Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perfected

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

Most say that these three questions Jesus asked Peter relate back to Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus before His crucifixion. These denials came after Peter swore, even boasted, that he would die for Jesus; that he would sacrifice himself. They say that this reminding him of his failure is what cut Peter to the quick. This interpretation seems reasonable, but I think there is more there than meets the eye. I am not a Greek scholar, but I don’t think you need to be one in this case. The two words for love that are used in this passage are:

Agape – A divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.
Phileo – A friendship kind of love – brotherhood.


If you were to rewrite the passage above using the above definitions, it would read:

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you have an unconditional, self sacrificing love for Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You as a friend" He said to him, "Tend My lambs."

He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you have an unconditional, self sacrificing love for Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You as a friend." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me as a friend?" 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 as a friend" Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep. John 21:15-17

Isn’t that interesting! Jesus knew that Peter didn’t have an unconditional, self sacrificing love for Him, but still He asked Him anyway. Given his denial of Jesus, Peter knew it too. God is so good to reveal our hearts to us, although it can be painful. Gone was the boastful Peter who thought he was capable of loving Christ with the same love as Christ revealed on the cross. It was replaced by the Peter that knew he was only capable of loving Christ as a friend.

So it is with us! We don’t have the ability, in our flesh, to love with an unconditional, self sacrificing love. The best we can do is to love Jesus as our friend, as our brother. But, praise God, it doesn’t end there. Look what happened in verse 17 and following. Jesus met Peter where he was as if to say, "Peter, I know that you don’t have an unconditional, self sacrificing love for Me, but that’s OK; it’s enough that you love me as a friend…I can work with that.” “You abide in me Peter and I will teach you, by my Spirit, to love unconditionally and when that love is perfected in you, you will even lay down your life for My sake.” (v18-19).

May God’s love be perfected in me.

1 comment:

Jordy's Thoughts said...

(We don’t have the ability, in our flesh, to love with an unconditional, self sacrificing love. The best we can do is to love Jesus as our friend, as our brother.)

I am totally with ya here. I have ZERO ABILITY to love GOD with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. All I can do is watch out for me. Thats all I know how to do. If it came down to loving God or denying Him, I would deny Him. I can't love HIM. I don't have that love for HIM.