Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Feed My Sheep

John 21:15-25

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15a)

After they had eaten the food Jesus had prepared for them, Jesus asked peter if he loved him more than these.  Many have taught Jesus was asking if Peter loved him more than his fishing career, and as we see in scripture that is a very important question but Jesus’ question had a different point.    Petrer had been very proud when he said he would never deny the Lord.  In fact, Mark 14:29 tells us, “But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.”  Peter was in effect saying,  I love you more than anyone else.  Jesus was asking if Peter still thought he loved the Lord more than anyone else. 

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

 Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:15b-17a)

Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him.  Each time Peter answered yes, but the third time he was kind of frustrated that the Lord kept asking him the same question.   He felt like the Lord didn’t believe him because he’d denied him.    

“Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” (John 21:17b-19)

The Lord was driving home the point that even those who think they are the strongest mess up from time to time.  Each time Peter responded , “I love you,” Jesus commanded him to feed the sheep.  If we love the Lord, our job is to feed the Sheep, whether they are the new Crhistians who have recently been saved, or people who have served the Lord for fifty years.  It is our job to see that they receive the teaching and encouragement they need to grow and stay strong in the Lord.  We shouldn’t get proud and refuse to work with them because they aren’t living up to our standards, and don’t love the Lord as much as we do.  At the same time we shouldn’t quit because we messed up.  As Jesus explains, as a young man, Peter was able to do pretty much what he wanted, but the time would come when he was no longer able to feed and dress himself or decide where he wanted to go.     In fact, in Peter’s case they would take him out and crucify him. 

“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” (John 21:20-22)

People don’t like focusing on their sin or weakness, so Peter attempted to redirect attention, Asking what John was going to do.  What John did or didn’t do would not affect Peter at all.  Peter needed to focus on serving God himself instead of worrying about what the others were doing.    God would decide what happened to John. 

“Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:23-24)

Jesus had said that some of them would not die until the Lord’s return.  Luke 9:27 says, “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.”  They remembered what he had said, and when he stated that it was irrelevant to peter whether John lived until the Lord’s return, some of them assumed that Jesus was saying John would not die.  John is quite insistent that Jesus did not say he wouldn’t die, but that it was God’s business whether it would be John or one of the others who lived until the Lord’s return.    As a result of the disciples assumption, many believe John will be one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, but as John points out he may not be. 

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

Even when we combine Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we only have a few of the most memorable of the things Jesus did in his time here on earth.  No one knows how many people Jesus healed or miracles he did that no one recorded.   We only have enough to make us know Jesus is the Messiah, and the accounts from four different men at different times and through different sources agree sufficiently to indicate the record is true, differing enough to indicate there was no collaboration of slavish copying each other.    

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