Jesus asks Peter the first and second time, “Do you agape Me?” Peter’s answer is, “You know I phileo You.” Our English language is insufficient to convey what is really going on in this passage. In the original Greek, we have agape: an unquestioning love, such as the love God, revealed in His Son, and phileo: a brotherly love, such as that between friends. These can also be described as agape: love from your heart, and phileo: love from your head. Jesus asked for agape, but Peter professed phileo. The Lord was asking for more than Peter could give at that time. The same happens for us today.
Just as Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus now offers him three opportunities to confess his love for Him. But this third time, Jesus changes His question to, “Do you phileo Me?” Peter is grieved! Not because He has been asked three times, but that Jesus is now asking him for LESS. God is willing to use us just as we are! If we are willing to be used, He will work His perfect will thru our sin stained lives! Is that not amazing? He will, however, always call us to more than we are currently giving, in order to grow us. Peter wanted Jesus to continue challenging him and leading him to a greater love and closeness to God.
Peter’s response says, “I love (phileo) you as much as I can for now, but I know and you certainly know that love (agape) will grow as we work side by side for the kingdom. How does Jesus work with believers side by side today? Look forward to next week!
One last thing: Jesus has in the three and a half years of His ministry removed the stone from around the diamond that is Peter and now starts the process of cutting and polishing, so that He may shine through Peter.