The Question Begs an Answer

         While we continue our study of Simon Peter’s “comeback,” I’ve been asking myself several questions. In my opinion, his answers and Jesus’ display of confidence afterward, confirm Peter’s return. John relates the incident in the last chapter of his account, in verses 21:15-17.  If you’re “studying” with me, I’d like to invite your responses to the questions below.  Of course, I’m considering this question:  ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you truly love me?”

     Why do you imagine Jesus asked Peter the question in the first place?

     Do you think Jesus perhaps already knew the answer to the question before He asked?

     If so, why then do you suppose He’d even ask?
     Why do you think Jesus asked the question three different times?  Do you reckon Peter was hard of hearing?  Not paying attention?  We already know he often had his own agenda and was often guilty of simply not paying attention.

     Do you think Jesus asked the questions in the way you skim through them in Scripure?  Say thirty seconds or less?  Or do you think Jesus gave Peter time to think about his response before answering.  The first time, the question probably took Simon off guard.

     Why was the answer so important?  Did this figure in Peter’s “comeback?” 

     What happened after Peter seemed to answer to the question to Jesus’ satisfaction?

     If  He were to ask you the same questions, how would you answer?

       Why is that so important?

     Have you ever considered the question?  Have you answered it?

     Did that end the conversation?

     Ofen poets say what we think and feel. . . but so much more beautifully and expressively than the rest of us can do.   I love how Isaac Watts gave his answer to such a question in his great hymn: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands…deserves…and shall have…my life, my soul, my all!”

8 responses to “The Question Begs an Answer

  1. I’ve heard that perhaps Jesus asked it 3 times just as Peter denied him 3 times.

    I hadn’t thought to ask the question of myself that way. I’m going to pause and do that now. Thanks for the post!

  2. Here’s an interesting insight into the Jesus-Peter beachside exchange. (I can’t take credit for it, because I’m not a Greek scholar, but I read it in Nancy Missler’s “Way of Agape”).

    When Jesus asked Peter the first 2 times “do you love me”, He was using “agapeos”, from the word for love “agape” – that unconditional, God-like love He expects His followers to cultivate. (Remember, there are 4 different words for “love” in Greek; that tends to get lost in translation).

    Peter, already chastened, realized he wasn’t quite there yet. When he responded “Lord, You know that I love you”, he was using the verb construction for “phileos”, brotherly love or close fellowship. Essentially, he knew he wasn’t yet able to offer Jesus the undying commitment he had recently boasted of, but was saying, in effect, “You know that you are my dear friend”.

    In the third, final time, Jesus changes the question: “Do you love (“phileos”) me?” He recognizes Peter’s frail humanity, and wants to reassure him that he’s forgiven. You completely miss that in English, because both words are just translated “love”.

    Just for fun, when I found out it was two different words being used, I looked up the passage in my husband’s Bulgarian bible (there are 2 different words for love in Bulgarian, denoting different degrees of intensity). Sure enough, Jesus was asking for “luobov” and Peter was offering “obich”. Interesting. We’ve all been there, but the Lord isn’t content just to be our friend.

    Absolutely, I think that the three times was to pointedly redeem each of his three denials. Jesus is so personal in His dealings with each individual. Notice not a trace of anger or scolding there. I LOVE this story – Peter didn’t worry about being presumptuous; he just wanted to be back near Jesus! “Outta the way – I’m jumpin’ in!”

  3. peter and Jesus have a very interesting relationship.

  4. don here. Now and then I feel compelled to “comment on the comments.” Some of you have blogs and know very well what a thoughtful, sincere response means. Especailly I valued Marie’s response to the questions I raised. That is what I consider “BIBLE study” and not simply a review of the “book du jour.”
    Once, when in college, I had a major assignment and attacked it with a venom. I was heavy into apologetics and in the paper I was doing, felt I’d brilliantly defended creationism. Wise old philosopher Dr. Reynolds blue pencilled it on several of my wise answers: “Don: What is the question.”
    THE QUESTION. THAT’S THE THING AT ISSUE IN THIS CONVERSATION. “DO YOU LOVE ME? PETER, OR DON, OR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS. My achievements or intentions aren’t what matters to Him most. What He really desires is our devotion. Please help keep me reminded of that fact, and I promise to try to do the same for you. don

  5. Oh, okay. Well, I love Him. Definitely. No bones about it.

  6. shrinkingthecamel

    I like Marie’s response – I remember having been taught that same thing at some point when I was young- The third question was a different kind of love, so to speak. But then again, sometimes we need the lasar focus of repeating things until we really get it. Does anyone remember the movie “Good Will Hunting?”
    “It’s not your fault”
    “It’s NOT your FAULT”
    The third time, it really finally hit home to the character.
    I know I’m going off base from the bible, but it’s a similar example.

  7. I’m back Don and thanks for your prayers ! Marie’s response seems to be “right on.” Had Jesus me asked that question in English, I would felt that He was provoking me to really consider the question. In asking 3 times it would have definitely provoked me to reassess the question each time and dig a little deeper in the well! Yes, I love You with all my heart.

    • Great to have you back, Layne. Missed you. I can always count on you for an honest, thoughtful reply. Stay close to Christ. Let’s continue praying for each other. ~don

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