Three challenging messages about “love” and our relationship to God come from these few verses. 1. Jesus reference to Peter as ‘Simon, son of Jonah/Jonas/John’. 2. The word love requires explanation in the case of its use here by our Lord in His talk with Simon, the son of Jonas, which took place after Christ’s resurrection. 3. What our Lord Jesus Christ told Peter to do for the kingdom of heaven. 1. It’s very interesting that our Lord Jesus when He began talking with Peter called him Simon, son of Jonas which was Peter’s name before the Lord changed it to Peter–the rock. We read of that event in Matthew 16:18 and also in John 1:42. It is obvious that our Lord was using Peter’s birth name for a definite purpose. Some Bible scholars say ‘… to reinstate Peter as a disciple’. I’m not sure that’s the complete message here. I believe Peter remembered daily his denial of those 3 times after the Roman soldiers took Jesus into custody. The reason I believe that is because in Jesus’ first question He says “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?” That reminded Peter of his confession of love, faith and obedience to our Savior in Matthew 26:33 “Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” That was a profound statement to make to Jesus; Peter was saying “…no matter what the other disciples do, I will never deny you…” but Peter denied he even knew Jesus; three times! (Matthew 26: 69-74) 2. Interestingly, the word Jesus uses for love in His first inquiry of Peter is the Greek word ‘agape’, which means selfless love; self-sacrificing love for the welfare of another above oneself . The love that our Savior Jesus Christ showed to the world when He obeyed the Father and gave His life for all of mankind on the cross of Calvary. Peter’s response “Yes Lord, You know that I love you”, the word for love Peter used was phileos, Greek for a close, friendly, brotherly type love. A more affectionate response, which is what Peter needed at this point because he felt distanced by the Lord and desired forgiveness and that ‘close relationship’ he and Jesus shared before the crucifixion . Jesus responds with “Feed My lambs”.
John 21: 15-17: “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.
Jesus asks Peter again “Do You love me?” , the agape love again. Peter responds as before with “Yes Lord You know I love You” using phileos again. Jesus says “Tend My sheep”. A third and final time Jesus asks Peter “Do You love Me?” Peter saddened deeply because His Lord asked him again, but elated because this time Jesus uses the Greek phileos! That’s what Peter was waiting to hear, and he responded with “Lord you know all things, you know I love you”. The Lord Jesus knew Peter’s heart and He knew how much Peter loved his Savior, his friend, his brother. Then Jesus responded “Feed my sheep”. 3. In all of Jesus’ responses to Peter He tells/commands Peter to do 3 similar yet alike acts. First “Feed my lambs”. Acts 20:28 the apostle Paul tells the chosen leaders (disciples ) “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” In Jesus second response he says “Tend my sheep”. In 1 Peter 2:25 a more spiritually mature Peter writes “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” He was following Jesus command… Peter was tending the Lord’s sheep! In Jesus third response to Peter He said “Feed my sheep”. Peter did exactly as His Lord Jesus commanded and spent His life being a leader and a Shepherd for the “sheep”. Teaching them in the ways of the Lord. Thus, feeding them.
What’s love got to do with it? EVERYTHING! We can’t share the love of Jesus if we don’t love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, body and soul– if we don’t have a close, loving relationship with Him and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. The Word tells us “God is love” “… love is the greatest of all commandments.” Praying for myself and all the Body of Christ that our love shines brightly and shared with the world! ♥ Streim