Remember that story in the bible where Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17)
In John chapter 21, Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection. After they ate breakfast, Jesus asks Simon Peter three times, “Simon, do you love me?”
What we don’t notice, however, is the richness of the word Jesus used for “love” in these three questions.
15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me more than these?” He said* to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me?” He said* to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.” He said* to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
17 He said* to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (phileo) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (phileo) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You.” Jesus said* to him, “Tend My sheep.
If we read it like this, we can almost picture a scene similar to when one would profess his love to his beloved, only to be friendzoned. Jesus is saying, Peter I love you this much! The Agape kind of love. But Peter, in his hesitation, could only muster up enough love to say, Yes, Jesus. I do love you… you know the brotherly kind.
We read in 1 John 4:8 that God is love (agape). Agape love is an unconditional, deep kind of love. It points back to God’s kind of love, so we can see Peter’s hesitance to say the word back. It means to ‘prefer,’ that is, to prefer what God prefers. To ‘prefer’ others means to look after their needs above your own. This means to prefer His will above all, and to agape what He agape. Yes, agape would entail that we love what God loves. And God so loved the world (people)… Let’s say that again… To love (agape) God means that we love (agape) what God loves (agape). Love God. Love Others.
Jesus insisted to Peter, If you love me… then take care of the people I love (my sheep).
A new commandment I give to you, that you love (agape) one another: just as I have loved (agape) you, you also are to love (agape) one another. John 13:34
Father, just as we received your agape love. Help us to extend agape love to others. Enable us through the Holy Spirit to love the way You do. In Jesus name, amen.
- I am deeply, unconditionally loved (agape) by God.
- His overwhelming love for me makes it easy for me to love others the way He does.