart cries out for all.
That passion is what he wants to share with us.
“Feed my lambs.”
“Take care of my sheep.”
“Feed my sheep.”
If we have truly seen the Lord, then we have seen His heart. If we have truly seen the Lord, then we have also his passion.
For Jesus…people matters. Not programs. Not ministries.
Jesus came to this world not to put up a program, not to put up a religion, not to establish an activity and etc. but to show His passion.
Do we care for the things that Jesus is caring about? Are we willing to exchange our personal interest for the One we love?
And if we look at the heart of Jesus, we’ll see ourselves inside because He cares for us. You were once lost but now you’re found. He is passionate about you.
This is the message He wants to share to Peter, and to all of us.
Our love to God is always translated to our love to the ones around us because the passion of Jesus is for the people. That should be the obvious lesson of the passage.
His heart cries out for you and me. He cares for the eternally significant.
My prayer is that we will be passionate to the people around us and care for what Jesus care, the eternally significant things.
Respond to love because that is the passion of the Lord. Is it easy for me to say? Yes I know, but not impossible because of Jesus Christ.
Think about the fishermen, the prostitute, the tax collectors, the unschooled, the criminals and etc. Jesus loved them all. We too should.
May we have the same passion with our Lord.
By Manuel Rodriguez II
(Based on the sermon by Rev. Jeffrey Gatdula delivered on April 9, 2011 at Forest Life Resort, Silang Cavite on the occasion of the retreat for the young adults of UCCP-Cosmopolitan Church with the theme “I Retreat, I Surrender.”)
What is “retreat”? The dictionary gives us clear meanings of the term. The word retreat means –to move back or to withdraw. Another definition is to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place or to change one’s decision, plans or attitude.
What is “surrender”? We know that in this life “surrender” is something difficult to live at. It is defined as -- to cease resistance or to abandon oneself entirely to a powerful emotion or influence.
The word “surrender” traces its root from Anglo-Norman. It is a combination of two words namely “sur” and “render.”
“Sur” means superior or excellent, it is where we get the English term “super” which means the same thing. “Render” simply means to give. Ergo “sur-render” literally means super-giving or excellently submitting.
The question now is…are we really “super-giving” as far as the Lord is concerned?
The central to the word “surrender” is our “will.”
Our “will” is a deliberate or fixed desire or intention. It is fixed. It is etched in stone and indelibly written. By analogy in the legal parlance “the last will” of the deceased as a rule cannot be modified.
As we recall in the life of Jesus, he mentioned the phrase “thy Kingdom come, thy WILL be done…” Hence, we can conclude that the Kingdom is the “will” of the Father. Where the “will” of the Father is happening, the Kingdom is present thereat.
God wants us to live “His will” for us instead of “our will” for ourselves. God wants us to experience “His Kingdom.”
In John 18:36 Jesus mentioned that the Kingdom is not of this world. When “God’s will” come upon us…everything changes…even the fixed ones.
Because his Kingdom…A.K.A. “His will” is more supreme. There is always fear when we are not submitting to the will of the Father.
Hebrews 9:16-17 says “in the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.”
The verse talks of “the last will.” Nowadays, we need not be legal experts to know that such document has no effect when the testator is still alive, thanks to telenovelas of primetime TV.
“The last will” is similar to the will of the Father; it cannot materialize unless we die.
What kind of death does it talk about? Definitely, not on its literal sense. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul said “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” It means dying to self, making old selves 'dead'…and letting God take over, and live in us.
“Surrender” means death. And I must admit that it is not easy. This is the struggle that we face every single day. But we Christians should fret not, for we do not struggle in vain for the Holy Spirit will surely help us.
“Teach me to die to myself every day of my life” must be a part of our daily prayer because unless we die, “God’s will” shall not live.
Losing our lives for him is gaining everything.
Are we ready to lose our lives and give up our desires?
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.