Now before I continue, it is important to understand that the English translation of the Scriptures hides a very telling part of the three questions by Jesus. The first two times Jesus asked if Peter loved Him, He used the Greek word “agape” for love, while Peter would only respond with the Greek word “phileo”. There are four different Greek words used for love, but for the purpose of this message I will deal only with the two, “agape” and “phileo”. “Agapê”, is a sacrificial kind of love that asks for nothing in return. This is what God showed us when in spite of our many character flaws and weaknesses He still loved us enough to sacrifice His only begotten Son to give us a chance at eternal life with Him. Now “phileo” is the kind of love you show a brother, not a brother in the sense of family, but in the sense of kinsmenship. This is also the root used in the word Philadelphia, thus the reason they call Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love.
What John reveals to us here, is Peter admitting that he does not have it in him to show an “agape” or sacrificial love that Jesus is asking of him. However, the third time when Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him, He does so by using the level of love that Peter is at, “phileo”. When He does, Peter breaks down and tells Jesus, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." and Jesus then tells Peter;
"Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” John 21:17-18
So you see brothers and sisters, you may not yet have the capacity to love those whom you don’t like, but as Peter told Christ, “Lord, You know all things”. God knows where our hearts are and He knows where they will be in the future. Jesus promised to continue the good work He began in us when we accepted Him into our lives. Philippians 1:6 & Hebrews 12:2 If John and Peter could spend three years in the presence of God while displaying an anger that would destroy a city, or even still have a limited love that was far short of what God called for, well then my friends, I would just advise you to give it to Him in prayer, and He will work on that part in your life that finds it difficult to love those you dislike. For those who do not know Him I would ask you to also pray and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. I promise that if you are sincere in your request that He will give you a heart to know Him. Jeremiah 24:7 In time, you will see that He is true to His word; maybe one day you will even be surprised to find yourself sacrificing for someone you used to hate.
I pray that those who have ears to hear will hear His voice and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen