15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: What do you think of when you hear the word love? Is heavenly love different than human love? If so, how? Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, paralleling Peter’s three denials of Jesus prior to the crucifixion. But it is how he asks him that is significant. In the first two questionings of Peter, Jesus uses the Greek word agape, which means an unconditional love that chooses the other person, even when expressing that love is not convenient or easy. And yet, Peter responds both times with the Greek word philos, which means an affectionate love that shows affinity for someone. In other words, Jesus is asking Peter if he truly loves him with heart, mind, soul, and strength and Peter is responding that he likes him. The third time Jesus questions Peter, Jesus uses the word philos. This makes Peter sad because he realizes that he has not been able to respond to Jesus with a love of faithful commitment. Peter again states his philos for Jesus and Jesus accepts this love of Peter. But he reminds Peter that one day he will experience agape love for Jesus and that Peter will choose Jesus even when it means that he must sacrifice his life for his gospel. How do you love Jesus? Do you really like him and admire him? Or have you committed your whole self to him, no matter the sacrifice that might be involved in that choice of faithful love? The good news is that Jesus can take our philos and lead us into agape love, just as he did for Peter. Are you ready to follow him?
Prayer Focus: This week pray for those who are difficult to love. Perhaps that statement brings someone specific to mind. Perhaps it is a group of people, such as those who seek to do harm to others. Whoever it is that is unlovable to you, pray for them out of the deep, grace-filled love of Christ. Agape love demands that we love even our enemies and that we pray for those who persecute us. This is the love God had for us in Jesus Christ when we were mere sinners. Imagine, as you pray, the two of you meeting, you and the one whom it is hard for you to love. Watch as God’s grace descends on you both. Read Genesis 33 and be renewed by the story of Esau and Jacob’s reconciliation and the embrace of forgiveness Esau offered to the brother who had cheated him. Ask God to bring that renewed communion to you and the ones you are called to love. Pray for peace and find it in the wide, deep, never-ending love of Jesus Christ.
Meditation Focus: Imagine a time in which you felt completely, unconditionally, and securely loved. What did it make you feel about yourself? Who was it that loved you? What fueled their love for you? Place yourself mentally in that setting and feel that way again. Picture that person with you, doing or saying whatever they did or said to express that love for you. Thank God for that opportunity to be loved. Now picture Jesus there with you and the one who has loved you so fully. Can you see that love flowing out of the risen Christ and into the one who loved you? Now watch as it flows from that person to you, filling your whole self with love. What will you do with that love? How will you love someone today with that complete, unconditional, and secure love?
Journaling Focus: Recall a time in which you had to make a commitment to follow Christ even when it was difficult. Perhaps it was a time when it would have been easier to follow the crowd, take the easy way out, or just like Jesus and his words without devoting yourself to his sometimes difficult teachings. Did you display agape love for God and neighbor or did you respond halfheartedly? What keeps us from going where we do not wish to go when Jesus calls us to follow him wholly and faithfully (verses 18-19)? Write to God, asking him to give you faith when you are weak and unsure. Ask God to reveal his way for you and your life and to give you wisdom. Above all, ask God to give you love. What will those things look like specifically in your life?
Breath Prayer: Father, give me (us) agape love.