April 11, 2016

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

In 1964 the Supreme Court was asked to rule on a case regarding pornography (Jacobellis v. Ohio). As the court struggled with what constituted pornography Justice Potter Stewart made the now famous observation, “I know it when I see it.” His Clerk at the time, Alan Novak, commented on how this came about in an article from the Wall Street Journal: “After several days reviewing with the other court members the materials related to the ’63 Term pornographic materials, Justice Stewart came to the office for a Saturday stint of opinion writing. I was there alone when he arrived, and we visited together to discuss his reaction to the case. . . . I had been a Marines officer; he a Navy officer. We discussed our experiences with material we had seen during our military careers, and discovered we had both seen materials we considered at the time to be pornographic, but this conclusion was arrived at somewhat intuitively. We agreed that ‘we know it when we see it,’ but that further analysis was difficult.”  Peter may have had difficulty defining what he meant by saying he loved Jesus. We might have difficulty saying what we mean by it, but at the deepest levels of our hearts we know whether or not we love Jesus and that is what makes it such an absorbing question. It is emotion but not just sentimentality. It is submission but not just thoughtless obedience. It is asserting certain things to be true but not just abstract affirmation. Writers and poets have worked on defining and describing love throughout the ages. You are welcome to try also. The bottom line is that you know love when you experience it, either in loving or being loved. So this week have the courage to hear Jesus ask you, “Do you love me?”

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