Our Lord was very patient with the disciples who had gone back to their old pursuits (vv. 1-14). When they could not find fish He told them how to catch so many the net almost broke. In effect He was telling them—”If you want fish, I will give you fish. But is this what you really want?” This is the setting for the conversation that follows.
II. BIBLE READING
John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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 again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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 Jonah, 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 all things; You know that I love You.”; Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”; 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man ” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (NKJ)
A. Loving The Lord And Caring For His Sheep (vv. 15-17)
- What was Jesus referring to in verse 15 when He said “these”? (It may refer either to Peter’s fellow disciples, to the boat, nets, fish and Peter’s fishing career. In the context of what happened in verses 1-14, it probably referred to the latter.)
Application: What are the things we sometimes value more than our Lord (perhaps not consciously, but we show by our actions)? (Money, fame, sensual pleasure, etc.) What do we really want?
- What was our Lord emphasizing again and again in His questions to Peter?
a. To stress that the most important ingredient for Christian service is love. See 1 Corinthians 13:13.
REFLECTION: Am I serving my Lord out of love, or because of duty, reward, other people’s urgings . . .?
b. If we really love our Lord, we will naturally want to feed His sheep and tend His lambs. Who are the sheep? the lambs?
REFLECTION: In what ways are we feeding His sheep and tending His lambs?
(Not only should we encourage and help them to read the Bible, pray, meditate, bear fruit, etc., but should also care for them in the context of our church. We should encourage them to pin the worship services, and fellowship meetings, know and interact with other members, participate in other areas of church life. If someone is not yet baptized, by all means encourage him to be. We should realize we are all members of one Body, and we cannot exist alone. We should not be always asking what we can get out of church life, but what we can give.)
NOTE TO LEADERS: Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.” In other words, He is the true Shepherd, we are only His assistants. See John 21:11-13. He provides the food, we just give the food to the lambs, with loving care. Some of us think of ourselves as the shepherd, and that if we go away things will collapse. Humbug! We should prayerfully bring the sheep, including ourselves, to His presence and feed on Him.
B. Following Christ Forever (vv. 18-25)
- Note verses 18-19. This was not the first time Jesus called Peter to follow Him (see Matthew 4:19 and Luke 5:10, 11). Why did Jesus have to call Peter so many times? How do we apply this to our own lives? (Commitment to follow Jesus is not a once in a lifetime decision only. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord, that is only the first step in following Him. We have started in the right direction. We do not need to receive Him as Savior and Lord again and again, because the new birth is only once. But there are times when we need to recommit our lives to Him, especially if we have backslidden. Verse 19 indicates that Peter once again committed his life to the Lord.)
- In verse 20 who was the disciple Peter saw following them? (John. Since John was the one writing this account, he did not want to mention his own name directly. So he used two phrases to identify himself: (a) ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved;” (b) and “the one who had leaned …. “) What was Peter really asking when he said, “Lord, what about him?” (In vv. 18 and 19, Jesus was telling Peter he would one day die for God’s sake. Then Peter saw John, and he seemed to be asking, “How about this one you love? Will he also die as a martyr?”)
- When Peter was called by our Lord to follow Him, and he tried to compare himself with John, what did our Lord answer? What can we learn from Jesus’ answer? (Very often when we serve our Lord, we like to compare ourselves with other people. We may grumble, “How come I am doing all this work and he is not?” Our Lord’s answer shows that it is not our business to ask such questions. Each of us is responsible to Him for ourselves only.)
We have been studying God’s Word for many weeks. How much have you grown? Are you willing to make the love commitment to follow Christ forever, and to care for new Christians? Instead of waiting for other people to feed us, are you willing to start feeding other people? Remember, the best way for us to grow is to help other people grow.
NOTE: Baptism is an important sacrament in the Christian church. It is declaring before the world that “from now on I am forsaking Satan and all his works. Now I belong to Christ and will follow Him forever.”