May 5, 2019: With What Kind of Love?
On this Third Sunday of Easter we hear the haunting gospel story where Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” It becomes a kind of rehabilitation for Peter after his three-fold denial of knowing Jesus on the way to the cross. It reminds us of the importance of making relationships right. There is another thing to see in this scene that is not noticed in English but is very clear in the original Greek. The first two times Jesus asks the question, the verb “love” is the Greek word agape, which is a self-sacrificing love. Peter responds by saying he loves Jesus as a friend. He doesn’t seem ready to acknowledge a self-sacrificing love for Jesus. Finally, the third time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him as friend. Peter responds affirmatively.
This gospel scene invites us to stand in Peter’s shoes and imagine this important question asked of us. How far are we willing to go? Do we love the Lord Jesus as we love a friend? Are we able to say that we love the Lord Jesus with self-sacrificing love?