Sometimes our love is not visible enough for it to reassure another person. When this happens, the question, “Do you love me?” must be asked. The most important relationships in life can become damaged. There are lots of reasons for this, but when someone is left wondering if there is still love, something is seriously wrong. The needs of this hurting person have been cast aside and their security has been lost. Can a damaged relationship be fixed?
Stories of Damaged Relationships in the Bible
The best place to look for help for damaged relationships is in the Bible.
Simon Peter, a disciple of Jesus, to his shame and great grief, experienced a time when he was asked this same question, “Do you love me?” It changed his life forever and opened the door to a stronger relationship.
Simon Peter was a favored disciple of Jesus who had become his closest friend, mentor, and hero. Yet after Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Fear for his own safety had kept him silent about his friendship with Jesus. When he realized what he had done, he wept. At this moment, prideful Peter was humbled by his sin.
It is common for people to say things they don’t mean under stressful circumstances. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
A few days later, the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias where a man on the shore told them where to drop their nets to ensure a good catch. They thought it might be Jesus, but until He revealed his identity, they couldn’t be sure. Peter desperately needed to see and speak with Jesus. He wanted to make things right between them. Can you picture the scene? Anxious and ashamed, Peter needed a second chance.
Relationships Demand Transparency: Telling the Truth in Love
After their successful fishing trip, Jesus and the disciples sat down to eat a meal together. Afterward, Jesus and Peter had a conversation… There are times when you know there’s going to be a conversation; you just don’t know when. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt?
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-16 KJV)
Why was Jesus asking the same question over and over? Peter had denied Jesus three times in the hours following his arrest. Each instance had to be discussed and resolved so no uncertainty remained.
Seeing Jesus now, alive, must have been awkward. Peter had revealed himself to be weak. He had violated his own honor code, valuing his life more than helping Jesus. He had been a coward. How galling to discover the appalling truth about oneself. His betrayal of Jesus probably haunted Peter’s thoughts the rest of his days. Yet, it spurred him to go on to become a great man of God. We can’t judge him, because we too would probably have done the very same thing.
How to Heal Damaged Relationships
Acknowledging sin is the first step to healing damaged relationships.
Jesus knew Peter so well, nothing could be hidden from Him. He knew his weaknesses and his strengths. Jesus knows those who are His perfectly too. Yet the question was asked, “lovest thou me?” Peter didn’t have to say it because he knew Jesus already knew his heart. Yet, Jesus demanded he say it – three times, one for each of his denials. Grief must have filled Peter’s heart, his head hung, and his eyes filled with tears of anguish. Then Jesus forgave him.
Forgiveness is the only solution to mending relationships.
*Jesus wanted Peter to take his focus off himself and his own desires.
*Jesus wanted to restore their damaged relationship.
*Jesus forgave Peter.
*Jesus gave Peter a mission: a life of ministry and martyrdom.
What is important to you?
When our lives becomes self-centered, there is no longer any room to minister to the needs of others. Those who are most important to us are often left wondering if they even matter. If we can push others aside, then we can push Jesus aside too.
Relationships require cultivation.
Jesus asks us the question, “Do you love me?” Jesus wants to extend His mercy, grace, and love to all who seek Him for salvation. The first step is to confess sin, placing your trust in Him to bring healing to your soul. Then, Jesus asks you to follow Him. Let Him transform your life and your relationships.