DO YOU LOVE ME?
the meal of love had ended, Jesus started a conversation of love. Eating
together should always be more than feeding ourselves in the presence of
others, like cattle at a feedlot. Apart from the occasion to socialize, a
meal can have a wonderful symbolic meaning of friendship and outreach,
closeness and sharing.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me” (Greek: agapas me) “more than
these?” He pointed either to the other disciples or to the fish. Peter
answered, “Yes, Lord, You know I like You” (Greek: philo se).
There is a difference of strength between the two words. In the gospels
agape is always used to indicate God’s love for us, and our love for Him
and for fellow believers; philo is used to indicate fondness for
people, animals or things. The name Philip (Philippos) literally
means “liking horses.” Although they probably spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, John
phrased it in Greek in such a way that the difference in word nuance was
Peter was a broken man after he had failed his Friend and Teacher in the
crisis hour. Before that, he had boasted that even if all would forsake
Jesus, he, Peter, would never do such a thing. Now that his inflated ego had
been punctured, he was not going to engage in big talk again. Therefore, he
modestly said what he felt he could truthfully say, “Yes, Lord, I like You.”
In his shame, he made an understatement regarding his love for Jesus.
Jesus repeated His question, using the same word agape, but leaving
out the reference to others. Peter responded again with the same word
philo, confirming his friendship with Jesus. Then Jesus bowled him the
heartbreaker: “Simon, do you like Me?” Peter’s heart ached when Jesus the
third time said, “phileis me, do you like me—are you sure about your
friendship-love?” With tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, he
re-affirmed softly: “Lord, You know all things, You know I like You, You
know I’m Your friend.” He stuck to philo se.
Three times he had denied that he knew Jesus. Three times he now affirmed
his love for his Friend. Three times Jesus responded with an assignment:
“feed My lambs”, “tend My sheep”, “feed My sheep.” Yeshua replaced Peter’s
heavy yoke of guilt with His light yoke of forgiveness and service. In the
presence of his fellow disciples, Jesus restored Peter to fellowship with
Him and with them. Jesus accepted Peter’s mustard-seed-faith and his
prayer: Lord, I say with all my heart: I love You.
thought: Which word will I use when Jesus asks me this question?