Do You Love The Lord More?

John 21:15-19


Since His resurrection Jesus has appeared to his disciples in different settings, this being the third time “Jesus showed himself to his disciples…” (21:14). After a long night of fishing, unsuccessful fishing, Jesus appears “at the Sea of Tiberias” (21:1), standing on the shore he instructs Peter and the others to cast their net “on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish” (21:6). This catch yielded 153 large fish, the net being pulled onto the shore and did not break the net. This scene sets the stage for our text. It is early morning the men have dragged their catch to shore and now Jesus invites them to “come and eat breakfast” (21:12). It is what happens after breakfast that is of interest to us this evening because Jesus asks Peter three questions, all of which are the same question, and questions we can ask ourselves in the Lord’s absence.

I. “Do you love Me more than these?” 21:15

A. The initial question leaves us a little uncertain as to what exactly Jesus means when he says “more than these.” There are several possibilities:

1. It could have been Jesus was asking, “Do you love Me more than the others love Me?” Peter could not answer a question like that because he did not know the hearts of the others as Jesus did.

2. Jesus could have been asking, “Do you love Me more than you love these disciples?”

3. He could have been asking, “Do you love Me more than your occupation of fishing, your boat and all you tools?”

B. Why is the question asked three times?

1. Several references believe this to be Jesus’ way of giving Peter an opportunity to rectify a grievous error he recently committed, that being his denial of Jesus.

2. If you recall Peter was the one who had confessed that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Mt. 16:16

3. He also made bold statements to Jesus concerning his personal devotion, “Peter answered and said to Him, even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble…Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!!” Mt. 26:33,35

4. Peter is given a chance with this triple confession of his love for the Savior to repair the damage done when he denied the Lord.

II. Different Usage of Terms for the Word Love

A. Jesus uses the Greek verb agapao

1. Adam Clarke sates that this is to “love affectionately, ardently and supremely. (Vol. V, pg. 662)

2. Thayer defines it – “when used of love to a master, God or Christ, the word involves the idea of affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, grateful recognition of benefits received…denotes to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above other things, be willing to abandon or do without it…” (pg.3-4).

B. Peter on the other hand uses the Greek verb phileo

1. Clarke says this signifies, “to love, to like, to regard, to feel friendship for another.” (Vol. V, pg.662)

2. Thayer defines it – “to love, to be friendly to one (pg.653)

3. We would define it as brotherly love.

C. Why the contrast in words?

1. Some people believe that John uses both words to give us a sense of complete love, especially to reveal to us the completeness of our love toward the Lord.

2. However, if you look at Peter’s responses to each question he appears to be timid or modest not as bold as his previous professions of devotion as recorded in Matthew’s account.

a. It is possible that Peter is being more cautious with how he affirms his love after denying the Lord three times.

b. Clarke makes this remark about Peter, “This was a kind of reproach to Peter: he had professed a more affectionate attachment to Christ than the rest; he had been more froward in making profession of friendship and love than any of the others; and no one (Judas excepted) had treated the Lord so basely…” (Vol. V, pg. 662)

3. To the Lord’s query he gives a more modest reply, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

a. Three times he is asked and three times he replies in the same manner.

b. If in fact Jesus was asking if he loved Him more than the others loved him Peter was careful in his response and omitted “more than these.”

4. If the Lord were to ask us the same question how would we respond?

III. Personal Application

A. When we confessed Jesus’ name and were baptized for the remission of our sins we were professing our love, devotion and willingness to serve Him the rest of our lives.

1. We sing a song “More love to Thee O Christ, more love to Thee.”

2. Do we really mean it when we sing it?

B. Do we love the Lord more than our families?

1. If we do we will not let them keep us from obeying the gospel!

2. If we do we will be willing to leave the religion of our ancestors when it is proven to be wrong and follow the pattern set forth in the NT!

3. We will not allow family to prevent us from worshipping, attending services or proclaiming the gospel message. READ Mt. 10:34-39

C. Do we love the Lord more than our earthly possessions?

1. If we do we will not be covetous. (Used in a previous lesson)

2. If we do we will not make the pursuit of wealth our primary objective in life, but will lay up treasure in heaven for ourselves. Mt. 6:19-20

3. If we do we will not divide our devotion between God and Mammon, Mt. 6:24, but will seek first the kingdom of God.

4. We will not forfeit our souls, “For what profit is it to a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mt. 16:26

D. Do we love the Lord more than pleasure?

1. There is a constant battle going on inside of each of us it is the war between the flesh and the spirit. The one who loves pleasure more than the Lord is losing the battle for his soul!

2. If we love the Lord more we will set aside the self-seeking desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:19-21

3. Paul warned Timothy there would be perilous times when men would be “lovers of self…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Tim. 3:1-5

4. All of these things will hurt if not ruin our influence for Christ.

E. Do we love the Lord more than the praise of men?

1. If we do we will be willing to stand firm for the Lord and what is right in his sight! Even if it means standing alone.

2. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Jn. 12:42-43

a. We will not cave in to peer pressure!

b. Evil companions that corrupt good habits will not influence us. 1 Cor. 15:34

c. It may mean severing relationships that are more harmful to the salvation of our souls than helpful.

F. It all means to be truthful with ourselves when we answer the question “Do you love the Lord more than these?” because he already knows your heart!


The Lord reigns supreme, He should be the supreme object of our love and affection. Matthew records these words of Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Mt. 22:37

Give him your life, your love and your complete devotion today!

By Bryan Loughmiller

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