“‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’” (John 21:15)
One of the most famous dialogs in the New Testament between Our Lord and Simon after resurrection. Because Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, now there are also three questions: “Do you love me?” And the opportunity to answer again, and again, and again. Threefold denial — and now threefold declaration or confirmation of Peter’s love. This is how we generally understand this scene. But maybe there is one more option of understanding this scene, in a deeper sense.
Our Lord asked Peter: “Do you love me?”, which means, in Koine Greek (the Greek of that time): “Agapas me?” – and this is a word for unconditional love. Peter answered: “Philo se,” using the word which describes an affection that could denote friendship or brotherhood. It is as if Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love me unconditionally?” – and Peter answers: “You know, Jesus, I like you so much, you are a good friend, the best in my life.”
So Our Lord asked him again. And again the same thing happened. So, Jesus asked him for the third time. And also this time he wasn’t upset or offended that Peter didn’t understend his invitation to a true relationship, and He asked him: “Philo me?”. Peter answerd” “Philo se.” “Do you ‘like me?’ ” – “Yes, I like you so much.” It was more important for Jesus to meet Peter at his level of love than to force him to declare more or to reject him. We know, that the last word of Peter’s, at the end of his life, was AGAPAS SE. I LOVE YOU, MY LORD!!!
Our Lord loves us unconditionally. And he is patient. He can wait for us until we grow up.
“Christ loved us and washed us clean of our sins by his Blood, and made us into a kingdom, priests for this God and Father, alleluia” (Entrance Antiphon)