We continue our study of the Gospel of John. We pick up at verse 15 of Chapter 21. Jesus and seven of His Disciples were having a meal on the beach by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” John 21: 17
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, Feed my lambs.’ Again, Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ He answered, ‘ Yes Lord, You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked Him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, Feed my sheep.’ (John 21: 15-17)
As you recall, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus on the night Jesus was arrested. Peter was filled with love and devotion at the Passover Supper, and felt that he would die for our Lord if necessary to show his love. He was sincere, but Jesus told Peter that ‘he would deny Him three times that night before the cock crows.’ This happened, and Peter was in tears over it. He could not believe he had done that. But Jesus knew Peter’s heart, and knew that he would stand beside Him at the next opportunity, and what the Lord wanted to do was to show Peter that He believed in him. Peter had denied Jesus three times that night. Jesus asked him to examine himself three times as He said, “Do you love Me?” to clear the air, and start fresh. The first two times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used the greek word ‘Agape’ for Love. Agape means ‘a self-sacrificial love- I give All that I am to you to you kind of Love.’. The third time the Lord asked Peter, “Do you love Me.” He used the greek word ‘Phileo’, signifying affection, affinity, brotherly love. Jesus was asking ‘are you really my Friend? Do you want to walk with Me loving Me without reservation because you enjoy being with Me..’ Each time Peter replied with the word translated into ‘Phileo” He had to examine himself, and realize he had not totally given all that he was to the Lord. Peter loved Him, he wanted to be with Him, but for what Jesus had in mind for him, Peter needed to give all that was – that self-sacrifing kind of love that says, “I am ALL IN.”
Peter made that decision. We know that from the way he became a great Leader. From the way we see the anointing that was upon him as he preached the Word on the day when about 3,000 accepted Christ as Savior. (Acts 2: 41) The Lord had made the following comment unto Peter, after Peter had identified Jesus as Messiah: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Peter had been given special gifts, as have each of us. He did not realize how he would use those gifts until he came to know who he really was in Christ. Let that be so for each of us. Let us open all that we are to our Lord. Let us receive His Agape Love, and return it as Agape Love. Let there be no doubt if the Lord says, “Do you Agape Me?” that our answer will be a sincere, ‘Yes, Lord, I Agape you with all my heart.” May our life reflect that every day.