John 21 vv 15 19


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What is the domninant model for how we set about building the Kingdom of God? Wardare?! Fishing?!! ... or feeding sheep?
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  • Christians tend to think of the work of the Kingdom of God as catching fish, wouldn’t you say?So we go out and cast the net by telling things to people and expect to just drag the net back into the boat, full.And after strenuous effort we are often desperately disappointed in the morning.We often don’t get personally fed in the process.We often don’t get closer to Christ in the process.We often don’t take the work of the Kingdom of God forward in the process.Now, of course, the initial call to those followers of Jesus back in Matthew 4 was to follow Christ and become fishers of men, but what that following of Christ should have done is to CHANGE THEM, or rather their attitude to how they do what they do.We have neglected the model Jesus sets out for the people doing that work of the Kingdom of God.They are to go fishing for people like shepherds.He’s the Good Shepherd.Shepherds feed sheep.He’s just been doing all of that for His followers and He’s commissioning His followers to feed sheep BECAUSE THEY ARE FOLLOWING HIM … the GREAT SHEPHERD!He will go on to commission His followers to go out into the world to carry the work of the Kingdom of God forward and to do that by catching fish?Nope.To do that by making disciples … the way He’s modelled that process to them.How’s He done that?By going with them, teaching them, questioning them, feeding them into faith and closer following.It seems more than possible that the dominant model for how Jesus wants the Kingdom of God taken forward in His absence is that of leading sheep out to pasture and feeding them day by day, rather than furtively creeping up on fish and capturing them before dragging them into your boat with a net.Can you spot the difference?And how would that change what we’re doing?Now beforee you get legal and self critical … let’s not forget how gracious Jesus is being in calling (specifically) Peter to this at this point, at this moment.
  • He’d made the fire.He’d provided the fish to their labour.Now they get to start off the day after a long difficult night feeding in the presence of Jesus.They – Peter in particular - certainly don’t deserve this at the moment.They have been tired and frustrated.Jesus performs the gracious and merciful service of inviting tired, frustrated night workers to breakfast.
  • They’ve been fishing.They’d proved to be rubbish at it.They’re not HAPPY about that.And it was the Carpenter who had resolved their professional deficit.It would have been easy to have said: ‘there’s your fish, you failed fishermen, muppets. Now go and cook a few of those fish there for your breakfast!’But He says ‘Come and have breakfast with ME …’His nature’s to draw needy people to Himself.That is the Saviour we’re following, and that’s the way He wants His Kingdom taken forward … He FEEDS SHEEP … follow THAT model and He makes you fishers of men.Here’s the model demonstrated (vv. 9-14) and the model taught to Peter (vv. 15-19) … mebbe him in particular because he’s the most driven, type A personality amongst them, and the least likely to get the message unless he sees and hears all this.
  • Look, then, at the model Jesus offers for getting folks into fellowship with Him.He firstly addresses their failure, shortages and frustration … He provides fish.Then He encourages their hearts with a fire and fellowship.‘Come for breakfast’.
  • Here was a source of comfort to bring the rigours of the night and the cold and wet they’d experienced to a close.Don’t forget, they’ve been out in the environment on the lake all night, they’ve just got wet pulling in the nets once more (you can’t pull in nets without getting wet) and Peter at least is completely wet through because when he recognised the Lord Peter put his warm dry overcoat on and jumped into the Lake to be with the Lord.I’ve often thought about this on cold winter days in the Mart, or on an outreach stand or whatever.I reckon the best way to draw a crowd for our open air outreach might be to set up an oil drum and light a fire!Jesus knows very well how warming people creates a receptive, listening audience!He’s looking after people.It’s the pre-requisite of drawing together His flock.We think of fire from the pulpit as fire and brimstone preaching.That’s not the sort of ministry Christ is modelling here … He’s warming their bodies with His fire before warming their hearts with His fellowship.How do we DO that for people, do you think?
  • Jesus first calls them towards the warmth of His fire, and then there’s the food that He cooks on it.Fish.Fresh fish.Pleasing to the senses, and nourishing to the body.They’ve worked hard and got nothing for their efforts, they’re tired and frustrated, it’s been a tough night after a traumatic few weeks.Jesus is doing their bodies (and hearts) GOOD by giving them breakfast.It’s the pre-requisite to feeding their souls.They can’t listen to His teaching when their bodies are cold and their tummies are rumbling.We don’t preach first and THEN feed the hungry (forcing the audience to stay for the message because their bodies are hungry and need food).Jesus models another way.First He takes care of their need for comfort and nutrition, and then leads them deeper into fellowship with Himself.
  • Spiritual fellowship with Jesus takes place (again) around meeting physical needs with food.For Jesus a shared meal is so MUCH more than just eating – food is very MUCH more than just fuel!
  • Now, we’ve got to get the balance right here.These disciples HAD heard the message of Jesus (because they’d been travelling along and eating with Him for ages!)And it is definitely the truth that sets you free.Jesus comes along with a message, but it’s a message handled NOT with the attitude and demeanour of dragging fish into a boat with a net, but with the demeanour of the disciple-maker feeding the bodies and souls of Christ’s sheep.He solved their fishlessnessHe banished their frustration with (miraculous but) practical help.He warmed them. He fed their hungry bodies.He shared with them His time, His personality and His fellowship.He gave them TIME.His time.And when He did so they recognised their God in this Jesus … they KNEW it was the Lord.How do we DO that for people?Because HERE’s how he wants the Kingdom of God taken forward throughout the time of His physical absence …Which is why His last words to His followers on earth (Matthew 28:17ff.) came to be these:“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”The bottom line here is this …If you lay out food you’ll draw sheep!
  • This is not so much now Jesus feeding sheep, as commissioning His people to do so … particularly Peter.Failure Peter.He wasn’t the only one … there were others who’d been scattered, let Him down, run away …But (as ever) Peter had been doing it ‘large’.So how is the Lord going to get closure on this issue, and set up Peter and the others listening to carry forward the future work of the cause of the Kingdom of God?
  • Pretty straightforward question.Peter had been the first into the tomb, first into the water when he realised that it was Jesus standing there on the beach and first back to get the fish from the boat to cover the increased guest list at breakfast at Jesus’s bidding.‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’No doubt Peter thought that he did.But did he?
  • Only one possible answer in that rather public setting … Peter i) side-steps the comparative nature of the question (he drops the ‘more than these’ element, because including it would be a TERRIBLE faux pas!) ‘you know that I love you!’What did Jesus know?Jesus knew that Peter had denied the Lord three times when the cock crowed, and whatever Peter was saying He seems likely to have actually known exactly what was going on in Peter’s heart.Please notice this:The words Jesus uses have been strongly debated.The first question asks: ἀγαπᾷς με πλέον τούτωνDo you love me in the agape way more than these?Which?The fish?The other disciples?If the question were about fish it was pretty easy to see Peter had been much more concerned to get to Jesus Himself than to take care of the miraculously large catch of fish.If the question were about the other disciples that would sit well in the context both of Peter’s constant desire to outstrip the others in his personal devotion to Jesus … and the context of his earlier denials of the Lord when the pressure was on.But secondly, Peter choses a different word entirely about the ‘love me’ part of Jesus’s question:Peter says σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε So here’s this phileo/ agape question … it finds point in the way the words Jesus uses to question Peter’s life seem to go through a bit of a downgrade … there are things to be said, but let’s not try to jump that gun yet.The answer here from Peter, whether the word choice makes any difference or not, side steps the agape word and uses the phileo word … the question is whether that’s of any significance at all.
  • Σίμων Ἰωάννου ἀγαπᾷς μεJesus drops the comparative part of the question … never mind the ‘more than these’ (comes the second question), but do you agape me?It strikes me the Saviour’s choice of words is going to be relevant here in this context … especially given the answer Peter offers …
  • λέγει αὐτῷ ναί κύριε σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶSee? Jesus has lowered the bar by dropping the comparative element in the question, but Peter’s response hasn’t moved … he still ‘phileo’s Jesus.Which wasn’t the word in Christ’s question!Is that relevant?It’s the word of human brotherly love … boys together … but it isn’t the word that gets used distinctively of the mutual love that God’s part of!Now here comes the third question …
  • Oh boy …  Here’s meaningful word choice right at the heart of this third question …It’s not there in the English but in Greek Jesus (Who already gave up on the ‘more than these’) now also gives up on the agape and settles for questioning Peter’s phileo:φιλεῖς μεNow I know the clever commentators say that in other Greek literature there isn’t a big distinction between the words phileo and agape.I know that as far as the dictionary is concerned, that’s what the modern scholars say …But HERE, and in THIS context, it’s pushing coincidence too hard as far as I am concerned to think that Jesus isn’t choosing His words purposefully here.Listen to v. 17’s answer from Peter, and the emotional context in which John clearly sets it:
  • “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’κύριε πάντα σὺ οἶδας σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε Peter just can’t seem to get beyond phileo to agape.But funnily Jesus is going to settle – as He has done with all of us who follow Him – for less than the standard He’s looking for.If we’re ever going to go on to serve the purpose of God in the generation that we have been called into to push forward the Kingdom of God, it will be because Jesus settles for us with our inadequacy, in our deficits, with our failures and lackings and still sends us off not too combat enemies nor capture fish, but to work at drawing together by FEEDING, those who are already His sheep.
  • Jesus has just done this for them.They are to be His authentic followers.They must take care of His sheep.Who are they?They are the ones (ch. 10) who know His voice, who LISTEN to His voice and who like the rest of His people, follow Him.How is God’s kingdom taken forward?By finding those people one by one, drawing them by His voice to follow Jesus and to feed and care for them as they move along with us along His Way.It’s all about shepherding sheep from now on, not just numbers of fish that get dragged up in a net.
  • There is just one more thing …This is TERRIBLY personally costly.This is a really quite interesting prophecy about Peter.We know Peter is a bit longer in the tooth than some of the other disciples present on that day …So the reference to the carefree-ness of his youth is something likely to grasp Peter’s attention straight away:“… when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted.”Peter, you’re not young any more, but don’t expect an old age lived easily OUTSIDE the spiritual conflict.“… when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’”What’s THAT about … stretching out your hands?Someone else dressing you?Leading you where you DON’T want to go?What on earth is all this stuff referring to?Carson points out that this phrase about stretching out the hands widely refers to crucifixion.What an odd order … there’s stretch out the hands so that they could be tied to the cross beam that would be fixed to the stake at the place of crucifixion …Hands stretched out tied to the clothing of the cross beam of the Cross and being lead out carrying the thing to the place of crucifixion.So Jesus did say this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God, then reissued the invitation that began Jesus’s saving relationship with Peter way back in the earliest days beside that same Sea of Galilee where they’re having their early morning breakfast: ‘Come, follow me’.You KNOW what it is going to cost.Come follow me.Peter has been completely reinstated.
  • So … can you see then why I think it’s a mistake to see this passage as simply telling us how Jesus forgave Peter.This passage at the end of John’s record of the Risen Lord Jesus does something even more important.It shows how Jesus wants His Kingdom taken forward, when He’s now only got failures to be doing that for Him.How does He do that?He does it by tolerating fools gladly.He does it by tolerating our blatantly inadequate love for Him.He does it by forgiving and restoring failures that He cares for, by curing their frustrations, addressing their daily failures, comforting and warming them with His bonfire, feeding them and banishing their hunger with His breakfast … and drawing them not simply to His message, capturing them in His net and dragging them gasping up out of their environment and into His boat, … but fundamentally laying down food, drawing them into His personal fellowship, bringing them close in to His friendship.And Jesus first calls you and me (FAILURES!) to draw close in to Him … and then to extend welcome to failures like we are.Welcome into our, and His personal, fellowship.Here’s how to go out into all the world and out there to make His disciples.
  • John 21 vv 15 19

    1. 1. Welcome to Grace!“For the Son of Man cameto seekand to savethe lost.’Luke 19:10
    2. 2. John 21:9-19• Introduction
    3. 3. John 21“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coalsthere with fish on it, and some bread.10 Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you havejust caught.’ 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into theboat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of largefish, 153, but even with so many the net was nottorn. 12 Jesus said to them, ‘Come and havebreakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Whoare you?’ They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, tookthe bread and gave it to them, and did the same withthe fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appearedto his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”
    4. 4. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration, vv. 1-3• Fishing, vv. 4-9
    5. 5. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers, vv. 9-14
    6. 6. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers, vv. 9-14– Fireside, “When they landed, they saw a fire ofburning coals there withfish on it, and some bread.”
    7. 7. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers, vv. 9-14– Fireside– Fish
    8. 8. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers, vv. 9-14– Fireside– Fish– Fellowship
    9. 9. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers, vv. 9-14– Fireside– Fish– Fellowship“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None ofthe disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the breadand gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”
    10. 10. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19
    11. 11. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15 “When they had finishedeating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son ofJohn, do you love me more than these?’
    12. 12. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15 “When they had finished eating,Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do youlove me more than these?’– First answer, v. 15 “‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you knowthat I love you.’”
    13. 13. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15– Second question, v. 16 “Again Jesus said, ‘Simonson of John, do you love me?’”
    14. 14. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15– Second question, v. 16 “Again Jesus said, ‘Simonson of John, do you love me?’”– Second answer, v. 16 “ ‘Yes, Lord, you know that Ilove you.’”
    15. 15. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15– First answer, v. 15– Second question, v. 16– Second answer, v. 16– Third question, v. 17 “The third time he said tohim, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’”
    16. 16. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding the fatigued followers• Feeding sheep, vv. 15-19– First question, v. 15– First answer, v. 15– Second question, v. 16– Second answer, v. 16– Third question, v. 17– Third answer, v. 17 “’Peter was hurt because Jesus askedhim the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, youknow all things; you know that I love you.’
    17. 17. The call is ALWAYS tofeeding His sheep!• V. 15 “Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’”• V. 16 “Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’”• V. 17 “Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.”
    18. 18. Please check this short video …
    19. 19. This is terribly personally costly“Very truly I tell you,when you were younger you dressed yourselfand went where you wanted;but when you are old you will stretch out yourhands, and someone else will dress you andlead you where you do not want to go.’19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of deathby which Peter would glorify God.Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’”
    20. 20. John 21:9-19• Introduction• Frustration• Fishing• Feeding sheep• Conclusion