A test is designed to assess learning over a given period of time. What has the student learned, and, specifically, is there a “gap” in learning? A gap means that key pieces of knowledge and understanding are missing. Until that gap is filled, progress is not likely. Sometimes, the gap can only be filled through continual reteaching.
In John 21:15–19, Christ’s repeated questioning reveals Peter’s learning gap and challenges him to put away pride and walk in sacrificing love. Before he denied Jesus three times Peter claimed to love Jesus more than the other disciples loved Jesus (vv. 15, 16). Now, during this resurrection appearance to the disciples, Jesus used the word agapas, asking Peter the question, “Do you love me?” Agapas refers to an all-giving and unselfish love that focuses on someone else’s benefit. It is interesting to note that Peter answered Jesus using the word philio, a friendly and mutual affection between two people.
It is also important to note that Christ never asked Peter to apologize for his denial. He doesn’t throw Peter’s failure in his face. Instead, He asks a third time, “Do you love me?” Peter’s response reveals his continued focus on himself yet his growing understanding of Christ’s omniscient power. Jesus revealed that Peter would, eventually, come to an even greater understanding of what it means to walk in love. He attempted to fill Peter’s “learning gap” through a two-word command. No matter what happens in life, Peter should do one thing: “Follow me” (v. 19). Follow God and lead others to God out of an all-giving and unselfish love that is based on God’s own love for him (and for us). Christ never reprimanded Peter for his need to continue to learn. As our Master Teacher, Christ continued His life-giving lessons.
>> Think about your spiritual growth in recent months. What is your learning gap—an area you realize you need to grow in? Read God’s Word, and ask Him to help you fill this gap and follow Him more closely.
How would you answer Christ’s question in today’s reading: “Do you love me” (John 11:16)? Ask the Lord to show you how to walk closer to Him and love Him more.