I like to imagine that first Easter weekend, and think about what the people that knew Jesus were feeling as the weekend progresses. The disciple, Peter, is a favourite of mine. He screwed up so badly, but Jesus loved him and he went on to do great things, which is a proof that nothing can stop God using us, even when we get it super-wrong.
Anyway, I was thinking about him today. I imagine that after the crucifixion and his passionate denial, he was feeling pretty bad.
He told everyone “I’m off fishing!” (John 21:3) He basically was going back to doing what he had done before he met Jesus. While he’s out finishing, Jesus shows up at first nobody recognized hime but a short while later, though nobody says anything, they ALL know who it is.
After a good breakfast, Jesus asks Peter a very leading question. He says to Peter “Peter, do you love me more than these“… (I’m not sure if he was referring to the fish, or the other fishermen). Peter replies “You know I love you Lord”
I love languages, and sometimes find that English is a little limited. In the Greek there are several words for LOVE. Three of those are:
- Agape: God’s kind of unconditional love
- Eros: Physical/Sensual love (erotic/romantic)
- Phileo: Brotherly love, friendship
In this massage in John 21, Jesus twice says “Do you love [agape] me?”
And Peter replies “Lord you know I love [phileo] you”
The last time Jesus asks Peter the question he says “Do you love [phileo] me?”
Each time, after Peter responds to Jesus’ question, the Lord tells him to take care of His sheep.
All this is to say, that the first and foremost ministry we have in life, is loving Jesus. When we love him we will be able to fulfill the calling he places on our lives.
Jesus knew that Peter wasn’t able to completely love him unconditionally… He KNEW that and yet still commissioned him. There is hope for us!
I think Peter was still lost in his denial of Jesus. He must have felt awful, guilty, and useless. He could see Jesus had been raised from the dead, but he did not yet have a revelation of what that meant for humanity. Later, after he is baptized in the Holy Spirit he grasps the Gospel message and preaches with power, teaching and preaching to the Lord’s sheep.
That revelation of what God has done, compels us to love him!! Not because we are obliged to, but because we can’t help it. The gratitude we feel when we truly see what Jesus accomplished for us is immense, and from that position of loving God we too can go out and do great things.
Happy Easter! He is RISEN!