"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:15-19
Why did Jesus require Peter to have a quality of love was incapable of having?
Is that fair?
Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Him with a godly, passionate, pure love (agape) and Peter responded honestly that he loved Jesus with a brotherly love (phileo).
There is a big difference.
If you don't think so guys, on Valentine's Day this Friday, tell your wife you love her like a sister. See how that works for you. (Reminder: I do marriage counseling)
So back to the original question, "Why did Jesus demand from Peter a level of love he was not able of giving?"
He probably did it for the same reason He required Peter to have a salvation he couldn't earn and to fulfill a ministry calling he was incapable of accomplishing. Jesus intended for Peter to trust Him and depend on Him for the divine ability to fulfill His will.
Do you remember this quote, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."? John 15:5-8
As you understand this you realize what Jesus was not really asking, "Peter do you love me" but "Peter will you trust me to love you"?
Of all that can be learned from this encounter perhaps this is the most significant truth - when God calls us to love Him He is inviting us to receive His love. When He calls us to salvation He is calling us to receive His grace. When He calls us to serve Him He is calling us to be used by His Spirit.
God's call is His enabling. Whatever He calls you to do He expects to do through you.
Give that some thought and prayer this morning.