Warm Affection or Burning Love? – Sunday 17 May 2020


Burning love

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Worship@Home Sunday, 17 May 2020


 (Major Elizabeth Turner)

Song 48          God’s love to me is wonderful

(Chelmsford Salvation Army Songsters)
Modern version: )

God’s love to me is wonderful,
That he should deign to hear
The faintest whisper of my heart,
Wipe from mine eyes the tear;
And though I cannot comprehend
Such love, so great, so deep,
In his strong hands my soul I trust,
He will not fail to keep.

God’s love is wonderful,
God’s love is wonderful,
Wonderful that he should give his Son to die for me;
God’s love is wonderful!

God’s love to me is wonderful!
My very steps are planned;
When mists of doubt encompass me,
I hold my Father’s hand.
His love has banished every fear,
In freedom I rejoice,
And with my quickened ears I hear
The music of his voice.

God’s love to me is wonderful!
He lights the darkest way;
I now enjoy his fellowship,
‘Twill last through endless day.
My Father doth not ask that I
Great gifts on him bestow,
But only that I love him too,
And serve him here below.

Sidney Edward Cox (1887-1975)


Chorus            Turn your eyes upon Jesus

(Jonathan Salas)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.



Creator God, you who love us more than we can know,
Who chose us from the very beginning to be family
We praise your holy name.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word become flesh,
Who dwelt among us and was sacrificed for us,
We praise your holy name.
Holy Spirit, present and power in our lives
From the moment that we first believed,
We praise your holy name.

Pray the Lord’s prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,


Bible Reading: John 21:15-25 (The Passion Translation)

Jesus Restores Peter

15 After they had breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me more than these?”

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my lambs,” Jesus said.

16 Jesus repeated his question the second time, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me?”

Peter answered, “Yes, my Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 Then Jesus asked him again, “Peter, son of John, do you have great affection for me?”

Peter was saddened by being asked the third time and said, “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you!”

Jesus replied, “Then feed my lambs! 18 Peter, listen, when you were younger you made your own choices and you went where you pleased. But one day when you are old, others will tie you up and escort you where you would not choose to go—and you will spread out your arms.” 19 (Jesus said this to Peter as a prophecy of what kind of death he would die, for the glory of God.) And then he said, “Peter, follow me!”

20 Then Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the disciple who sat close to Jesus at the Last Supper and had asked him, “Lord, who is the one that will betray you?”) 21 So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “What’s going to happen to him?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I decide to let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours? You must still keep on following me!”

23 So the rumour started to circulate among the believers that this disciple wasn’t going to die. But Jesus never said that, he only said, “If I let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours?”


24 I, John, am that disciple who has written these things to testify of the truth, and we know that what I’ve documented is accurate. 25 Jesus did countless things that I haven’t included here. And if every one of his works were written down and described one by one, I suppose that the world itself wouldn’t have enough room to contain the books that would have to be written!

Song                Jesus, be the centre

(Vineyard small group worship)

Jesus, be the centre
Be my source, be my light,

Jesus, be the Centre,
Be my hope, be my song,

Be the fire in my heart,
Be the wind in these sails;
Be the reason that I live,
Jesus, Jesus.

Jesus, be my vision,
Be my path, be my guide,

Michael Frye © 1999 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)/ Adm. by CopyCare


Love is a topic that has been talked about, debated, sung and demonstrated in many, many ways since time began. In 1984 Tina Turner strutted through the pop charts with a number one hit ‘what’s love got to do, got to do with it?’ The song also became a title for a film about Turner’s troubled life where she suffered abuse.

Written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle the song was originally offered to Cliff Richard who turned it down. Perhaps as a committed Christian he could not subscribe to the view that love was but ‘a second hand emotion’ or ‘sweet old fashioned notion’. Although a heart certainly could be broken, if it was filled with divine love: it could tell quite different story about which love had everything to do with it.

In the heyday of the musical film, opera singer actors Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sang in the film Rose-Marie the lilting ‘Indian love call’ song. Interspersed with melodic oo-oo’s the lyrics of this song pose ‘When I’m calling you, will you answer too? That means I offer my life to you to be my own. If you refuse me I’ll be blue, waiting all alone. But when you hear my love call ringing clear, Then I will know our love will become true, You’ll belong to me and I’ll belong to you.’

The sentiments expressed in this song is a little nearer to what was being sought in Jesus’ interaction with Peter as they walked along the shoreline after sharing early morning breakfast. Seven restless disciples had gone out fishing spending a long weary night trying to net an elusive catch. Their sorry adventure had been wondrously transformed by the dawn catch directed by Jesus and followed by a welcome breakfast that he had prepared for them on the beach. And now they walked companionably side by side, Peter and Jesus. No doubt Peter’s heart was ‘fit to burst’ because Jesus his Lord and Master was there back with them and all was right with his world.

But Jesus had important business to attend to concerning Peter. Having completed his earthly mission, soon to be returning to Heaven, Jesus wanted to know where Peter’s allegiance lay. Peter, who had previously declared to Jesus: “Even if all the rest [of the disciples] lose their faith and fall away, I will still be beside you, Jesus!” (Mark 14:29) his claim had quickly foundered. Though Peter had already met with Jesus following his resurrection “It’s really true! The Lord has risen from the dead. He even appeared to Peter!”(Luke 24:34)  Jesus needed to know if Peter would still be ‘with him’.

So it was that Jesus asked Peter “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me more than these?” (John 21:15). Woah! That was a pretty big ask ‘burn with love’? Well now Peter wasn’t so sure. He had thought at one time he did, but his denial of Jesus had shown otherwise. Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!” (John 21:15b) Perhaps that more properly described his love for Jesus. Burning love wouldn’t deny knowledge in the heat of the moment, but affection might.

The reason I have chosen to print today’s Bible passage from The Passion Translation is because we more easily see the difference in Peter’s response to Jesus’ question. The English word ‘love’ does not present the real nuances that there could be in our usage of it. We talk of loving chocolate, a particular brand of coffee, a certain place, a pet or a family member. But our love for chocolate and our family member is certainly not the same at all, despite the word being the same.

The Greeks have a number of different words for love allowing them to make those distinctions clear. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him the word he used was ‘Agape’ which communicates a deep, burning, pure, divine love. But Peter’s word for love which he used was ‘Phileo’ which communicates great affection, a real liking for someone.

When Jesus asks Peter a second time about the love ‘Agape’ – burning love he has for him, the answer is the same. I have ‘Phileo’ –  great affection, a real  liking for you. Finally Jesus frames his question using the same word Peter has been using all along; “Peter, son of John, do you have great affection for me?” (John 21:17) It seems that Jesus’ use of the word ‘Phileo’ that he Peter had been using really upsets him and suddenly all doubt as to the real nature of his love for Jesus becomes clear and he responds with an unreserved “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you!” (John 21:17).

That’s it! That’s the response Jesus was looking for. For only a burning love like that would be able to give and not count the cost, would be able to carry Peter through the things that he would face. Jesus was upfront about the terrible way that Peter would die and in so doing, bring glory to God.

With this matter settled I imagine there would have been a few moments of silence each looking fully into the face of the other deeply content, radiating joy in their shared connection and understanding of the other. As they continue in their walk side by side, Peter is distracted. He either senses that they are not alone, or he hears a sound which causes him to look over his shoulder. It is John, the disciple whom it is said that Jesus loves, following them.

Peter cannot contain his curiosity (or is it jealousy?) of John and immediately asks Jesus “What’s going to happen to him?” (John 21:21) Jesus counters this with a ‘supposition, not a promise’ and tells Peter that what is planned for John is not for him or anybody else to be concerned with. All Peter should be focusing on is his calling and his love for Jesus, faithfully living that out, or he would be in danger of slipping back into mere affection for Jesus instead of the burning love that was called for, that needed to be expressed.

I wonder if you were walking side by side with Jesus along the shoreline today and he asked you “____ daughter/son of ____, do you burn with love for me?” What would your response to Jesus’ question be? Why not talk to Jesus about your answer. Know that whatever your response is, Jesus walks patiently alongside you working with you where you are and wanting to bring you to where you should be for real joy to be experienced because his call to you is clear and true. He wants each one of us to belong to him and him to belong to each one of us. Can you hear his call to you? How will you respond? It’s got everything to do with love.

Song 294        Knowing my failings

(Jesus Folk cast recording)

Knowing my failings, knowing my fears,
Seeing my sorrow, drying my tears.
Jesus recall me, me re-ordain;
You know I love you, use me again.

I have no secrets unknown to you,
No special graces, talents are few;
Yet your intention I would fulfill;
You know I love you, ask what you will.

For the far future I cannot see,
Promise your presence, travel with me;
Sunshine or shadows? I cannot tell;
You know I love you, all will be well.

John Gowans

Prayer of recommitment

Lord Jesus, I am staggered by the love you have for me, which brought you from Heaven to earth, through the cross and the grave, and back to Heaven, so that I might be reconciled to the Father.

In response, my love has wavered from a burning passion to a mild interest, and everything in between. Like Peter, there have been times when I would die for you and others when I acted like I didn’t know you.

Thank you that the example of Peter shows that you do not give up on anyone. Forgive me if there have been times when I was rebellious, disinterested, lukewarm or even hostile. Help me recapture the days when I was full of passion for you. Lead me back to my first love.

Help me lay aside everything that hinders my following you, including worrying about what others are doing. May I learn to love you again with all my heart, and to share that love with others so they may know you too.

In your precious name I pray.


 Song 749        Oft have I heard thy tender voice

(Tune: Auld Lang Syne)

Oft have I heard thy tender voice
Which calls, dear Lord, to me,
And asks a quick yet lasting choice
‘Twixt worldly joys and thee;
It stirs my heart’s deep fountain springs,
And breaks the barriers down;
It bids me rise on faith’s strong wings,
And cries: No cross, no crown!

And yet, alas! a storm-tossed sea
Of care and doubt and fear
Still parts me, Saviour Lord, from thee,
Although thou art so near.
O speak again and bid me come,
From every fear set free,
In spite of self and sin and storm,
Upon the waves to thee.

O Lord, I dare to trust in thee,
Who maketh all things new,
My sins to slay, my tears to stay,
My sorrows to subdue;
And in the battle’s blazing heat,
When flesh and blood would quail,
I’ll fight and trust, and still repeat
That Jesus cannot fail.

Bramwell Booth (1856-1929)


The observant among you will have noticed that last week’s Bible reference was incorrect. You probably worked out that it should have been John 21:1‑14. We can only beg forgiveness and promise to do better next time!


May God’s Blessing surround you each day
As you trust him and walk in his way
May his presence within guard and keep you from sin
Go in peace, go in joy, go in love.


About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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