So, last year, I started doing this “read through the bible” plan on the bible app. Each day (or every other day), I read about three chapters from the old testament and one from the new. My initial purpose in reading through the bible, was to gain knowledge of its contents. I’m someone who likes to see the big picture. So, because God had given us his word, knowing only bits and pieces of it wasn’t cutting it for me.
Now, let me be quite honest…. I was on the STRUGGLE bus reading some of these chapters. I especially struggled through Leviticus. The sacrifices and the law…it was all so much to read. Every now and again, I’d wonder if it was really that important. The verdict was yes…. Because it was God’s word and I wanted to know him better. As I pushed through some of the “hard to read” parts, I began to delight in reading about the journey of the Israelites. I got sucked into their story. It was like a soap opera, only it wasn’t fictional…which made it even more dramatic. They went from slavery to freedom, from obedience to disobedience to obedience to disobedience and so on and so forth. They kept on repeating this cycle.
So, as I began reading the content for day 166, I thought it was like any other day of reading….When I picked up my bible, I thought, “what are the Israelites up to now?” As It turns out, they were in a season of obedience. It wasn’t until I got to my new testament reading that I realized why God had inspired the writers to write in so much detail. He was showing us, through his word, who he was.
**Let’s skip over to John chapter 21**
One day, after Christ’s resurrection, he came to visit the disciples for a 3rd time. Several of the disciples were there including Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and two others. At dawn, after catching no fish, Jesus appears. He tells them to let down their nets again. They catch an overabundance of fish. As they all make it to shore, they find breakfast waiting for them. Then Jesus did what he does best… he served them.
***I’m not sure if my hormones were out of whack, but when I read that Jesus, who is God, was making breakfast for mere mortals, I cried!….like bawled as a baby.***
After breakfast, Jesus spoke with Simon Peter:
Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love (agapao) me more than these?
Simon Peter: Yes Lord, you know I love (Phileo) you.”
Jesus: Then feed my lambs…
Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love (agapao) me?
Simon Peter: Yes Lord, you know I love (phileo) you.
Jesus: Then take care of my sheep
Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love (phileo) me?
Simon Peter: (hurt that this is the third time being asked) Lord, you know everything, you know that I love (phileo) you.
Jesus: Then feed my sheep
My initial thoughts, while reading this, were jumbled. Jesus, who is an omniscient God, wanted to know if Peter loved him? How intimate is that? Did you notice the two different definitions of love? If you didn’t, then let me explain. The new testament was translated from Greek manuscripts, so many times we can miss the significance of the wording. The first two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, he used the agapao (verb form of agape) meaning. This type of love is exercised by will rather than emotion. It is the purest and noblest form of love, to love unconditionally and sacrificially as God loves the son and as God loves man. Peter responds with the Phileo meaning both times. Phileo love is like brotherly love. It is to have affection for another. The third and final time that Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, he also uses the phileo meaning and Peter responds with the phileo meaning of love. From what I’ve gathered, this was a heart check for Peter. Just a little while back, Peter felt in his heart that he would die with Jesus, but when things got tough, he denied Jesus. Peter was focused on his love for Jesus and not Jesus’ love for him!
Peter realized that he may not have had that agape love, but God knew his heart and still trusted him with his sheep. God still pursued him, even after three denials.
This is another beautiful example of God’s love for us! He knows who we are to the bottom of our hearts, but he still loves us and wants us! The children of Israel were so disobedient, but God continually went after them. You know it would have to take a loving God to put up with them. God had made a promise to Abraham and because of his agape love for mankind, he did not completely destroy them!
Today, if you’re struggling with thoughts of not being loved or trying to decide if God loves you any less for what you’ve done, think again! God forsook his one and only son, just to promise not to leave or forsake you and me! God loves you with an everlasting love! He WILL leave the 99 to come for you. He knows the depths of your heart and he still loves you the same! He still wants to use you…yes, you!!! Remember, God’s love is unconditional and isn’t dependent upon how good we think we are. God’s love for us is not tossed and blown like sand in the wind, but is secure and solid as a rock.