"When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'" ~ John 21:15
This past Sunday's gospel reading we heard about the 3rd time Jesus appeared to His disciples after his resurrection. They had been out in their boat fishing (unsuccessfully) when Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. They obeyed and caught 153 fish - so many they couldn't bring the net in. When Simon Peter realized the man on shore was Jesus, he jumped from the boat and went to him while the others towed the net full of fish in.
On the shore, Jesus had a charcoal fire going and when they landed, He invited them to eat with Him. After the meal, Jesus asked Peter 3 times "Peter, son of John, do you love me?" Each time Peter responded "Yes, Lord, you know I love you."
It's easy for us to understand that Peter might be a bit embarrassed or hurt that he was asked the same question over and over. Perhaps it reminded him of the 3 times he had just denied knowing Jesus. (John 18: 15-27)
The English translation of this passage is lacking. In English, we have one word for love that encompasses a whole range of different kinds of love. The Greek text actually uses 3 different words that describe different kinds of love.
Storge is a rarely used word for the kind of love that sort of means 'I love you because there's something in it for me.'
Philia is affectionate regard or friendship - it can be described as 'brotherly love.'
Eros is a passionate love-it is a term for someone you love more than Philia. It is a love of attraction and longing.
Agape is true love. The kind of love you'd lay down your life for.
So if we read the passage with the Greek -
Jesus asks Peter the first time "Peter, son of John, do you Agape me?" and Peter replies "I Philia you" (I love you like a brother). Jesus replies "Feed my lambs."
Jesus asks Peter a second time "Peter, son of John, do you Agape me?" and again, Peter replies "Lord, you know I Philia you." Jesus replies "Tend my sheep."
(I imagine Peter feeling like 'I'm sorry Lord, I can only love you as a brother, I'm not to that higher level yet.')
But the third time, Jesus asks "Peter, son of John, do you Philia me?" and Peter replies "Yes Lord, I Philia you." and Jesus replies "Feed my sheep."
Notice that Jesus comes back to where Peter is (not the other way around). As if to say 'It's okay, Peter, if you can only Philia me.'
Some of us may only be at the point in our relationship with Jesus that we can storge (love) him because there's something in it for us. We don't feel that deeper bond yet.
I would suspect that many of us are in the Philia stage - we love Him as a brother or a friend. This is more than storge, because we see the beauty in Him and we love Him not just because it's good for us but because we want to and we truly feel an affection for Him.
We may never get to the Agape stage, and you know what? Jesus says 'that's ok, I'll meet you where you are.'
Isn't it awesome to know that no matter where we are on our journey, Jesus says 'it's ok, I'll come to you'?
Your challenge this week is to create a project using this scripture or another verse that reminds you of God's unfailing love. When uploading your project, please use keyword ODBDBVT77 and then hop over to Our Daily Bread Designs Forum and share it with us!
Stamps Used: Our Daily Bread Designs - Sheep