John 21:15-19 NASB
“Now when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was hurt 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, “Tend My sheep.”
Most of us are familiar with John’s recording of Jesus asking Peter, after Jesus’ resurrection, if Peter loved him. Gotquestions.org has a brief summary on this particular quote of the dialogue between Jesus and Peter here, should you wish to review it.
As noted in the gotquestions.org summary, it states the following: “There is also an interesting contrast when you look at the Greek words for “love” used in John 21:15–17. When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” in John 21:15–16, He used the Greek word agape, which refers to unconditional love. Both times, Peter responded with “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you,” using the Greek word phileo, which refers more to a brotherly/friendship type of love. It seems that Jesus is trying to get Peter to understand that he must love Jesus unconditionally in order to be the leader God is calling him to be. The third time Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” in John 21:17, He uses the word phileo, and Peter again responds with “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you,” again using phileo. The point in the different Greek words for “love” seems to be that Jesus was stretching Peter to move him from phileo love to agape love.”
This morning, as I was driving into work, it struck me about the unconditional love that Jesus questions Peter about. And when I thought of unconditional love, I thought of my wife. I love my wife. There are things that I would do without hesitation for my wife that I probably would not be so quick to do for someone else. So in this particular case, for me, agape love would be more prevalent with my wife, versus phileo love that I might show to others.
And as I was driving to work, the question came to my mind, “Why is that?”
That’s a hard question to answer because there are a lot of different reasons, but most of all, I would hope that I would respond to what she asks of me, because I know her. We’ve been through a lot together, I know her heart, I know how she thinks, I know what she needs.
Now about here, because I am a man and my wife is a woman, as in, not the same, I do need to state a qualifier.
Do I fall short in giving my wife unconditional love? Yes I do. And the reason for that is pretty obvious, my concern about self, can still get in the way. I would hope not near as much as it used to, but it still is there. Yet, when push comes to shove, if I know that she needs me to do something for her, I do honestly try to do what she needs me to do. She, of all people, has earned that consideration, that attention to detail, that response that she asks for. And, often, it is that love that I have for her, that compels me to take the precedence I have that focuses on me, and allow it to be over ridden, by the precedence I have for her.
I have been married to my wife now for over fifty years. That is called “God’s grace”. There is not another normal human being alive that has touched my heart like my wife’s has. Yet I still have times when my concerns take precedence over her’s. And what she may focus on, is not always what I would focus on. We’re definitely not wired the same way. I don’t always see what she sees, nor do I always hear what she hears. When I am listening to someone giving news on the TV, I focus on their words, she may focus on their clothes. Why their clothes are important to her I have no idea, but they sometimes are, and that probably explains why she is the one that notices I have my shirt buttoned incorrectly before we go out and I never even saw it.
About now you’re probably asking yourself where all of this is heading!
Well, allow me to clear that up for you.
I can’t help but recognize so many similarities within marriage, involving love, that applies to our walk with Jesus, and our heavenly Father, through His Holy Spirit.
That unconditional love that Jesus asked Peter for in response, is really what Jesus asks from all of us. And just like a husband gets to know his wife and vice versa, we do get to know Jesus as we walk with Him through this journey. And we two do become one. We do become more atuned to the way He sees and the way He hears and even how He speaks. And if anyone ever earned the right to have their will accommodated, it would be Jesus, considering what He endured for all of us, so that we might be reconciled again, through Him, to our heavenly Father God.
And the fact that Jesus calls us His bride is no coincidence. And I am wired differently than Jesus is, because His thoughts and ways are not always my thoughts and ways, but through this journey I do get to come to know Him. And that brotherly love towards Him does change to the agape love, the unconditional love, or at least it should, especially over considerable time. And the starter is that we love Him because He first loved us, key words being first loved and then love. And the conflict between our own self will and His will, does dissipate, but never completely, while we are yet in these bodies (or married).
And how important is it that we come to really know Jesus? Extremely important, because it is a deciding factor (Matthew 7:21-23 refers).
Unconditional love says I want to, not I have to.
Unconditional love says I know, as I am known.
Unconditional love says my hearts desire is for you, not for me.
And the fact that marriage does give us these living examples, even with the shortfalls, gives me encouragement. So no, I’m not all the way there yet, but one day, that which I have tasted, shall be our constant feast, in Him.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
Simon, Son of John, Do You Love Me?
John 21:15-19 NASB