After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?”

“Yes,” Peter replied, “you know I am your friend.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon, son of John, do you really love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I am your friend.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

Once more he asked him, “Simon, son of John, are you even my friend?”

Peter was grieved at the way Jesus asked the question this third time. “Lord, you know my heart; you know I am,” he said.

Jesus said, “Then feed my little sheep.

John 21:15-19

When you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

This was a prediction of Peter’s death by crucifixion. Tradition indicates that Peter was crucified for his faith—upside down because he did not feel worthy of dying as his Lord had died. Despite the future, Jesus told Peter to follow him.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The first time Jesus said, “Do you love (Greek agape: volitional, self-sacrificial love) me more than these others?” The second time, Jesus focused on Peter alone and still used the Greek word agape. The third time, Jesus used the Greek word phileo (signifying affection, affinity, or brotherly love) and asked, in effect, “Are you even my friend?” Each time Peter responded with the Greek word phileo. Jesus doesn’t settle for quick, superficial answers. He has a way of getting to the heart of the matter. Peter had to face his true feelings and motives when Jesus confronted him. How would you respond if Jesus asked you, “Do you love me?” Do you really love Jesus?

One Year with Jesus