Aloha Friday Message – May 3, 2019 – Answers with Love

1918AFC050319 – Answers with Love … ?

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   John 21:15-17 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Today I want to begin with a thank you to all the folks who sent their ALOHA for our 50th Anniversary Celebration. It was a beautiful event with a wonderful mass, renewal of our vows and exchange of additional rings. Five of Crucita’s nieces and nephews came over from NM, and the friend who was Crucita’s original Maid of Honor 50 years ago also came to be with us! My good buddy from those Air Force days was unable to make it due to health limitations, but another wonderful friend stood in for my Best Man (who is also my Godfather and sponsored by Baptism on 4/5/69). We got to show many people the effects of a Christ-Centered Marriage. Thousands of precious memories were created this past weekend. It was a powerful testimony to the Power of Love for everyone who participated.

Love truly is among the most powerful forces earthlings deal with; the strange thing about that, though, is that they often are unaware of just how powerful Love is. We know the powers of nature can certainly be formidable and can easily overwhelm our capacity to resist the immense energies they transfer onto us – sun, ocean, wind, storm, temperature, gravity, fire, earthquake, volcanoes – all of these can wipe out any of us in an instant. Love, though, can save us from the effects of many of these. Most importantly, Love can transfer an energy that is intangible to the senses but superbly self-evident to the soul. When our intentions and actions are informed by Love, great things happen. Those things can and do happen because Love is literally the Power that keeps us alive; it is the Power that created us. It is the Power that delivers to us our Salvation and Eternal Joy. When Love acts on us, we cannot help but be changed by it. Most of the time, those changes are positive and enlighten us to the Goodness of Life. Nonetheless, there are times when our sinful nature distorts the influence of love so that it leads to darkness instead of light. I have believed for many years that this happens because we misuse the word LOVE so often. Back in 2015 we had a message named Do you love me? (See 1519AFC050815) and looked at all the different ways we use that word LOVE. “I really love ___________!” we can fill in the blank with everything from peanut butter to football to music to any and all whatevers. But, what is love? And why should we care about that anyway?

In that same essay you can find examples of all of the Greek words used for love here’s a quick summary:

  • XENIA ξενία, (xenía) {zeh-NEE-ah} – hospitality
  • STORGE στοργή (storgē) {store-gee} – as with parents and children
  • PHILIA φιλία (philia) {fil-i-ah} – often defined as brotherly/sisterly love
  • EROS ἔρως (érōs) {eh-rohs} – passionate and sensual
  • AGAPE ἀγάπη, (agápē) {ah-gah-pee} – pure and unconditional love

In today’s Key Verse, we hear the exchange between Jesus and Peter as Jesus helps Peter to confess that his love for Jesus has overcome his fear of death which led him to deny Jesus three times during Jesus’ Passion. In this passage, there are some interesting combinations of words to compare and contrast. First, there are two Greek words for love used – philia and agápē. Secondly, there are two nouns used to describe sheep – lambs (ἀρνία – arnia) and sheep (πρόβατά – probata). Jesus uses two different verbs to describe how Peter is to attend to the needs of the sheep. The first is feed (βόσκε – boske) and the second is *tend (ποίμαινε – poimaine) which actually means to act as a shepherd – “shepherd my sheep.” There are also two different words – each having a unique connotation – for the verb know. The first is οἶδας – oidas which is to be aware, to behold, to consider, or to perceive as in I know, I remember, or I appreciate. The second is γινώσκεις – ginōskeis which carries the additional sense of experientially knowing through perception and discovery – through firsthand experience. I’ve prepared a little table for you to see how the words for love are used in our Key Verse:

Jesus → Peter Jesus Peter Jesus Peter
ἀγαπᾷς → φιλῶ Do you agapao me? I phileo you. Do you truly love me? I am fond of you.
ἀγαπᾷς → φιλῶ Do you agapao me? I phileo you. Do you truly love me? I am fond of you.
φιλεῖς → φιλῶ Do you phileis me? I phileo you. Do you have affection for me? You know I am fond of you.

In the first two exchanges, Peter says, “You know I love you.” This is the first sense of knowing we listed – οἶδας – oidas “Yes Jesus, you are aware that I love you.” In the third exchange, Peter says “Lord, you know [οἶδας – oidas] everything; you know [γινώσκεις – ginōskeis] that I love you.” Jesus, you have direct, firsthand experience that shows I love you.”

In this short passage of 126 words, Jesus shows to Peter and the other Apostles (as well as to you and me, his Disciples) that Peter has the authority to Shepherd Jesus flock – the new members (lambs) and the preceding members – the converts from “no religion” (gentiles) and the converts from Judaism. His responsibility is to feed and lead Jesus’ flock. Every question Jesus asks in this exchange is rooted in LOVE. We might put it like this:

“Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” Peter’s final answer is a resounding affirmation that he does indeed LOVE Jesus – Peter loves him enough to become Kephas (sometimes spelled Cephas) – Petra, The Rock. Every question is about LOVE. Every answer is love. How shall we answer when Jesus asks us, “Do you love me?”

Well, of course we all want to answer, “Yes Lord. You know I love you.” Sometimes though, that answer isn’t as solid as we’d like it to be because we are apprehensive about that possible follow-up question, “Then why don’t you act like it?” We’ve talked about this verse previously: John 14:15 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” If Jesus were to sit down with us and say, “Do you love ME? Why or why not?”, we would certainly want to answer, “Yes! I love you!” Maybe. I say maybe because maybe I think the next thing I’ll hear is a thunderous voice demanding to know

THEN WHY DON’T YOU KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS?!?

How do I, do you, do we answer that one? Let’s see:

  • Because I’m a sinner
  • I just don’t have the will power
  • My faith is weak
  • I don’t know what your commandments are
  • I don’t love you enough
  • Any or all of the above?

It all sounds pretty watered-down, doesn’t it? Jesus died for every single one of us; which of us will die for him? Even if it’s “only” to die to self and to think of other more highly than of ourselves (You may recall reading something like that in Philippians 2:1-5 early last month.) What if each of us – just you and me together – could feel confident about telling Jesus that his own personal experience with our love for him clearly demonstrates that we do, in fact, love him above all things and persons? Would he be convinced?

I am really unable to answer that even for myself. There is one thing about that which I know with absolute certainty: Jesus would answer with Love. He might even say, “Little lamb, follow me and I will be your Shepherd.” Jesus always answers with Love because Jesus’ love is all the answer we’ll ever need. And what about the times we mess up, as Peter did, and fail to keep his commandments, fail to live up to the agápē Jesus gives us? It is at those times when we should recall the Apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon. No matter how badly you’ve messed up, God always has a solution, but you are not that solution; Jesus is. Thank God for that because God is Love and Love is the Answer.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd! Why? Because “you know [γινώσκεις – ginōskeis] that I love you.”

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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