It’s the month of love and love is the cry of our hearts, isn’t it? We want to love and be loved and so we ask the question, “Do you love me?” That was the same question Jesus asked Peter post-resurrection. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter that question three times. Why three times? The Bible makes it clear that it takes two or three witnesses to confirm something as a fact (Deuteronomy 19:15, 2 Corinthians 13:10). Peter had publicly denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed (John 18:25-27). Jesus had taught His men that to deny Him before men meant that He would deny them before His Father in heaven (Matthew 10:33). The result for Peter is that Jesus would have to deny him as one of His own and Peter could not have entered heaven!
To counter those three denials, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times. If Peter responded positively that he loved Him that would counter his three denials before men and Jesus would confess him as one of His own to His Father. The dialogue between Peter and Jesus is fascinating. Jesus uses the word for love translated in the Greek as agape two of the three times. By using agape He is asking Peter, “do you love me with God’s sacrificial love?” Peter responds each time with a different Greek word for love, philia. What’s the difference? Peter in essence is saying to Jesus, “I love you as a friend.” It is clear that Peter doesn’t feel that he can love Jesus sacrificially but more as a friend. The third and final time Jesus asks Peter “do you love me” He uses the term philia. Jesus understands that Peter only feels he can love Him as a friend. He doesn’t have the capacity to love Him with God’s love. Jesus accepts Peter’s three declarations and shows him great grace by restoring the fractured relationship. Peter will be confessed by Jesus as one of His own to the Father in heaven!
Do you love me? The loved ones in your life long to know your answer to that important question. Don’t disappoint them this Valentine’s Day. Tell them you love them and give them the chance to reciprocate.
The mark of the Christian is love,