Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
(John 21:17 MSG)
During a game of truth, an engaged couple was asked to admit who said “I love you” first. After hesitating for a moment, the man eventually confessed that he had said it first.
Throughout Scripture, we find that God, who is love, is always the first one to express and show His love for us. We, on the other hand, have no problem articulating our love for God, but have a hard time showing our love for Him. Such was the case with Peter. He had expressed a greater devotion to Jesus than all of the other disciples, but when put to the test, his love fell short. That is why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. He wanted Peter to realize the significance of the words “I love you.”
Pastor Charles Price once said that when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, Jesus used two different types of Greek words for “love:” agape, which is unconditional love, and phileo, which is brotherly or friendship kind of love. Jesus’ repeated question prompted Peter to finally realize that his love for Jesus was only a phileo kind of love at the time.
Take time to think about your love for God before you tell Him or anyone else that you love Him. And when you do confess your love for Him, just remember that He said “I love you” first.
This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us.
(1 John 4:10)