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“.
3 Jesus used a different word for love in His third question to Peter, as we have seen. We have also seen that it was the same word that Peter had given in his response to Jesus. Perhaps it was that Jesus responded to the word that Peter used in order to demonstrate to him that He fully understood exactly what Peter was saying. Perhaps Peter used a different word because he may have been a little weary of over stating his true feelings for Jesus; especially after his denial of Him.
Boasting about or over stating the truth of our feelings can be something that we may all be tempted to do, especially when faced with a situation that requires a display of loyalty, devotion, and commitment. Peter learnt about the danger of this the hard way, but he also discovered the gentle and compassionate way in which Jesus restored him.
Jesus knows everything about us. He knows the condition of our heart; He knows every thought and attitude that we have throughout every day and night. There is nothing hidden from Him. Therefore, He will know if we try and tell Him that we love Him more than we do. This was how it was with Peter, and Peter maintained his position by insisting on using the word ‘phileis’. His statement was in line with his heart, no longer bragging that he would remain loyal to Jesus, even if the others didn’t.
We need to be realistic in what we declare about our love and commitment to Jesus. There is no room for bragging; there is no room for false or empty words. Instead we must be like Peter and be honest about where we are at. This may mean that there could be times when we have to be like the man who asked Jesus to help him in his unbelief, when we have to ask Jesus to help us to love Him more, to help us to remain faithful to Him through difficult circumstances.
When such times come we can be sure that Jesus will be walking with us to guide us through such times.