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“What Wondrous Love is This, O My Soul?”
“Peter, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.”
February is known as a month of “love” because Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the month. Often, today, promises of love are tomorrow’s casualties to selfishness. Such was the case for Peter. He had boldly proclaimed that he would never deny Jesus. But then Jesus was arrested. Peter feared for his personal life. He denied Jesus three times. He claimed to have never known Jesus. The rooster crowed.
After Jesus died, after Jesus rose, Jesus went to Peter, not to condemn him but to restore him.
“Peter,” He asked, “do you sacrificially, unconditionally, decisively love me?” Peter responded, “Lord, You know I love you like a brother.”
Peter could not bring himself to make the unconditional commitment of love to Jesus. Our English
translations miss the fact that Peter responded with a different word for love when he responded
to Jesus’ question. Peter knew he had denied Jesus. He could not make an unconditional commitment to Him even after the resurrection. He was afraid that he would not live up to the promise of that kind of love.
Jesus asked him again, “Peter, do you love (agape-the word for unconditional, sacrificial, decisive love) me?” Peter once again responded, “Yes, Lord, I love (phileo—brotherly love) You.”
The third time Jesus asks, He meets Peter where he is at. He asks, “Peter do you love (phileo) Me?” Peter responds, “Yes Lord, I love (phileo) You.”
Jesus makes the commitment we cannot. Our love is imperfect, often superficial, and usually unable to sacrifice in order to bless someone else. Jesus’ love for us is perfect. It is decisive-it acts even if it doesn’t feel like it. It is unconditional—it embraces the other even if they don’t deserve it. It is sacrificial—it pays the price necessary to bring blessing to the other person no matter how high that price might be.
No wonder the hymn writers exclaims, “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that used the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul?”
I pray you always marvel at Christ’s love for you and dwell in that love every day during this month of “love!”
Pastor Rick