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Do you love me?
In John chapter 21 John recorded a conversation between Jesus
and Peter. In the English translation it appears that Jesus asked
the same question three times. In actuality Jesus asked the same
question twice and then slightly altered the question the third
time. In the Greek language there are at least four words that
have been translated “love.” Two of those words are
in consideration in the conversation between Jesus and Peter.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me…?” The
first two times Jesus asked the question the Greek word He used
for love was the word “agape” (the highest form of
love in the Greek language). The third time Jesus used the Greek
word “philos” (a friendship kind of love). Each time
Peter responded with the word “philos.” The
conversation therefore was similar to this, Jesus asked,
“Peter do you love Me…?” Peter responded,
“Yes Lord, I am your friend.” Again Jesus asked,
“Do you love Me…?” Peter replied, “Lord
I am your friend.” The third time Jesus asked Peter,
“Are you My friend…?” It grieved Peter that
Jesus apparently had abandoned hope that Peter even loved Him.
Again Peter responded by saying, “Lord, You know all
things. You know that I am your friend.” At the end of this
conversation Jesus told Peter how he would die and bring glory to
At the time that Jesus asked these questions of Peter, Jesus had just risen from the dead. It had only been a few days since Peter had bitterly denied knowing or being a disciple of Jesus. Peter was probably extremely disappointed in himself. He had probably slipped into a deep depression. He possibly felt neither worthy of Christ’s love nor capable of properly loving Christ or anyone else. The questions that Jesus asked Peter was to reassure and remind Peter that he was still in the spiritual employ of Christ and there was still work to be done. Therefore Jesus preceded each question with an admonition for Peter to feed and tend the flock of Christ.
For the rest of his life Peter tried daily to prove his love (agape) for Christ. He was the forerunner in preaching the gospel to the Jews (Acts 2) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Peter was tireless in his efforts to reprove, encourage and remind the saints of their responsibility in Christ and in the church of Christ. At the end of his life, when he knew that the end was coming, Peter endeavors to remind the saints once more how to live the Christian life. He wrote, “Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love (Gk. agape).” (2Peter 1:5-7). When Peter wrote this passage, it is quite possible that he was thinking about that conversation that he and Christ had all those years earlier. Immediately after writing that passage he wrote, “Knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” (2Peter 1:14-15).
The lesson of Peter’s life begs to ask a simple question of all of us, “Are we loving Jesus with the kind of love that He deserves?” Don’t let depression keep you from loving and serving Christ. If you are already a Christian you are in the spiritual employ of Christ and there is still work to do. This life is full of disappointments and mistakes and problems. Don’t let these things dominate your life. The writer of the book of Hebrews, writing about all of the people of faith, offers them as examples for us. He wrote, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:1-3).