Everyone needs a day at the beach…in John 21 Jesus arranges a beach day for his disciples.
Last week we looked at the disciples as a group.
We looked at why Galilee. They were in Jerusalem and would need to be back there by Pentecost. This trip to Galilee was arranged by Jesus to show them that He was willing to meet them back at the start. His goal was to restore their relationship with Him.
The goal of this series is to determine how this small group of failed followers became fully engaged disciples who transformed the world.
This day at the beach was crucial in that transformation.
Today we will focus in on Peter.
“Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Breakfast was on a charcoal fire.
(“When they got out on the beach, they saw a charcoal fire ready with a fish placed on it, and bread.”
John 21:9 )
There are only two charcoal fires in the NT…this one and the one on the night Peter betrayed Jesus. “Anthrakia”
Jesus is reminding Peter of his sin. Why would he do that? Part of our day at the beach is facing our sin….and then:
Jesus is walking away with Peter now. We know this because in verse 20 we are told that John is following them.
Jesus is leading Peter away from the fire. Jesus is leading Peter away from his sin.
Back to the text:
Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.” Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17NET
Jesus asks Peter the same question three times.
Many see a parallel between Peter’s three denials and Peter’s three affirmations as a sort of restoration; but I am not convinced by that application.
We do not restore ourselves and Jesus showing up on the beach is already a restoration.
This is Jesus working deep on Peter’s heart.
Good Will Hunting Parallel
After the third question, Peter is grieved.
This word is used of the rich young ruler, of the disciples around the table and even of Jesus in the garden.
Jesus’ repetition is bringing Peter to the deepest level of his heart and exposing the truth.
Jesus uses agape in the first two questions…Peter uses phileo.
There are so many arguments over what these words mean!
Agape is a high, pure form of love.
Phileo is brotherly love.
Some argue agape is colder, while Phileo is more on a friendship level.
However, Jesus does not abide by this definition as He uses the love words interchangeably…so these definitions are not adequate.
Phileo and Agape are both great forms of love.
When Jesus says agape, He is setting Peter up. Peter has an out because agape is a more ethereal love…but Peter responds I Phileo you…this happens both of the first two times, with both responses prompting Jesus to say that if that were true then feed my sheep.
Jesus is working on Peter’s unwillingness to go to the Gentiles.
The three repetitions are not concerning the denials, but foreshadowing the three times the sheet will be pulled up in Peter’s vision in Acts 10.
With the third question, Jesus switches, do you Phileo Me…Peter is grieved.
Peter is grieved because he sees his own limits. He sees why he betrayed Jesus, why he is so impetuous all the time…he has this cavalier notion of love, but actually lacks the very type of Phileo love he is claiming to have.
But he engages nonetheless.
His change does not happen immediately; we can actually watch his struggles throughout the book of Acts.
But He makes it…Peter uses the word agape exclusively in his epistles, except for in one verse, where he uses Phileo.
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
I Peter 3:8-9 NKJV
True Phileo love embraces forgiveness. This was Peter’s struggle on the beach.
Our beach day is contingent upon embracing forgiveness as well.
First, our own:
Most of us arrange our meetings with Jesus…we tell Jesus what He can clean. Peter was the same. (I.e. not washing his feet).
The beach day is not our arrangement, it is His!
Secondly, our beach day demands an extension of Phileo love to others.
The church is only limited by the Phileo love of her disciples.
The explosion of the church is wholly dependent on an explosion of Phileo love by the church.
Pastor James Sanders