I wrote about this verse of scripture a few years ago on Myspace, and I was disappointed to find out I missed a sermon on it the other day when I stayed home to watch one of the children who did not want to attend church. She is too young to be quiet when she doesn't want to be there, and too young to leave at home. That being out of the way I just wanted to share some thoughts on it because it is a beautiful set of verses (aren't all of them?)
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 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.
It seems odd in the English translation to keep asking Simon over and over, do you love me? Mostly because we only have one word for love. However, in the original language there were four different words for love. Two of them were used here. They were:
Agape - the love of God or Christ for mankind, unconditional love
phileo - brotherly love
So to paraphrase the conversation above, Jesus who had just risen from the dead and had dined on some fish said, to his friend and disciple.
"Do you love me unconditionally as I love the world?" Remember Jesus loved the world so much he died on the cross for all of our sins.
Simon peter replied, "Of course, I love you like a brother."
Quite a bit of difference in brotherly love, and the love of God for the world. Though some brothers would die for each other, would a brother die for everyone? I know some brothers who would not even lift a finger for each other as well.
He asks him again, "Simon Peter, do you agape me?"
Peter replies, "Yes Lord, I phileo you!"
Once again the Lord wants to know if he loves him as much as God loves us! Peter says I love you like a brother, he still isn't getting it!
Then a third time Jesus asks, and when he look at it, he asks "Simon, do you phileo me?" Simon is hurt, because he asks a third time. I also think he is hurt because he realizes what Jesus is asking of him, asking if he loves him that much and Simon isn't ready for that. He wants to be, but he's not sure that he has the love in him that Jesus, the living God has! He says, "You know all things! You know that I love you like a brother!" Jesus commands him one more time "Feed my sheep!"
This is a lesson for all of us today. Do you agape Jesus? Do you love him enough to die on the cross with him and rise again the third day? That's what we as Christians do when we are baptized. "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 We are dunked under the water 3 times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; symbolizing our three days in the tomb. When we rise out of that water we are a new creature. "Not I, but Christ liveth in me!" We are to live by the faith in the son of God!! Walking in obedience to his commandments. We are no longer part of this world, but children of the Living God! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ! Our sins are washed clean! We are to agape one another forgiving each other our sins and sinning no more! Amen, Hallelujah!
It also means that some of us aren't ready for agape. Some of us are still at the phileo stage. Some of us haven't gotten there yet, but that doesn't mean we don't have to strive for more! We have to keep trying. Just like my mother used to tell me when I fell off a horse, get back on it right now! Dust yourself off and start riding again. You might get angry at someone, or not like someone, work to love them no matter how hard it is. Know that Jesus loves them, and that God loves them. It doesn't mean you have to have them over for coffee every day, but you don't have to give them a cold shoulder and not wave when they pass you in the hall. If you see them with a flat, don't pretend you don't see them flagging you down. Work towards agape. Work towards being Christ. So that when people look at you, they don't even see you anymore, they see the Christ that has risen in you.
One last thing, I agape you. No matter who you are, where you are, you are beautiful, each and everyone of you. God loves you, and so do I. God bless you, and may he pour out all of his love on you. If you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior please do so today. If you don't know how just ask him in your words to come into your heart, and pick up a bible and start at Mathew and start reading a little at a time. If that seems like to much, or you just want someone to help or guide you, feel free to send me a message. I'd be happy to pray with you, or even suggest some reading. May God bless you in your journey.