John chapter 21: The final account of John’s Gospel
There is SO MUCH revelation in these verses especially vs 15-19 as Jesus has a conversation with Peter. I believe in this moment of time the Lord would have me to focus on what he has commissioned Peter to do: Feed my sheep!
This setting occurs after the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord. When Jesus was arrested, Peter’s faith is tested, and he denies Jesus three times. Peter was questioned in 3 different ways and each time he adamantly denies being a follower of Jesus.
Beginning in verse15 Jesus asks: Simon, son of John do you truly love me more than these? It is uncertain if Jesus was referring to the fishing boats, or perhaps the 153 fish and the revenue they would generate, or the other disciples whom Peter pridefully compared himself to when he declared he would never (Matt 26:33) fall away on account of Jesus even if the others did.
The Greek translation of the word Love that Jesus uses is Agape, a Godly unconditional love, a self-sacrificial love. Jesus asks Peter a second time: Simon, son of John do you truly love me? Again, the Greek translation refers to Agape love, an unconditional, self-sacrificial love.
Both times Peter answers: Yes, Lord you know I love you; both times the Greek translation of love that Peter uses is Phileo meaning to have affection and admiration a brotherly type of love. In Vs. 17 The 3rd time Jesus asked: Simon, son of John: Do You LOVE ME? This time the word Jesus used for love is the Greek word Phileo.
The scripture says that Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time. I cannot help but wonder if Peter was also hurt because his love for Jesus was not where it needed to be. Now that we have looked at Jesus’s questions and Peter’s responses let us look at Jesus’s commission to Peter.
In verse 15 Jesus commissions Peter: Feed my lambs. I found it interesting as I studied this response the many different viewpoints of what Jesus intended in the contrast of using lamb and sheep. I believe to be relevant to us here today a lamb or young sheep would be representative of new converts. We are so blessed as followers of Jesus to share the Gospel and witness a soul accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, this is just the beginning of the discipleship process.