“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
If there was ever a time to pay close attention to what someone is saying and cherish every spoken word, that time is now because these words were the final spoken words by Jesus before He ascended into Heaven.
This date on the calendar marks 40 days after Easter. Today is the day Jesus ascended into Heaven, disappeared from His disciples’ view and sat down at the right hand of God. The book of Acts records the disciples gazing up into the sky in awe of what they just saw when two Angels suddenly appear by their side. Acts 1:11 records the Angel saying, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus’ third appearance after His resurrection is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In Jewish culture, before sharing a meal with anyone, reconciliation is made with all parties involved. This was the first meal shared between Jesus and Peter since Jesus’ crucifixion. If you remember, Peter is the same disciple who denied that He even knew Jesus three times just a couple days prior on the day of Jesus’ trial. The act of breaking bread together might not mean a lot to 21st century American Christians, but in this culture, this would have meant the world to Peter because it represented and showed Peter that Jesus had forgiven him.
After they finish their meal, Jesus pulls Peter aside and asks Him three separate times “do you love me?” This dialogue between Jesus and Peter has much deeper meaning than you may think. Before I go into their dialogue, I think it’s important to note that this section of Scripture was originally written in Greek. The Greek language has several words to denote our one word for love. Agape, Phileo and Eros all mean love in different ways in the ancient Greek language. Agape and Phileo love are the two forms of love Jesus is using in this dialogue.
Each of the first two times Jesus asks this question, He is using the Agape form of love. This kind of love is self-sacrificial, unconditional and only desires good things for the other party. This is the kind of love Jesus has for us. The third time Jesus asks the question, He changes it up. This time He uses Phileo love to convey his question. This kind of love signifies affection or brotherly love. In other words, the third time, Jesus is saying, “are you even my friend?”
What Jesus is getting at here is that it’s one thing to say I love Jesus, but the real test is tangibly showing that love to others and serving Him on a daily basis. Serving Jesus and living your life for Him is probably the toughest job you’ll ever have, but every single one of us has to ask the question, is that a mountain you’re willing to die upon?
Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Someday Jesus will return in the same way He left 2,000 years ago, but in the meantime, rest assured knowing that the pain and the suffering you’re enduring will not last. Through it all, He is with you and through it all, He’s never giving up on you and always listening to your pleas for help. While we anxiously await His return, He anxiously awaits us to call upon Him for help.
Come Lord Jesus, come!