The risk of loving others as Christ loves us requires transparency and vulnerability, and our personal cost is extremely high.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love you." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep.” John 21:15-17.
A couple of sessions ago I addressed the topic of the Greek words ‘agape’ and ‘phileo’. These three verses in John’s Gospel most likely contain the very best illustration of their use, a conversation between Jesus Christ and his often hesitant disciple, Peter.
With two succeeding questions, Jesus inquires of Peter his love for Him. The Master utilizes the word ‘agape’ and the Disciple returns with the term ‘phileo’. However, because the Lord knows the human heart and also understands Peter’s, He returns to this bewildered follower with the use of ‘phileo’. Peter, no doubt embarrassed and perhaps relieved as well that his Lord finally has understood answers by this third attempt with ‘phileo’. Peter simply was not prepared to love the Lord Jesus with ‘agape’ love.
For the love of Peter……and us.
My opinion of this strange event demonstrates a couple of things, and I am certain there are more.
1. Jesus demonstrates that He knows us much better than we know ourselves.
2. His love for us goes beyond our abilities to love Him in return.
Everyone would like to think that our love for Christ is unfettered, that is to say, “with all of our hearts.” But this is not possible unless we are able to fellowship with the Christ just as the Apostle Paul has written,
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11.
Jesus is Lord