“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.'” John 21:15
After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter to walk with Him for a bit.
This time Jesus didn’t call his disciple “Peter” (the Rock).
He called him “Simon son of John” — a rather formal title.
This was going to be a serious conversation.
Was Jesus going to bring up the time Peter tried to walk on water but sank? Or was this about the night Jesus stooped to wash Peter’s feet and he said, “No, you will never wash my feet”? Maybe Jesus was preparing to remind Peter of the chopping-off-the-ear incident in the Garden. All cringe-worthy memories.
But no, Jesus didn’t drudge up past failures.
He was focused on Peter’s future.
Jesus asked Simon, “Do you love (agape) Me more than these?”
Simon replied, “Yes Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.”
We don’t know if Jesus was pointing to the 153 fish or the other disciples by the fire, but either way, Simon Peter made no grandiose statement. (“Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.” Matt. 26:33). He kept his answer short and full of humility, admitting that his capacity to love wasn’t at the agape level. But it was enough and it was a good place to start. Jesus could use a humble man who had a heart of phileo love.
Jesus was re-making Peter,
putting him back together, giving him a fresh start,
and changing him from a fisher of men to a feeder of lambs.