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25. DO YOU LOVE ME? (John 21:15-19)

BACKGROUND: Note that Peter had disowned Jesus as many times as he now confesses his love to him. See also Matt.26:33.
  1. Imagine that you have deceived your friend. When you meet him next time, he suddenly asked you: “Do you love me more than others do?” Out of what motives would you think he made you this question?
    • Why does Jesus ask whether Peter loved him more than the other disciples (verse 15)?
  2. In the original Greek, Peter uses in his answer a different verb from the one Jesus used in his question. (Jesus: Do you truly love me…? Peter: Yes, I am your friend.) Why does Peter change the verb (verse 15-16)?
    • In his third question, Jesus changes the verb to the one Peter had used all the time. (Are you my friend?) Why does he do this? (verse 17)?
  3. Why does Peter become sad when Jesus asks his third question? Think of possible explanations.
    • Before disowning his Lord, Peter had been 100% sure about his love towards him. Do you think that Peter’s love was real at that time? Give your reasons.
    • What is the reason for Peter’s love for Jesus now?
  4. Jesus today poses the same question to you as: “Do you love me?”. Is it easy or difficult for you to answer this question? Why?
  5. Why does Jesus ask this question publicly, in front of the other disciples?
    • Why does Jesus commission Peter three times?
    • If this discussion hadn’t taken place, how would Peter’s future perhaps have unfolded?
  6. What does it mean in practice to feed the lambs, to care for the sheep and to feed the sheep in a Christian church?
    • What effect did this incident have on Peter’s preaching from then on?
    • Try to imagine a “shepherd” of a Christian fellowship who doesn’t actually love Jesus. How would he carry out his ministry?
    • According to this passage, what are the people to whom Jesus gives a task to do like?
  7. Peter had disowned Jesus one month earlier out of his fear of death. In verses 18 and 19 Jesus predicts that Peter will die as a martyr. How do you think Peter took this revelation and lived with that knowledge for the rest of his life?
    • Why wasn’t Peter afraid of death any more?
    • How would you take it if you learned that you would glorify God not only with your life but also with your death (verse 19)?
  8. It may be that you have also betrayed Jesus like Peter did. Be that as it may, Jesus says to you today the same as he commanded Peter “Follow me!”. What will you answer him?

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