What is really happening here in the conversation between Jesus and Peter? Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him? Do you love me more than these? Do you really love me? Do you love ME? Peter kept saying of course I love you, Jesus, you already know that. The word for love Peter uses in the Greek (phileo) means having affection for or fondness. This was a teaching moment for Jesus and a learning one for Peter.
Jesus is giving his disciple Peter another chance to learn what loving Him really means. Remember Peter denied Jesus three times though he boasted he never would. While the English language has only one word for love, there are several words for love in the original Greek. The one Jesus uses here is agape which is sacrificial, unconditional love — it is the radical love of God that is shown throughout the Bible. God doesn’t love us because of who we are but because of who He is. Jesus loved people that others would shun. He loved Rahab the prostitute, Thomas who doubted Jesus, Peter who denied him three times, and many others that we might judge unworthy.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:7-9, NIV)
God isn’t only saying that He loves us unconditionally but that we are all called to love Him and others the same way. He says we are to love our neighbors and even our enemies with this radical love. Jesus tells Peter to tend, feed His sheep and “follow me.” Learn from the Good Shepherd how to truly love unconditionally.
“… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)
God knows your heart and longs for you to know His heart. He wants you to experience His radical love on a continual basis. He gave us His Spirit who enables us to see people as He sees them. For us, love is making a choice every day, either to love or not to love people like Jesus loves us. This love isn’t a feeling, it’s a commitment to love Him, follow him and love others His way.
By Deb Hill
Executive Admin. Assistant
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