Right Division Blogs

What Love Is This

Valentine's Day is a religious holiday that only one religion connects any religion to it. The background and research is so flimsy that Valentine could have been one of three saints or no saint at all. The holiday is depicted by boxes of candy, red hearts, little make believe angels called cupid (angels in the Bible have no wings.) Nothing about salvation, heaven, hell, resurrection, the cross, etc., are connected to this day. Even though Valentine Card sales are only #2 in regard to Christmas cards, the day does not leave much impression outside of erotic, romantic or frivolous.

Though touted as a symbol of love and kisses, it seems to project absolutely nothing of any substance. The U.S., Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France and Australia are the only nations to participate in Valentine's Day. Woman purchase 85% of the cards. The whole scenario above is far removed from the God Who introduced true love to the world. The first mention of love in scripture is the love of a father for a son (Genesis 22:2) The greatest example of love was the Father giving His only begotten Son (John 3:16.)

We hear so much today about loving our neighbor, but the first mention of love in the New Testament was to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44.) The first person that we know that Jesus loved was Lazarus (John 11:3) and then the young man in Mark 10:21.

It is interesting that the first time we become aware that God loves the world is in the fourth book of the New Testament, John 3:16. Though the Bible is the greatest Book on love ever written, it is a love with principle, strength, valor, courage and fortitude. As often as God informed what to love and why, He told us what NOT TO LOVE and why.

There appears a great lesson that Christ gave to Peter in regard to love in John 21. Christ has visited with the disciples a couple of times after His resurrection, but obviously things are not what they should be. Peter has quit the ministry and influenced some other disciples to go back to the secular profession of fishing with him. One morning Christ precedes them to the sea and prepares them breakfast and invites them to eat with Him. After breakfast, Christ asks Peter if he loves Him. Peter does not answer as boastful as he did prior to the cross, but it is in the affirmative, to which Jesus said, "Feed My lambs." Christ continues with the second question about Peter loving Him. Peter answers in the affirmative the second time, in which Jesus says, "Feed My sheep." Jesus persists and asks the third time about whether Peter loves Him or not. This continued questioning about his love for Christ seems to grieve Peter somewhat, but he continues to answer in the affirmative.

Before a bunch of "first year Greek students" start wanting to impress people with their knowledge of the Greek words "agape" and "phileo" let me point out that whatever Christ asked, He asked it three times, He did not ask one thing one time and something else two times; the verse says precisely "the third time" (John 21:17). There are these little falsehoods floating around that Jesus used different Greek words with different meanings and that by knowing those words one would get deeper insight into what Jesus was conveying.

The Greek word "agape" (and its various forms) is supposed to mean a deep, Godly love and that "phileo" (and various forms) is supposed to be simply a humanly, brotherly love. Therefore the case is made that Christ began asking Peter if he loved Him like a brother (phileo) and increased the degree of love to the greatest "agape." The first rule of defining words of similar meaning is always context. It is easy by using a Strong's Concordance to discover that ""agape" may be used for "brotherly love" in scripture and that "phileo" may be used for God's strongest love.

Notice that Romans 12:10 and Romans 13:8 (two verses teaching the same lesson in the same epistle) use both Greek words, just as Jesus did.

What Christ was telling Peter was that if you love me, feed my sheep spiritually. How do we know it is spiritually and not physically? Because that is what Christ did for people. Only twice did He provide physical food for the people and that was only after they had spent a long time partaking of His spiritual food. This is all we have to communicate that is of any eternal value.

Before some of our medical advancements we used to "bleed" people as a form of healing. We now know that kills, not heals. Today as we lament over our dying churches, we are in essence, bleeding them instead of "feeding" them the word of God. We are cutting back the preaching and teaching services, shortening the Bible teaching and preaching times and then wondering why the crowds are leaving. Any farmer will tell you that if you quit feeding the cattle, they will quit gathering at the trough!

Christ was only giving instructions for the sheep. The goats require entertainment.

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples