In reading Win It All: The Way to Heaven for Catholic Teens, I came across this interesting passage. I've never heard the story told this way. It does provide an important insight (as well as illustrate difficulties in translation).
The Gospel of John (21:15-19) tells of a somewhat strange conversation between the risen Jesus and St. Peter along the shores of the Sea of Tiberius. Jesus and the disciples had just finished breakfast when the Lord began to question Peter: 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' The original Greek translation of the Bible reveals that Jesus used the most intimate form of the word love, agape.
Peter responds to Jesus clearly: 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' There was a difference in Peter's word choice for love however. The Greek New Testament records Peter using the word phile, not agape, for love. Phile describes a less committed form of love. It is the type of love two friends might have for one another.
Jesus asks Peter again: 'Simon, agape?' Peter answers the same way: 'Yes, Lord, phile?'
The conversation is not over. Jesus says: 'Simon, Son of John, do you love me?' This time, Jesus has restated the question and used the same word that Peter used, phile. Jesus loves Peter so much that he is willing to meet the level of love and commitment that Peter can provide at this time. . . [Jesus] wants you to offer all that you have. He wants your whole life. . . But, as with Peter, for now he will accept whatever level of love and commitment you can muster.