I’ve always found John 21:15 and Jesus’ question a bit off:
Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?
In this weekend’s reading, it occurred to me that Jesus might not have been asking what I thought he was asking. Instead of “Do you love me more than you love these?” maybe the Lord was poking, “Do you love me more than these others love me?”
I can imagine in his enthusiastic state, Peter would have said he did love Jesus most of all. He was the only disciple to suggest he would gladly die with and for the Lord. He doesn’t lose his enthusiasm–in John 21 he also doesn’t wait for the boat to pull into shore; he swims and/or wades the hundred yards to breakfast with Jesus.
Yet Peter’s answer is humble:
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
No comparison to others. Peter just loves. And good for him, he knows he loves the Lord. He seems no longer willing to place himself above or beyond others. Is this a grace of receiving mercy? Elder siblings and Peter-wannabes take heed.