On Two Types of Love and A Dinner of Fish

I was thinking of a passage of Scripture. The passage is John 21:15. It’s a funny passage. There have been many commentaries and books to mention this passage. Three times the Christ asks Peter if Peter loved Him. Peter responds every time, “You know I love you!” It seems that either Christ sense the heart of Peter, is paralleling Peter’s betrayal, or Christ is just not hearing Peter.

It seems very weird that Christ would not hear Peter. I can see a comedian saying that Christ is really an old man losing His hearing and has always been trying to tell the young men how to make things better (or like the good old days). I seriously doubt this, since even scholars believe that Christ was in his 30’s when he died (at least not over 40).

Christ could have been paralleling Peter’s three denials of Christ by making Him declare his love three times. This could be it, but I know that the point of the repetition is more important than the repetition. What is Christ doing?

Christ also could have seen the inner thoughts of Peter and could have been working with that. I’m not sure about this one, and some can make this a psychology case, which I don’t agree with. But the text is not helpful in telling us what Peter was truly thinking. So question remains…


I started looking closer and noticed that when english uses love, it is just one word. The greek is slightly different. It has multiple words to describe the ways love is expressed. John uses two words. The first two times Christ asks Peter if he loves him, the word for love is agape, which is a love that is usually used to reference God’s love for us. It is an ultimate love, more loyal and true, and surpasses a love between two romantic interests, and even between two brothers. Christ is asking Peter, “Do love me, so much so, that there is nothing that can tear us apart. Are you loving me with the love that God loves with.”

Peter is stunned by such words, and I am sure that he is nervous. But he says something peculiar. He responds, “You know I love you,” but his word for love is phileo. Such an odd way to respond. Why use a different word? Worse yet, why use a word of lesser connotation to a friend. It seems so strange that Peter used this different word. Peter may have been a little too realistic. Or maybe he was embarrassed. Whatever the case, Peter was not confessing a love that was beyond all other loves.

The last time that Jesus asked, he finally breaks down and asks the question at the same level as Peter. He finally stoops down to the level of this poor soul who rejected him before. Maybe there is some value here. Maybe John is telling us something about Christ.

Maybe Christ has always stooped down to our level.

Maybe there are times when we are not loving in agape and we are settling for a lesser love. But I think that when it comes to life in the Church, we must learn that we are not complete. Even though Christ pushes us to be more, he might do so by speaking in our own way which most of the time is not so advanced. Whatever it is, I think Christ wants us to move forward, yet with an amazing amount of understanding for being so far behind.

What if we experienced the Church in such a way?

What if we saw the person so behind in discipline and yet encouraged him?

What if we were so creative to make sure they saw where they should be, but to see that it is okay to start in a place far away from where we should be?

I can’t help but think that that would be good for a church suffering from a people who take part in a judgment that is not theirs to take. If a man is homeless, he may not be able to show that love financially. If he is of a different nation or ethnicity, he may not be able to love well communally. If he is a business man, he may not be able to show that love with sacrifice. If he is a leader, he might not understand how to love through servant-hood as well. We should help show all souls that they are not in the place where they should be, but we should show them that Christ is still with us. Although Christ wants us where we should be, He us reaching His hand to where we are.

So love others…

But don’t forget to be understanding, creative, and encourage people toward the Kingdom…

Here on earth.

And when you feel like you don’t understand where God is taking us, take comfort in the fact that God accepts us where we are, but only with the intention of making you walk to where you should be.

Grace and Peace to you all.


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