Have you ever been asked this question: “Do you love me?” Chances are you have at some point in your life. It’s kind of an uncomfortable question, isn’t it? How did you answer when you were asked that question? Did you get upset? Did you say “Of course I love you?” Or did you say “No, I don’t love you.”
Have you ever wondered why someone would ask that question? Could it be that they needed assurance, or maybe they just didn’t know if you did? Or did they ask for another reason?
Jesus asked Peter that question in John 21:15-17, not once, but three times, the same number of times that Peter denied Jesus a few verses earlier. Have you ever wondered what Peter must have felt when he heard that question three times in succession? Could he have been frustrated or upset? Could he have been confident? Could he have been saddened? You wonder, don’t you, if he even answered a different way each time Jesus asked the same question. There’s a little clue in the scripture passage as to how Peter felt, and it’s stated in verse 17. Depending on the translation, the Bible says that Peter felt upset, hurt, or grieved.
In the English versions we see the word “love” in the question “Do you love me?” but if you look at the Greek, you will notice that Jesus used the word agape-the highest form of love-for love the first two times He asked Peter the question, but Peter used a different word, phileo, for love in his responses. Phileo refers to friendship, and that’s how Peter loved Jesus, but Jesus was referring to agape love, which means complete and devoted, sacrificial love.
Peter basically said that he loved Jesus as a friend when Jesus was asking for devoted love from Peter. How do you love Jesus?
What’s wonderful about this question is that it gives us insight into the kind of love that Jesus has for us. Jesus isn’t wanting a friendship love from us, nor is he offering a friendship love to us. He is offering a complete, devoted, sacrificial love, and he is wanting to know if we love Him back that same way.
Do you know what it is like to be loved with a complete love, a love that is faithful and true no matter what? For many of us, we never experienced that kind of love before, well, at least before Jesus came into our lives.
Today, Jesus is offering us His complete and faithful love. The love He offers is real, and He has already proven it by His sacrifice on the cross.
Today, are you brave enough to ask yourself, “Do I love Jesus?” Do you agape love Jesus, or do you phileo love Jesus?
May our prayer be that as we walk daily in agape love with Jesus, we will grow in agape love for each other.