When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus asks Peter if he loves (agape) Him. Peter answers of course he loves (philios – brotherly love) Him. Jesus asks him again, and again Peter answers the same way. Then a third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves (agape) Him. Jesus recognizes that Peter does not yet understand, or have as part of his experience, the agape love of the Father. At this point in his relationship with Jesus, he was only able to love Him with brotherly love, much like he would a friend. It wasn’t until Pentecost that Peter could know and receive Christ’s love through the empowering and enabling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus met Peter where he was. Jesus meets us where we are and then works toward our knowing and receiving this kind of love. Obedience and love go hand in hand. As we remain in God’s love, obedience is the fruit. We want to obey.
Jesus uses Himself as the example of being obedient to His Father. It was love for us and obedience to the Father that held Him to the cross. The cycle goes like this: God loves the Son; the Son loves us; the Son obeys the Father; we obey the Son. As a result, our joy is made complete: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9)
Jesus desires that you receive His agape love today: intimate love, the same as He has with His Father. He longs for us to love Him with more than brotherly love, with agape love. He describes this relationship in John:
Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. (John 15:4) As believers, we are the branches connected to the vine.
The branches cannot live apart from the vine. As you receive God’s love, you, the branch, will bear much fruit.
Help me to receive Your love and respond by loving You and having an intimate relationship with You. I have held back my heart in response to Your love, and I ask You to break down the walls that keep me from both receiving and responding to Your love.
In Jesus’ name, Amen