I remember two friends who were inseparable. Having not seen either for a while, I encountered one and asked, “How is ____?”

His response: “We haven’t seen one another in a while.” I paused and asked, “You two were close, what happened?” He told me in exacting detail how his friend had offended him. He concluded by saying, “I will never talk to him again.”

I walked away thinking, “I never saw that coming.”

Have you ever witnessed two friends turn away from one another? How about a marriage dissolved that you considered perfect? Or a child who will not talk to a parent?

At my age, I will not be developing friends of 20, 30, or 40 years anymore. Yet in those 20, 30, or 4o years of friendship, each of my friends has done something to offend me. I have also offended them. Same with my marriage and with my children.

Walking through forgiveness allows enduring friendships. Some relationships continue after an offense, but the forgiveness isn’t deep enough, so there is still polite association but no relationship.

The friendship is a shell.

Peter was a friend of Jesus. It is difficult to find a greater betrayal of friendship than Peter’s three-time denial of Jesus.

Jesus said to Peter, “Peter do you love me?”

Peter replied, “Yes, Lord I like you.”

Jesus to Peter, “Peter do you love me?”

Peter’s reply, “Yes, Lord, you know that I have more affection for you than anything.”

Jesus to Peter, “Peter, do you want to be my friend again?”

Peter, feeling great sorrow for his betrayal of Jesus, said, “You know that I want to be your friend. Is it even possible for me to be your friend again?”

This conversation is a very loose OGV (Old Guy Version) of John 21, when Jesus had a conversation with Peter, after Peter’s denials. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”

Jesus still wanted to be friends with Peter. Peter was soon to preach the initial sermon of Christendom with his Acts 2 message on the Day of Pentecost. Peter needed deep forgiveness.

Three times forgiveness!

Jesus uses two words: “agape” for the most faithful and serving love; and “phileo” which can be translated “like” “affection” or “friendship.”

In the first two questions of love, Jesus uses the word “agape” to which Peter replies using the word “phileo,” indicating that Peter would not, and perhaps could not, confess that he was capable of the most in-depth, faithful, and serving love of “agape.”

Peter said, “Jesus, you know that I like you. I have more affection for you than anything.”

The depth of Jesus’s friendship and love of Peter is expressed in the third exchange when Jesus uses the word “phileo” instead of “agape.”

Jesus to Peter, “Peter, do you want to be my friend again?”

Peter, feeling great sorrow for his betrayal of Jesus, said, “You know that I want to be your friend again. Is it even possible for me to be your friend again?”

Jesus restored Peter to be his friend again. He didn’t overlook the sin, which is why Jesus used the word “agape” indicating Peter’s failure. But with the last question, Jesus essentially asked Peter to be His friend again.

Amazing.

Yes, you can forgive a friend for their offense, but you will never understand “agape” love or even the “phileo” of true friendship until you have offended someone…

…and they still want to be your friend.

Jesus wants to be your friend. The love of Jesus toward Peter gives the example that Christ still wants to be your friend in spite of your betrayals. This agape/phileo of Jesus should be received and then extended to your own friends.

It is the only way to have friends of 20 0r 30 or even 40 years.