The final encounter between Jesus and Peter is loaded with food for thought, especially as we look to the words that are used.
The English language leaves much to be desired when trying to communicate various thoughts or nuances of meaning. For instance, I have been told that the the Eskimo have about seven different words for “snow.” each word describes the type of snow. We use “powder”, “wet”, “heavy” etc in conjunction with the word ‘snow’ to gtry to get across the meaning of what we are trying to say.
Most foreign languages avoid this difficulty by having specific words for differing meanings.
Such is the case here with Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him. There are two different words used for “love.” Peter’s responses use two different words for “know.” And Jesus used two different words in telling Peter to care for the flock of God, as well as making the distinction between lambs and sheep.
Many have written about the different words for “love” used here: agape and phileo. Agape is the word for unconditional committed love regardless of circumstances or anything else. It is a decision. Phileo is the word for brotherly love, and is dependent upon the good feelings one has for another. Those feelings can change, and so the phileo quality might change.
Up until his last response given with intense emotion, Peter used the word ‘oida’ which means to perceive or to recognize based on information attained. Then he said emphatically, “You know that I love you!” There, he uses the word ‘ginosko,’ which means to come to an experiential understanding.
“Lord, you have knowledge of all things. You know by your own experience how much I love You!” But, Peter would not go the extra step of proclaiming his undying love for the Lord by using the word agape. Peter had only responded with the word ‘phileo’ even when the Lord had asked for ‘agape.’ Finally, when Jesus used Peter’s level of love, he responded with emotion and said, “That’s the best I can do!!”
Was Peter remembering his betrayal? Did he remember how he had boasted of his full commitment, only to find himself a coward?
Jesus, the Master, was unrelenting in His pursuit of Peter’s knowledge of his own heart.
He is unrelenting in His pursuit of your heart. He wants it without reservation; but with full knowledge of the truth. No false humility. No false claims of greatness.
NOTE: This is the last week for the Blogged Bible Study. Be sure to check out the other writers. And stay tuned to the various blogs of the different writers. Some are going to be doing different things that may prove interesting and beneficial for our walk with the Lord. I am looking to the Lord for my part in this.