Few other biblical figures give us as wonderful a picture of the grace of God as the apostle Peter. Here was a man who walked with Jesus while He was on earth, being among the very first to recognize Him as the long-awaited Messiah (Mark 8:27–30). Yet these privileges did not prevent Peter from later denying that he was a disciple of Jesus as his Master suffered trial and execution (John 18:12–27).
However, Jesus did not reject Peter utterly but restored him upon his repentance. After his denial, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him and three times Peter answered “yes” (John 21:15–19). Peter’s great love for Christ was possible in part because he personally understood the depth of the grace of God in God’s willingness to forgive even those who have denied Him.
Truly, all Christians love Jesus because He first loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sake of His people (1 John 4:7–12). Remarkably, this love is possible even though, unlike Peter, we have never seen Jesus in person. Close physical proximity to the incarnate Lord is not what motivates and sustains our love; rather, we love Him because our new birth enables us to do so (see v. 3).
Today’s passage both states this love for the unseen Christ as a fact and commends its presence in the life of the believer. Christians have a living hope that the non-believer does not possess (1 Peter 1:3–5), and this hope makes it possible for us to rejoice in the midst of great trials (vv. 6–7). Moreover, not only do we hope in Christ, we love Him in a way that causes us to rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and that brings glory to Him as we obtain all the benefits of our salvation (vv. 8–9).
The love that we have for Christ helps to assure us of our hope. It is so deep that sometimes we cannot put it into words. This is not to say that it is something we always feel, for the intensity of our feelings may vary from moment to moment based on any number of factors. Yet even in those moments when we may not “feel” particularly passionate about Jesus, the true Christian will be able to look deep into his heart and know that he loves Christ above all.
Today’s passage tells us that as we love Christ, we obtain the salvation of our souls. In view here is salvation as a process, namely, the gradual renewal that we experience as we are sanctified. As we love Christ, we will grow in personal holiness and as we grow in personal holiness, we will love Him all the more. Spend some time in prayer today asking Jesus to increase your love for Him and find a way to express this love tangibly in worship and ministries of mercy.