Jesus is about to leave Earth. He had one last breakfast with his disciples and then he took Peter aside and asked him three rather pointed questions:
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied. “You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that 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. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me.”
Peter turned and saw “the disciple whom Jesus loved” following them. Peter asked, “Lord, what about him?” Here’s how Jesus replied:
If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.
Let’s look at our 2 BIG questions:
1. Who exactly is Jesus?
Before the resurrection, Peter denied Jesus three times. Now, he confirms three times that Jesus is Lord.
2. What exactly does he want us to do?
What if Jesus asked you what he asked Peter? If you think about it, it’s the ultimate question in the universe.
How would you respond? Would your actions back up your answer?
It’s important to note that in the original Greek Jesus used a different word for “love” than Peter in his first two questions. The love Jesus has in mind is agape, which signifies the deeeeep, irreversible, unshakeable, unconditional love of God — or, in other words, total 100% commitment. Peter tempers his first two responses by confessing mere philia love for Jesus, which connotes friendship or affection.
In essence, Jesus asks Peter “Do you LOVE me?” and Peter responds “Yes, Lord, you know I’m fond of you.” (It seems that Peter has learned a lesson from his previous over-the-top declarations that he would never forsake Jesus.)
Interestingly, in his third question Jesus switched to the lower philia love. That question cut Peter to the heart. After acknowledging that Jesus “knows all things,” he admits that philia love is all he’s got.
Jesus’ message never wavers. He wants us to (1) LOVE God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and (2) LOVE our neighbors as ourselves.
What would it look like if we reeeeeally did that? We would (1) follow Jesus and (2) feed his sheep.
Never forget that we’re never alone in that endeavor. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit living inside us 24/7/365 to fill us to overflowing God’s LOVE.
Fill up. Now. Please. The world needs it.
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