Do you love (agape) Jesus or merely like (phileo) Jesus?

Notes from John 21:1-17.

Matthew, Mark & Luke are synoptic gospels because they say much the same things. John is different from the rest (more miracles, more multitudes, etc.). God loves us, but do we reciprocate? In verse 2, the risen Christ reveals Himself to no fewer than 7 individuals, including Peter. At this point, Peter had denied Jesus and must have felt like a failure. But God doesn’t forget us just because we have failed. This is why Christ never gave up on Peter.

Guilt and shame will cause a person to do strange things. Peter decided to go back to fishing because it was all he knew. Sometimes we just want to quit (work, marriage, church, faith). The others decided to go with Peter. We can influence others to make both righteous and unrighteous decisions. No man lives or dies unto himself. We are not islands. We do affect others with the desicions we make.

So they caught nothing. This is an illustration. These were men who made their livelihoods on fishing. Yet they caught nothing. (What does this say about rebellion?) Christ showed up after sunrise. They didn’t know who He was. He told them to cast on the other side. (It only takes one God-sized moment to change a person’s life.)

Now their nets were full. (They were still in rebellion when God decided to bless them.) This is when the recognized the Lord. You see, the sheep won’t hear a stranger’s voice but they will hear the shepherd’s. They couldn’t even get the net in the boat so they drug it. At the shore, they found a fire built with fish and bread already prepared. There were 153 fish, yet the nets were not broken.

If you’re going to meet people’s spiritual needs, you must first meet their physical needs. Likewise, rules without relationship leads to rebellion. This is the part where Jesus scolded them. (Acceptance and approval are two different things.)

Jesus made His address to Peter only, since he was the leader of the rebellion. The fish represent the things we put above Jesus. (Do you love me more than these?) Our hearts are an idol factory. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. The first two times, Jesus used “agape” and Peter answered yes (but only with phileo love). The third time Jesus used “phileo” and Peter answered with phileo. Like today, the church is madly in like with Jesus (phileo), but too few have an agape-like love for the Lord.

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