John 21.15-17 cont.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said (says) to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to Him: “Feed My lambs”.
16 Again He (Jesus) said (says) to him a second time: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to him: “Shepherd My sheep”.
17 A third time Jesus said (says) to him: “Simon, son of John: “Do you have affection for Me?” Peter was irritated because He said to Him a third time: “Do you love Me? So he said to Him: “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. Jesus said to him: “Feed My sheep“.
Forgiveness is very precious, but it is not a natural thing for one person to forgive another. Maybe we are withholding forgiveness from someone who has done something against us. Or maybe we are in need of someone forgiving us. Yet in both circumstances we may not find that forgiveness is flowing too well.
Everyday we all need to be forgiven and we all need to forgive.
When Jesus restored Peter from his denial of knowing Him, He was showing Peter, the other disciples, and every generation that was to follow the importance of forgiveness and restoration.
Therefore, there is no reason why any believer should withhold forgiveness, there is no reason why any believer would not go to those who have ‘trespassed against us’ in order to forgive them.
We are all familiar with the words in the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples:
And release us from our sins, as we also release those who are sinning against us, and do not allow us to be led into temptation – Luke 11.4.
In the three questions that Jesus asked Peter there is the demonstration of how we must also deal with those who need our forgiveness.
It is interesting to note that the word ‘love’ in the Greek is twice ‘agapas’, and once ‘phileis’. ‘Phileis’ actually means having affection for someone.
The record of Peter’s reply also uses the word ‘phileis’ instead of ‘agapas’. We may not understand why Peter did this, but perhaps it was that he did not want to compare his fellow disciples in an unfavourable way; perhaps he did not want to boast about his love, which had let him down so severely as he denied Jesus.
On the third question Jesus uses the same word as Peter, and accepts that Peter is declaring his affection for Him.
Affections is an aspect of love, it is to cherish someone, and to be very fond of them that results in acts of kindness.
Peter was declaring that this kind of loving affection was the place that his heart was at.
He did not boast of where he was not, nor should we, but like Peter we need to declare our loving affection to and for Jesus.