Our Lord Jesus Christ said to the Apostle Peter, after He rose from the dead. Three times He asked him the question, "Simon, son of Jonas, Do you love Me?" (John 21:15–17). The occasion was remarkable. He meant gently to remind His erring disciple of his thrice–repeated fall. He desired to call forth from him a new confession of faith, before publicly restoring to him his commission to feed the church. And what was the question that He asked him? He might have said, "Believe you?" "Are you converted?" "Are you ready to confess Me?" "Will you obey Me?" He uses none of these expressions. He simply says, "Do you love Me?" This is the point, He would have us know, on which a man’s Christianity hinges. Simple as the question sounded, it was most searching. Plain and easy to be understood by the most unlearned poor man, it contains matter which tests the reality of the most advanced apostle. If a man truly loves Christ, all is right; if not, all is wrong.
Would you know the secret of this peculiar feeling towards Christ which distinguishes the true Christian? You have it in the words of John: "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). That text no doubt applies specially to God the Father. But it is no less true of God the Son.
A true Christian loves Christ for all He has done for him. He has suffered in his stead, and died for him on the cross. He has redeemed him from the guilt, the power and the consequences of sin by His blood. He has called him by His Spirit to self–knowledge, repentance, faith, hope and holiness. He has forgiven all his many sins and blotted them out. He has freed him from the captivity of the world, the flesh and the devil. He has taken him from the brink of hell, placed him in the narrow way, and set his face towards heaven. He has given him light instead of darkness, peace of conscience instead of uneasiness, hope instead of uncertainty, life instead of death. Can you wonder that the true Christian loves Christ?
Holiness - J.C. Ryle
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