2017-03-19 – John 21:1-14 – “Do You Love Me”
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Good morning everyone. I am so happy to see you all here today. Yesterday we had a Vacation Bible School group come here from south-central Illinois. They toured the church and we talked with them about the opportunities and challenges we have her. If they agree to take on our VBS project, they could be bringing some 30+ volunteers with them. Almost 1/3 of their church. Please keep that in prayer.
We have a couple events ahead of us being Easter service, church camp in June and Vacation Bible School in July. All of these takes planning and preparation. I hope you can find some time to plug-into some of these events. It is all to honor Jesus and the work that He has in this community for His glory. Amen?
We are finishing up with this book written by the Apostle John. Today we are going continuing in this last 21st chapter, and next week will be the last verses to of this book. It has taken us fifteen months to complete the whole book, and we will conclude with an overview the week after next. The Palm Sunday message will be rendered by our Illinois SBC President Nate Adams, and then Easter Sunday will follow. Praise the Lord for this fantastic journey through this book of John, I pray you found it as beneficial as I did as it really shows the person of Jesus Christ and His mission for us His bride the church body.
In today’s message Jesus asks Peter and us, “DO YOU LOVE ME?” It is a simple question but one that runs deep. It reminds me of that old familiar poem,
How do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barret Browning referred to Christ’s work as “poetry glorified”.
I have written a few “How do I love thee” poems through the years, and I will tell you, as I have said before, this whole Bible is a love story to us from God. PTL
Please turn in your Bible to John 21:15-19, or Page 116 in the Pew Bible. Which is the Inspired, Infallible, and Living Word of God [PRAYER]
To catch you up, in last week’s message the Disciples were in Galilee waiting for Jesus to appear. Peter got tired of waiting and basically convinced the others to go fishing. Ever hear the phrase When The Going Gets Tough…The tough go fishing!!! Jesus was the on the beach and for the second time, Jesus taught those professional fishermen a lesson in fishing, then He made them breakfast on the beach. How would you like it if Jesus made you breakfast on the beach? What a joy it would be to have such warm and loving fellowship with the Savior Son of God. One day we will, and like the song says, Oh glorious day.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
So they were still probably on the beach at the sea of Galilee and they just finished their campfire, cooked by Jesus breakfast. I like how Jesus sets the stage for the conversation that followed. He called Peter by his full name. Simon was his birth name, and unlike how we have last names, back then they referred to them specifically by their family relationships. Jesus called him “Simon, son of John” so as not to be confused with anyone else.
The other Disciples were there that day. The names of the twelve disciples are Peter, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
The disciples/apostles of Jesus are the foundation of His church, several even wrote portions of the Bible. In Revelation 21:14 it says, The wall of the new Jerusalem city will have twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles. It is evident, therefore, that God attaches great importance to these 12 men and Peter was their leader.
So in our text today, Jesus was making it specifically clear that he was talking to Simon the son of John, not Simon the Zealot, or any other Simon but Simon the one He renamed Peter. But interesting, Jesus doesn’t call him by Peter, but by Simon. Back in John 1:42, it says ” He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter and means Rock). And upon this rock the Lord will build His Church. We know that Jesus is the Rock of our salvation and “Cornerstone”, but Jesus gives Peter the mission to be His representative. This is the only time where Jesus changes a person’s name is in the New Testament. In the Old Testament God changes Abrams name to Abraham (Gen.15:7) because, he would be the father of many nations. The same with Sarai. Her name would be Sarah for she would be the mother of all the kings of nations. We can see clearly how there was a new identity and a new mission in both cases of the name changes. The same happens with Simon. Jesus changes Peter’s name to make him clearly understand his new role as the leader of the new church that Jesus is assembling. So Christ is the cornerstone of the church, and Peter is the rock or first Pastor of His Church.
In our verses here this morning, Jesus asks Peter what appears to be a simple question. Do you love me? To that Peter replies, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus then said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
It is clear that Jesus is trying to verify and make Peter acknowledge his new position as the head of the church, and to charge Peter with taking care of the flock, which are the church family members.
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Again Jesus uses his family name, instead of his given name. And it appears that Jesus is asking the same question, to which this time He concludes with the command, “tend my sheep”. The literal meaning is take care of my sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but presiding over them. Peter repeats this same Greek word “poimaino” himself later in his first pastoral letter to the elders of the churches of Asia Minor: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers” (1 Peter 5:2).
While I worked for the military, and the government, and even with John Deere, Every year we would have our new responsibilities and goals agreed upon, to which we would be measured against at the end of the year. Jesus here is clearly giving Peter his Job responsibilities and goals, to take care and watch over the church congregation.
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
This third time, the literal translation is actually “pasture the sheep”. Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd, to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest of lambs to the full-grown sheep. In continual action of nourishing and caring for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity. The task set before Peter and all shepherds is made clear by Jesus’ three-fold command and the words He chooses here.
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)
Jesus was saying to Peter that he made a lot of silly and worthless calls when they first got to know each other, but the time has come that Peter needs to step-up, to become fully mature and lead this church. Jesus is also telling him how serious this job is and that Peter himself will eventually be persecuted and killed because of his role in the church. The Bible doesn’t tell exactly us how the apostle Peter died, however the most commonly accepted church tradition is that Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome. Tradition says that, when Peter was put to death, he requested to be crucified on an inverted cross, because he had denied his Lord, he did not consider himself worthy to die as Jesus did. Ancient writers also say that Peter was put to death about thirty-four years after Jesus’ prophecy. Peter’s precise age at that time is not known.
Our last verse here today says, “after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
You might remember that when Jesus first met Peter and his brother at the Sea of Galilee, in Matthew 4:19 Jesus said “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left their nets and followed Him.… Again here Jesus says “Follow me”. He said it to Peter that day, but Jesus is also saying it to us. Follow Me.
Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”, and each time, Peter replies, “Lord, I love you”.
But there’s much more to the story than what a casual reader might surmise. In the Greek, Jesus and Peter are using different words for love. In the Greek language there are three words for love: agape, phileo, and eros. Eros is not confused with the other two because it refers to sexual love or lust. Jesus used AGAPE, the word for sacrificial love; whereas Peter used PHILEO, the love of a friend. (The same root word is used for Philadelphia as the “city of brotherly love”).
So, although Jesus is asking Peter if he AGAPE loves him, Peter was essentially saying, “Well, Lord, all I can commit to right now is that I like You like a friend.” But don’t be quick to criticize Peter for that, as it was an honest assessment of where he was at the time.
But the 3rd time was different, Jesus this time used PHILEO, essentially asking Peter if he was even his friend. That’s when Peter got so upset, as it really broke him in his spirit.
So twice Jesus used AGAPE and Peter responded with PHILEO, but the third time they both used PHILEO (friendship love).
Also note that Peter previously denied Jesus three times, and here Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him three times. And we know the end – Jesus used this experience to re-instate Peter, who later became a leader in the Church.
Notice in response to those three professions of love and faith, Jesus neither congratulates Peter nor offers forgiveness. Rather, he gives him good work to do. The work of being a leader, of looking out for the followers of Jesus. Jesus, in short, restores Peter to the discipleship community and calls him to a life of purposeful service, witness, and eventually (as the closing verse signifies) ultimate sacrifice.
Jesus told Peter that he was going to die for the Lord. Was that a horrible thing to hear? Would it be for you if you were in Peter’s place? Well in Peter’s case I think it was the opposite. Peter was broken, he was probably second guessing himself based upon everything that had transpired. Jesus was telling Peter that he was going to have faith great enough to be the kind of man he thought himself to be when he said, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matt. 26:35). He didn’t die WITH Jesus, but he knew now, according to what Jesus said here that he was going to be allowed another chance; to LIVE FOR Him, and that he would eventually die FOR Him. We can only imagine the joy and relief that he felt!
And when He had spoken this, Jesus then said to him, “Follow Me!” And Peter did just that. Peter became one of the greatest apostles and servants of Christ that has ever lived. Jesus gave Peter the privelage of having the “keys to the kingdom” (Matt. 16:18-19) and allowed him to preach the first gospel sermon to both the Jews (Acts 2) and the Gentiles (Acts 10).
So what does this mean for you and me? It means that, even though we may have failed the Lord miserably, it is not too late. Isn’t that great news? We may have failed the Lord in the past, but with humility that leads to repentance, we have another chance to prove to the Lord, and to ourselves, what kind of Christians we really are.
Peter knew that he failed Jesus and didn’t even warrant the privilege of Jesus loving on him with Agape love. Peter was humble and now he was a changed man. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, (2 Cor. 7:10-11) Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. Peter experienced this, Paul experienced this, I experienced this, and you can experience this.
One last point for you today, is that with each of these Love questions and answers, Jesus gave Peter a task. He gives us the same charge. Jesus in effect says, if you truly love me, than show it. Be my ambassador, be the servant to the people, Love the people as I have loved you.
So I hope you were able to learn a little something more about our savior and Lord Jesus here today. I can tell you what I learned,
- Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me
- Jesus forgives me, despite my many failures
- Jesus desires to use me and I choose to “Follow Him”
And in that regard, show your love to the world even though they may not deserve it.. Maybe write a few “How do I love thee” poems.
And always remember, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13: