Sermon Title: Do you love me more than these?”
Text: John 21:15-19
Brief summary (what’s the point of this text/sermon?)
As you know, our 2018 theme is “Love God. Love People. Change the World,” and Sunday we continued this emphasis by studying Jesus’ post-resurrection interaction with Peter. Just a few weeks earlier Peter had infamously denied any connection to Jesus and had almost certainly been dealing with overwhelming guilt and regret since then. Corresponding to Peter’s denial of Jesus three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. In the sermon we focused primarily on the first question: “Do you love me more than these?”
Bible students debate what the word “these” refers to, and we don’t know for sure. Perhaps the ambiguity is intentional, though, leading us to wrestle with the things we’re tempted to love more than Jesus. Elsewhere in Scripture we read writers referring to competitors like money, self, the world, and even family.
After looking at John 21 and briefly considering the competitors mentioned elsewhere, we used the question as a springboard for application to our church family. What is your “these”? What do you love more than God? Power? Money? Sex? Recognition? Approval? Security?
All of us are tempted to find our sense of identity and value in something besides our relationship to Jesus, so hopefully God will use this lesson to probe our hearts for these temptations.
How do I live out the implications of this passage? (Discussion starters to help with applying the sermon to our lives)
- What kind of emotions do you think were filling Peter’s heart as he approached the campfire that morning? How do you feel when you know that you’ve disappointed the Lord?
- We read the words that Jesus spoke to Peter, but what tone do you think Jesus used when he spoke them? Did he communicate disapproval or disappointment? Or love, forgiveness, and compassion? Or something else? How would he speak them to you if you were sitting across the campfire from him?
- The sermon mentioned four competitors for our affection that are specifically mentioned in Scripture. Discuss how each of these tempts Christians today.
- World (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Timothy 4:10)
- Self (2 Timothy 3:2-5; Luke 14:25ff)
- Money (2 Timothy 3:2-5; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Luke 12:13-21)
- Family (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:25ff)
- What is your “these”? The sermon mentioned three questions that help us determine what we’re tempted to love more than Jesus. Discuss each of these.
- What—if you lost it—would devastate you?
- What brings you the greatest joy in life?
- Where do you turn for your sense of identity, self-worth, and value?
- In view of the above questions, what are the things/people/ideas that we tend to love more than we love Jesus?