November 15 (Daily reading: Luke 24; John 20-21) The Gospel of John closes with a dialogue between Jesus and Peter. Three times in chapter 21, Jesus asked Peter a question: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter answered in the affirmative all three times. Jesus replied to him: “Tend My lambs,” “Shepherd My sheep,” and “Tend My sheep.” (vv. 15-17). The use of two Greek words for love may help us to understand the dynamic of this story. Jesus used the verb agápē, which is used to define the love of God (John 3:16) and to describe our love in Christ for one another (John 13:34). Peter used the word philéō, which denotes kindly affection as in a close friendship. John noted that “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’” (Jn. 21:17), because that time, Jesus Himself used philéō. He asked basically, “Do you love me even as a friend?” Peter answered philéō, honestly expressing his love to the fullest extent that he could at the time. Jesus accepted this and called Peter to do the work of a pastor.
There is so much grace in this story! Three times Peter had denied His Lord, and now three times he had declared his love for Him. Jesus does not love us and call us because we are perfect, but He knows when He calls us what our full potential can be. We do not have to be perfect, but we must be available. We may be prone to make mistakes, but we can respond to the same call that Peter heard: “Follow me!” (Jn. 21:19). This to me is the icing on the cake of grace. He saves us by His grace, thus preparing us for heaven; then He calls us to service by His grace, thus preparing us for our life upon this earth.
– Al Gary