Love or friendship

Do you love me more than these?
John 21: 15

 There is an interesting play on words in today’s Gospel that English-speaking readers might miss.

Jesus lovingly confronts Peter, asking him if he really loves Him. Peter responds that he loves Him like a friend.

In the first two questions, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, ἀγαπᾶς – with the whole-hearted love of agape. Peter answers that he loves him like a friend – φιλῶ.

In the final question, Jesus asks Peter if he is His friend.

Are we just friends of Jesus or do we really love Him? Do I really love Jesus with all my being – or am I satisfied with being His friend?

Yes, I’m a Christian – but the real questions is if I am a disciple.

The final word of Jesus to Peter in today’s Gospel (v. 19) is important for us: “Follow me.”

Following Jesus means going where He dared to go, living as He dared to live. It means loving, giving oneself to God, and going out to others.

It means, as Jesus told Peter, going where we’d rather not go – even though Jesus has gone there before us.

Where would I rather not go? Maybe that’s where Jesus is leading me.

Will I follow as a disciple? or be content with just being a friend?



One response to “Love or friendship

  1. Thank you, John, for clarifying this reading. It has always been one of my favorites; in fact, Peter has always been dear to me because of his human frailties. I, too, have often thought of Jesus as a friend. The other meaning that you suggest is much more difficult – but necessary.

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