So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, 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, "Feed My sheep.
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."
This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
All of John, chapter 21, takes place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, (known as the Sea of Tiberius at this time), and the picture this gives us is that of Resurrection Life with Jesus Christ as the safe haven, with believers experiencing all the peace, joy and love that is His nature.
And after the joy of meeting with Jesus after thinking that He was lost to them, the disciples found the peace they sought and had always found in His Presence. They realise that His presence is still with them, despite the death on the Cross, and with the joy and the peace, they again know His love. The conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter reveals the nature of both in their use of the word ‘love’
The love spoken of by Jesus is God-centric, pure and holy, selfless and unconditional love — agape, from the Greek – ‘determining your will for another's good’ – ‘dying to yourself so that another might flourish’ — ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ [John 15:13]
The other types of love mentioned in Scripture are eros – physical, sensual love between a husband and wife; philia – close friendship, or brotherly love; and storge – family love, the close bond between parents and children, and vice versa.
We can see that aspects of love are interwoven into these verses from John 21, described in the New King James Version of The Bible as ‘Jesus restores Peter.’ When Jesus speaks to Peter He uses agapeo, but when Peter replies he uses phileo. Indeed, Peter uses phileo in answer to all three occasions Jesus asks him. Jesus speaks agapeo on the first and second time, but phileo on the third. What are we to understand from this, and how does this help us in our relationship with Jesus?
It seems that Peter does not understand the idea of love that Jesus talks of. Peter understands ‘brotherly love’, but has yet to grasp the notion of laying down your life for the sake of another. However, Jesus accepts where Peter is at this time and calls him to ‘feed my sheep’ — in other words ‘raise up my flock. Be a good shepherd in my stead.’
What we can see is that Jesus is gauging where Peter’s heart lies. The Lord knows His man, and by repeating His instruction to feed or shepherd His lambs and sheep, He is imparting the love of God and a nurturing heart to Peter. The threefold instruction gives the message the full weight of The Lord’s conviction to this. There can be no other way. The agape love of God can only be grown and matured in followers of Christ by coming alongside in a phileo relationship.
Jesus practises what He preaches and in speaking to Peter, He reveals the method by which others will be shown the Way, the Truth and the Life by Peter and by any who follow Jesus. Despite denying Jesus three times, Peter is revitalised and restored to his place with our Lord.
MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS
1 JOHN 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
FEED MY SHEEP — Don Francisco
PRAYER requires OBEDIENCE
WE DISCERN SPIRITUAL truth not by intellectual curiosity or research, but by entreating the favour of the Lord, that is, by prayer and by no other way, not even by obedience, because obedience is apt to have an idea of merit.
[from ‘He Shall Glorify Me’ by Oswald Chambers]
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COMING NEXT … #507 BY THE SEA 4: WHAT IS THAT TO YOU?
GEORGE and GILL STEWART