Fusion tonight: Do you love me?

My little part of Fusion was assigned John 21:15-19:

15:So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love(a) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love(p) You ” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

 16:He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love(a) Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love(p) You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

 17:He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love(p) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love(p) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love(p) You ” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

 18:“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

 19:Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

The English word “love” comes from two different Greek words: agapao (a) and phileo (p).

Agapao= love in a social or moral sense

This is the love that Jesus commanded and taught over and over specifically throughout John.

Phileo= the love of a friend;”to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling.”

Strong’s says that agapao is “wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.” In a sense, Peter is offering feeling and affection while Jesus is calling Peter to a choice to love.  I would suggest that Peter is well aware of the weakness of the love he can promise Jesus.  He had made great promises to Jesus earlier and broken them with shame.  Jesus offered a chance to walk into a love that would most certainly be beyond Peter, but a love that he would need to live what Jesus had planned for him.

Thematically, John brings the question to a very personal level. The fusion group has studied and Peter had watched Jesus for awhile, and John comes to the end of the book with a series of personal questions: Do you love me? Do you love me beyond friendship, beyond your old way of life, beyond the neatness of what you know how to do? Do you love me beyond the fun of friendship, beyond the good times together? Do you love me enough to live and die with me, like Peter promised but didn’t follow through on?

Sidenote: This is where being able to look at the Greek is helpful. In the English translation, there is not a noticeable difference between the two different types of love, and there is little explanation for Peter’s grief in John 21:17. Clearly, Jesus is responsive to Peter’s response, and Peter ends up grieved by Jesus’ response.


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