top of page

In the friend zone

    John 21:15-17

    "15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.”

    There have been many sermons preached on this passage of scripture. Generally all of them carry the same notion; that since Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus had to ask him if he {Peter} loved Him {Jesus} three times. That is true but it is a very superficial examination of this very important passage. Therefore, I would like to point out the following. 

    First of all, Jesus called Peter the son of Jonah all three times He asked him if he loved Him. He did not refer to Him as Simon Peter- the rock who had the revelation that Jesus was the Christ. This alludes to the fact that Peter was very much in His flesh and thus was thinking with his natural mind. Jesus therefore took Him back to his relationship with the natural and who he was in the line of the house of Israel. Peter was the son of Jonah and the fact that Jesus said this jolted Peter into a mindset of the law. The law is what drives people toward Jesus when they realize there is nothing they can do to atone for their sin and mistakes. In effect, Jesus was pointedly showing Peter that he was helpless without Jesus. 

    Second, Jesus asked Peter twice if he {Peter} loved Him {Jesus} using the Greek word “Agape” which is the type of love humans have for God. The first time Jesus asked if Peter “agaped” Him more than he “agaped” his friends. The reason this was necessary was so that Jesus could illuminate Peter’s own heart. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we “agape” Him then we will keep His commands. If He is our God, we will do what He tells us to do. If we value the influence and accolades of other humans, we will disobey God. So Jesus was verifying to Peter that he indeed did agape Jesus enough to follow Him even when it meant being unpopular. However, Peter did not love Jesus that way. He stated in response that He “phileoed” Jesus, which means that he loved Him with friendship love. Peter, in his heart, put Jesus in the same category as his human friends. This was profound, and that type of affection toward the Lord lead to Him giving Peter the mandate of providing the Word of God to new converts- or “feeding the lambs.” The second time Jesus asked Peter if he “agaped” Him, Jesus removed the qualifier. At this point God was beginning to yield to where Peter was spiritually. Peter was still putting God in the friend zone. Again, Jesus gave Peter a mandate to “tend his sheep.” This literally meant that Peter was to rule over or govern the older, more mature converts… as a guide. 

    Finally, Jesus yielded His own desire to match Peter's heart disposition. Jesus asked Peter at last if he “phileoed” Him- or loved Him as a friend. Peter again confirmed that this is how he saw Jesus. Jesus’ final command to Peter was to feed the sheep. This, in effect is providing the Word of God to the older, more mature converts. 

    Understanding the actual words translated simply as “love” hear in John 21:15-17 reveals the truth that as an un- Spirit filled believer, Peter was simply incapable of loving God as God. Thus, he was unable to fully manifest God to the lambs and sheep of God. At this point Peter was only able to present the word of God as He understood it. 

    The Word is the principle thing, it is even magnified above the name of God. {Psalm 138: 2b} So God wants His Word to reach the eyes and ears of people- without question. However, more than that, God desires to perform His Word. He desires people to read His word and walk in faith to receive the promises given therein. All that Peter could do was present the Word. He could not manifest the will of God beyond that because he did not yet have God in the proper column- the God column. It was after the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts chapter 2 when Peter finally came to the point where gaining camaraderie and praise from men didn’t mean more to him than the praise of God. {See Acts 5}

    It was the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changed Peter and it is the baptism of the Holy Spirt that will change you from someone who puts God in the same column as your friends to putting God at the head of all the columns and above all else. To make God your head and to “agape” Him above all of your”phileo” relationships is to truly love God and man because it is then, and only then, that you can manifest the will of God to reverse the works of the devil!

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The True Meaning of Love

Love is often portrayed in media and culture as just a feeling - the butterflies in your stomach when you're with someone you're attracted to. But the Bible presents a very different picture of love i

Hamas and the Psalm 83 War

The recent flare up between Israel and Hamas has many Christians questioning if this could signal the beginning of end times events prophesied in Scripture. I have extensively studied this issue and,


bottom of page