Why do people ask this question? While it may be difficult to establish the exact reason why this happens, due to the complexity of human nature, we can safely conclude that this question seeks re-assurance.
If you walk up to a stranger and ask him or her the question, 'Do you love me?' They would look at you with an expression that says, 'Are you out of your mind?' This establishes one fact; before a person would ask this kind of question from another, there would already exist a relationship.
Having established that a relationship already exists. We move to the next point. Why would someone in a relationship with another seek to know if the other person loves him or her? Ask this question from a group of people and you would get as many answers as the number of people you asked.
The bottom line is that we were made to love and be loved. God’s nature is love. In 1 John 4:8b we read, ‘God is love’.
The basis for the gospel of Christ is love. One of the most popular verses of the Bible is, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Having loved and giving up His life for us, Jesus commands us as His disciples, to love one another. He said by doing this, men would know that we are his disciples. Note that He did not say that people know we are His disciples by praying, fasting or going to church, it is when we have love for one another!
Back to our question, 'Do you love me?' Most often than not, people who ask this question want assurance or re-assurance from the other person they have a relationship with. They want to be sure that their investment in that relationship is not in vain. The motive behind the question may vary from one person to another but the purpose boils down to re-assurance. The interested party wants to walk away with the assurance that they hold an important part in the heart of the other.
Jesus, after His resurrection sat at breakfast with His disciples. They had been chatting, probably sharing some experiences of the past and having a wonderful time with their Lord and Master whom they thought they were never going to see again.
Sometime during the meal, there was a short period of silence, broken by the Lord's direct question to Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15)
I can imagine the stunned look on Peter's face as he reflects on the question. Peter, known to be brash and impulsive, answered the question with care, 'Yes Master, you know I love you". To which Jesus responded, "Feed my lambs"
He asks the same question again and Peter responded in the same way. This time the response was, "Feed my sheep". The same question was asked the third time which upset Peter but he still responded as before.
Note the comparison in that question, ‘more than these?’ This has been interpreted in various ways but I believe the Lord was referring to Peter going back to his trade, which is fishing. He had practically abandoned the mission that the Lord gave him and had acquired the tools of his former trade.
Peter is no different from many of us today. We used to pray regularly, study God’s word continuously and attended regular services when the going was rough. Nothing was too important to take us away from doing the things that draw us to God.
No sooner have our prayers been answered however, excuses start popping up. We become so busy to attend church, prayer becomes something we do at a very fast pace, that is if it is done at all and sometimes we don’t open our Bibles until Sunday when we have to go to church, if the time permits.
The Lord is asking us today, ‘Do you love me more than these?’ Do you love God more than you job, your friends, your family or your bank account? Peter answered wisely, ‘Lord you know that I love you’ (John 21:16)
If the Lord were to ask you the same question, what will your response be? Let us rekindle our love for the Master. There is never a question that He loves us. The question is whether we love Him enough to put Him above everything else.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in Kent, United Kingdom, where he works as an IT Professional. He currently as a Worship Leader in his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online Ministry and Moderator/Editor of the Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org