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The Third Question
by Terry Barlow
08/27/12
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When Jesus asked Peter the third time "do you love me?" meeting him literally on Peter's own terms in John 21 (Peter's term for love differed from the higher level term Jesus used) it hurt Peter. Like a physician or surgeon must often hurt a patient, even when painkillers are in use, to correct a condition: in this case, that he loved him less than he thought. So too out of his love for us must Jesus sometimes gently inflict a painful truth in place of some exaggerated overblown idea we have of our degree of love for him or our devotion and commitment to him or someone else important to us. "Gently?" you might ask. (Jesus is stern or firm when he has to be, but never harsh. Jesus nudges but never nags.) It is an exquisite pain that brings us closer to the truth about ourselves at that particular time in that particular relationship. It doesn't have to remain the truth either, especially if we face up to it. So it's true, illogical as it sounds, that we love Jesus both less and more than we realize depending on the situation. And certainly each of us is loved by him far more and deeply than we realize or may ever realize.

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