Jesus Loves Us Where We’re At {And How I Want to Love Him Back}


There are some things the English language can not explain thoroughly. John 21 is one of them for no matter which English translation you read, you don’t get the full story.

It’s the only passage I can think of where the word LOVE does not do justice.

You know the one–where Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves Him. Three times (Read HERE).

But the story changed for me when I read the original Greek (and by that, I mean a commentary which explained it to me*). You see there are a few levels of love. This portion of scripture uses two, and it’s what makes the story applicable to you and I.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used the form of agapao (agape) love. The selfless, sacrificial kind of love. The same kind of love we find here:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Peter responded that yes, he did love Him, in the phileo sense. The friendly, brotherly kind of love. Which, at first glance, I get because let’s face it — I don’t hear too many men confessing love for each other — a radical kind of love at that.

So Jesus asked again. Giving him a second chance…

A part of me thinks Peter was simply being honest with where he was at the time. For he had failed Jesus. He had shown doubt. He had proof he hadn’t given his all — the way agapao love requires.

But Jesus…in grace-like fashion…steps down to the level we’re Peter’s at. And accepts us him where he is as He asks Peter a third time:

“Peter, do you phileo love me?”

Jesus didn’t belittle him like He could have. He didn’t scold him for failing.

Still it hurt Peter. Maybe because it was the truth. I’m expecting he felt guilty. I feel like I get Peter, so I’d even be willing to bet there was a bit of pride blocking the way of him fully surrendering.

This is where love takes hold as Jesus reminds Peter of where he’s been and where he’s going. He showed Peter he had agapao love in him –he displayed it as a child. And He prophesied Peter would achieve it once again, even in his own death. (READ HERE).

Friends, a part of me wonders if Jesus was asking one of His closest friends — would he do the same thing Jesus was planning on doing for him?…and Peter couldn’t, at the time, say he would.

I get Peter. I really do.

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus…from loving him us that way. In agapao form–sacrificial. selfless. relentless love.

I adore how Jesus encouraged Peter by showing he is capable of such love. For, friends, it’s how God’s designed us.

This is the very kind of love we’re made of.

For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Ephesians 1:4

God’s been revealing this Lent what’s been standing in my way of giving agapao love. He’s been peeling back layers of pride, self-doubt and guilt I’ve been harboring for years. And I’m guessing soon, in Peter-like fashion, I’ll be ready to do something about it. In fact, I’ve already begun taking steps the way Jesus suggested in this very passage:

“Then feed my lambs…take care of my sheep…follow Me”

Okay, Jesus. You’ve got a deal. You keep working on me and I’ll keep sharing about You. I’ll feed Your sheep with my story. I’ll stretch myself to help those who need it. I’ll search for the lost ones and show them the way as I follow You Home.

Because, Jesus, I love You, too. I really do. I just need Your help of taking away everything in me that doesn’t.

This song is my Lenten prayer.

Father, burn away the ropes that bind until only agapao love remains… (Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in).

Only Love Remains

by JJ Heller

How about you, friend? Do you relate to Peter? Do you agapao love Jesus? How do you show it? How do you feed/take care of His sheep? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


* I wish I remembered which commentary I read this out of years ago so I could give them credit. I can not find it, but do have a book on my bookshelf that talks about this portion of scripture really well: Deeper into the Word New Testament by Keri Wyatt Kent (pg 116-118) found HERE.  (I’m not an affiliate)

19 thoughts on “Jesus Loves Us Where We’re At {And How I Want to Love Him Back}

  1. This is a lovely song – new to me! Thanks for sharing it. I have always loved reading how much Jesus loved Peter, Judas, all His disciples even though He knew what was going to happen. His is the ultimate example of agape love, and something that I strive towards each day…..although I have a long road to go.

    • It does give us something to press on towards, doesn’t it. I tend to wonder if it would work for me to view achieving agape love as my prize…thanks for sharing with me, Aurie. Praying for you!!

  2. This is the same thing that has been on my heart during Lent. What keeps me from loving with abandon with all that I am? Pride, fear. I have been asking Him for more of Him and less of me knowing that it is the only way I can love like He loves. And that is my deepest desire today. So thankful for your heart shared here friend. Love you much.

    • Oh yes, this is me too, Wendy. It’s no wonder we’re soul sisters… Now, if I could just get over myself and accept what He’s offering. an every day surrender…that’s what I’m after. and all this work to get there? worth it… Love you, friend.

    • It’s so good…I sing it around the house so much, my 4 year old knows all the words!:) Which is a bit odd while going down the grocery store aisle and the passer-bys hear him singing about murder in his heart…;) I just pray they follow us around long enough to hear the full story!;)

  3. Thank you girl. Beautiful song that I hadn’t heard before… It’s amazing to realize the depth of the scriptures that I will never fully understand here. So yes, Lord Jesus help me love like you do. Show me what that looks like here and now, amen girl! ~ Love, Amy

  4. I love the story of Peter and this one especially. Have you read The Fragile Stone? It’s all about Peter and his growth in grace. I am Peter much of the time but I take comfort that through the grace of Christ, Peter became the rock. He will complete the good work he started.

    • I have not read The Fragile Stone, but it’s going on my must read list! Thank you, Christina! I’m feeling so close to Peter lately…I think that will help me sort through some of it. thank you!

  5. Nikki, it’s a beautiful thing to witness the way you and Jesus relate to each other. You are such a blessing to me, girl! Humbled and honored that you share your journey. (((big hug)))

  6. Holy Holy Holy! He is using you mightily, sister. Mightily. This, right here, “Because, Jesus, I love You, too. I really do. I just need Your help of taking away everything in me that doesn’t.” Oh, AMEN!!!! I’m praying it with you in my feeble Peter-like fashion.

  7. Nikki, in the last couple of years of your blog, I have watched Him grow you, mold you, teach you, and ready you for this ministry you have here. It has been amazing to see how your writing has grown with His story being shared before hundreds if not more. And I thank God for you each time I stop in to read and be fed. I miss interacting with you more but life, ages, circumstances take us each in different directions. But you’re always in my mind and heart, and I’m so proud of the woman of heart and God you present to us all. Blessings, dear one!

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