Do You Love Me?

“After breakfast, Yeshua said to Shim‘on Kefa, “Shim‘on Bar-Yochanan, do you love me more than these?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I’m your friend.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Shim‘on Bar-Yochanan, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I’m your friend.” He said to him, “Shepherd my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Shim‘on Bar-Yochanan, are you my friend?” Shim‘on was hurt that he questioned him a third time: “Are you my friend?” So he replied, “Lord, you know everything! You know I’m your friend!” Yeshua said to him, “Feed my sheep! Yes, indeed! I tell you, when you were younger, you put on your clothes and went where you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Kefa would bring glory to God. Then Yeshua said to him, “Follow me!”” (Yochanan (Jhn)‬ ‭21:15-19‬ ‭CJB‬‬)

From time to time, I like to try out different Bible translations. My phone has a Bible app called YouVersion, which has several, including one called the Complete Jewish Bible. It definitely gives a different nuance to the familiar passages, like the one above.

I really like how it distinguishes between the two different Greek words for love in the passage. Jesus asks, “Peter, do you AGAPE me?” and Peter replies, “Lord, you know I PHILEO you.”

Here, Peter’s response is rendered as “you know I’m your friend.”

What I love most about this take on these verses is how Jesus meets Peter where he is. The third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Are you my friend?”

That’s what I love about Jesus. He meets you where you are. He doesn’t demand that your love be pure and your faith be faultless. He simply wants you as you are, faults and blemishes and shameful past included.

His command to us is the same as it was to Peter: “Follow me.” It’s in the obedience and in the following that we learn to move from phileo love to agape love.

The basis of all human love starts with God’s love. We only love at all because God in Jesus first loved us and demonstrated that love fully for us.

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