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A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be My disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become My disciple without giving up everything you own.

Luke 14:25-33

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who He was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to His disciples since He had been raised from the dead.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “You know I love You.”
“Then feed My lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “You know I love You.”
“Then take care of My sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, You know everything. You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

John 21:1-17


More than Anything

Randy K’Meyer

“More than anything, more than anything?”

I don’t know about you, but I have a very difficult time singing that song. That is, when I pay attention to the lyrics, rather than just mindlessly sing them. For when I examine the words, I come face to face with whether or not I really do love Jesus ‘more than anything.’

If Jesus had asked me the ‘more than anything’ question he asked Peter, I too would have evaded His question with my answer, “Lord, you know I love you.”

But did you notice the question was not, “Do you love Me?” If that would have been the question, then our answer would have been a no brainer. All of us would join Peter, “Lord, you know I love you.”

But the question was, “Do you love Me . . . more than these?”

Commentators are divided; some siding with the idea that Jesus is asking Peter “Do you love Me more than these” fishing buddies love Me? And others “Do you love Me more than these” boats and nets?”

Personally, I side with the latter as it fits better with Jesus’ trifecta follow-up: “feed my sheep,” or, “If you really love me like you say you do, prove it by prioritizing fishing for people over fish.”

Or as the song challenges us, do we love Jesus more than worldly wealth? And all the things that worldly wealth procures for us?

And what about the related challenge that Jesus makes in Luke:

If you want to be My disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—
yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple” (14:26).

To get a handle on this, I turned to several Bible commentators.

William Barclay states,

When Jesus said this He was on the road to Jerusalem. He knew that He was on His way to the cross; the crowds who were with Him thought He was on His way to an empire. That is why He spoke to them like this. In the most vivid way possible He told them that the man who followed Him was not on the way to worldly power and glory, but must be ready for a loyalty which would sacrifice the dearest things in life and for a suffering which would be like the agony of man upon a cross.

We must not take His words with cold and unimaginative literalness. Eastern language is always as vivid as the human mind can make it. When Jesus tells us to hate our nearest and dearest, He does not mean that literally. He means that no love in life can compare with the love we must bear to Him. 1

Ivor Powell writes,

The term hate must be interpreted in a relative sense for it was never the will of God that hate should fill the heart of any believer. The idea here is that Christ should occupy the first place in the affections of His followers; that however much one might be endeared to one’s family, they at best, could only take second place to the Savior.” 2

And finally, Darrel Bock has,

The meaning of hate carries a comparative force here. The idea is not that we should hate our family or our lives, but that in comparison to Jesus, if we are forced to choose, the winner in that choice must be Jesus. He is to be loved more than anyone else.” 3

So, what Jesus is talking about in both Luke as well as John is the setting of priorities. What’s more important in life; our relationships with other people and things or our relationship with God? What or who takes first place in our lives? Do we love Him more than anything or anyone?

And, by the way, while we’re at it, what does it mean to say that we love Jesus? I remind you that agape love is not based upon feelings. Jesus is not asking us how we feel about Him. Biblical love is discovering what is in the best interest of the object of our love and sacrificing whatever it takes to make that happen.

And what is in the best interest of our Savior? And the answer is, to help Him see His Kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven. And that happens as His people prioritize our commitment to Him to worship, to grow spiritually, to pray, to serve, to give.

Jesus is talking about priorities and loyalty and commitment; words, dare I say, that seems to be out of vogue in America today.

My dad was a Ford man. For his entire life, he never bought a car that wasn’t a Ford. His father was just as much a Chevy man. I never heard my dad and grandfather argue over who made better cars; that wasn’t the point. The point was they were each in their own way loyal because loyalty and commitment was part and parcel of who they were.

Similarly, there was a day in America when people were loyally committed to certain businesses. In Mogadore, when people needed gas, some were loyal to and always gassed up at either Getter Moore’s Marathon station or Dick Winnom’s Shell Station. You didn’t drive by to see whose gas was cheaper; it wasn’t about money, it was about saying hello to an old friend, knowing at the same time, you were not only putting gas in your tank but also bread on his table.

The same dynamic existed when it came to buying groceries; always Acme over A & P for the K’Meyer clan. And shoes; always the Red Ball Shoe Store in Ellet. Even when my folks were embarrassed to death when my little brother, Steve, upchucked on the salesman’s bald as billiard ball head as he was fitting him for a pair of tennies. And that salesman didn’t get upset, not visibly anyway.

He just calmly took out a handkerchief and began to wipe that amalgamation of spaghetti and meatballs from his head. Guess where my folks went the next time we needed shoes?

Believe it or not, I have heard that there was a time in this nation when as a way of declaring their love for the Lord Jesus for who He is and what He has done, people actually first counted the cost. That is, they considered the sacrifice of time or treasure and then decided that the cause of Christ was a worthy cause to give themselves to, so they committed themselves to worshipping the Lord on a regular basis. Not on a ‘when I feel like it,’ or ‘when I don’t have anything better to do’ basis; but rather, I will set aside one hour every week, as He asked me to, to worship the Lord, who purchased my salvation with His own blood.

Speaking of counting the cost and making decisions of commitment and loyalty; in 1776, 56 men signed something called the Declaration of Independence.

They counted the cost, knowing full well that they were possibly signing their death warrant. But they were willing to sacrifice whatever, even their lives in order to display loyalty and commitment to a higher cause. And, to be sure, many of them paid a high price for their loyalty. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned, two lost their sons in the war, and another two had sons captured, five of the signers were captured by the British and tortured to death and nine of the 56 who fought the good fight gave their lives to the cause.

Thomas Paine was one that signed that glorious document, and who was not only a patriot, but also a writer. To encourage his fellow patriots to continue the fight in a war that they were at one time painfully losing, Paine wrote, “What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.” In other words, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it.

I love to talk about God’s amazing grace; that our forgiveness was bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus when He died for our sins and all we need do is accept it as a free gift. But I fear sometimes that some of us are guilty of trampling all over the flag of His grace; that since all my sins are already bought and paid for, I don’t really need to be concerned with commitment or loyalty to His cause.

The truth is with the acceptance of grace comes great responsibility to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Jesus has offered us the opportunity of a lifetime. He offers us the gift of becoming sons and daughters of the Most High God, enjoying a relationship with Him forever, and participating with Him in bringing His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Like all relationships, following Jesus requires commitment; and all commitments require sacrifice. What are we willing to sacrifice, endure, and bear in order to live the life that Jesus died for?

The other day, I pulled up to a stop light and noticed that the owner of the SUV I was following was clearly a person of deep loyalty. The spare tire mounted on the back had the words “Michigan State” printed above an image of their green mascot Sparty the Spartan. And the license plate frame, much like my own, was bordered with “Michigan State Alumni.” (Not that mine says, “Michigan State Alumni.”) And yet that license plate frame surrounded a State of Ohio license plate.

I assume the owner of this SUV had moved from Michigan to Ohio, but had not yet identified with his new home and had no plans of changing loyalties.

That’s pretty typical human behavior. When we move from one place to another, especially from one state to another, we often go through a slow transition of loyalties to our new home.

And so it is as a Christian. When we come to Christ, the kingdom of God becomes our home, but the kingdom of this world does not leave our hearts easily. The great challenge of the Christian is to overcome divided loyalties and fully identify with God’s kingdom.

So, is this a sermon about old-fashioned values that have outlived their usefulness in the 21st century? Is this preacher in danger of being an antique, a fossil, in challenging us to honor ‘commitment’ and ‘loyalty?’

If calling a gathering of Christians who have been saved by the precious and sacrificed blood of the Lamb to examine our faithfulness to Him and His Church, in hopes that we will renew our pledge of allegiance, our loyalty, our commitment to Christ and His Father’s Kingdom, is considered old-fashioned, then put me out to pasture.

But if you don’t mind me reminding you about these things; if indeed you sense that God is calling you to fall down on your knees before Him to seek His forgiveness for any lethargy and recommit your life to Him in such a way that when He asks you, “Do you love me more than these?” you’ll be enabled by His grace to say, “I love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength” then by all means fall down on your knees and pray!

1 William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Edition, The Gospel of Luke, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Westminster Press, © 1975], Page 196.

2 Ivor Powell, Luke’s Thrilling Gospel, [Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kregel Publications, (C) 1965], Page 327.

3 Darrell L. Bock, The NIV Application Commentary, Luke, [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, © 1996], Page 401.