John 21:15-17 “When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered, “You know I love You.”
Jesus replied, “Feed My lambs.”
Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered, “You know I love You.”
Jesus told him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?”
“Lord, You know all things,” he replied. “You know I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
A Moment that would last a lifetime.
Jesus had been resurrected from the grave, He had appeared to well over 500 people and was nearing the time when He would ascend into Heaven. We are only given glimpses of this time of unparalleled change that was happening on the earth. The church had been born, the Savior had fulfilled His purposes that had been pre-ordained from man’s inception and Jesus was doing things the disciples themselves were bewildered by. One moment the disciples were in a room together and Jesus would suddenly appear. Two men were walking the road to Emmaus and Jesus would just appear and be walking with them, talking, sharing about the events that were unfolding.
Jesus was His own evangelist at this time, establishing the reality of His victory over sin and the grave while encouraging those who followed Him to press on.
This moment on the beach was a moment Jesus took for the disciples who had followed Him closely, specifically Peter. Peter would undoubtedly never forget the lesson on the beach that day, a lesson of love that even he doubted at the moment.
First, we must understand what led to this moment that defined a man who became the Patriarch of the church in Jerusalem.
Peter had attempted to dissuade Jesus from entering into Jerusalem for what would eventually be Jesus’ crucifixion—Jesus rebuked him and relegated him to the level of Satan in his brash misunderstanding.
Just a few days later, Peter in his typical brazen manner had declared that Jesus would not wash his feet—Jesus showed him what true humility looked like.
Peter had boldly declared he would never leave Jesus’ side—at the trial of Jesus, Peter denied Him 3 times.
By all accounts and purposes, Peter was a complete failure.
How would you respond if you were Peter?
I know I would be thinking, “what am I doing?”, “you are such a fraud“, “you make claims you can’t back up, you sound so bold and yet with each step you continue to blow it!“
What does Peter do?– He goes back to fishing. That is probably what I would do as well. I would be thinking, I can’t make it as a disciple of Christ, I might as well go do what I know and that is fishing.
Jesus, in His mercy, shows up once again.
John 21:4-8 “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” “No,” they answered. He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.”
Why was Peter so anxious to get to Jesus?
The fact that the risen Son of God showed up to their work place was a reflection of His love for them. His presence said, ‘you are still important to me’, His presence said, ‘I forgive you’.
For Peter, the one who had blown it so many times, Jesus’ presence meant Everything!
On the shores of this so called “sea”, a defeated man was made into a giant of the faith.
We have lost much of the meaning in scripture to the translation. The KJV, originally transcribed in 1611 was as close to the original Greek and Aramaic as we could get. It was later made more suitable to the Bishop’s Bible of that day, a need that was made apparent by the persecution of the now corrupt Catholic church. The conversation that Jesus had with Peter doesn’t make a lot of sense in it’s current modern form, but when read in its original intent, the language transforms into a much more realistic understanding of the interaction.
There are 4 ways that love is transcribed based off its original intent. Philia–brotherly love, Eros–sensual love, Storge–familial love, and Agape–Godly sacrificial love.
When we read this section of John 21 with the original intent of Jesus’ words, they take on a whole new meaning:
John 21:15-17 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me — agape love — more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you — phileo love–.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me — agape love — ?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you — phileo love –.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me — phileo love –?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me? — phileo love –” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you — phileo love –.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
The question Jesus posed was one of Godly love versus brotherly love. Peter had declared his allegiance even unto death just a short time before and we witnessed how poorly he was able to follow up that promise.
John 13:36-37 “Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
This laying down of our lives is the model of agape love that Jesus perfected.
Eventually, the agape love that Jesus asked of Peter, took hold in his life. He selflessly gave of himself until death, and even then he thought of himself unworthy to be crucified like his Lord——Peter was crucified upside down.
*The moment of truth Jesus brought Peter to on the shores of Galilee was a model of God’s call in our lives.
Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to respond with the same verve and panache as he did during the Passover meal. Peter’s confidence in himself had clearly been shaken, his response was much more subdued the second time around and reflected the wisdom gained.
Agape love is only validated by action, not by promise.
Jesus asked twice….do you agape love me, Peter responded twice with a commitment to Phileo love. The third question was a revelation of God’s Grace toward us…Jesus asked “do you Phileo love me?” Peter’s response was the same and Jesus revealed to him what Phileo love looked like in practice…feeding His sheep. Peter’s hurt was the realization that God would lower His expectation to the level Peter was willing to acquiesce.
If all Peter could muster was Phileo love, God would accept this measure of love until he was ready. When do we see the transformation in Peter from the weakness of Phileo love to strength in Agape?
The Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:36-39 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The power of the Spirit of God endows His people with the ability to love with God’s love.
Jesus proved His agape love toward us upon the cross and now He asks of us…do we love Him? Are we willing to give all of our lives for Him? The answer from His people is a resounding —-Yes!
Those who know the transforming love of God, understand the value of sacrifice. What Peter knew and and what He lived for became synonymous in his life.
What he knew and what we know now is Jesus is worthy.