November 29, 2018 “Restoration”

Restoration

Jesus served all the disciples a fine breakfast that morning by the sea.
He had something special prepared to serve Simon Peter. Like Simon Peter, all of us have regrets. We all have something we feel we should “live down.” We have all failed God, those who were counting on us, and we have failed ourselves, our own great expectations.

Tender Questions
Jesus asked Simon Peter the most fundamental question of all.

“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

“More than these” is not very specific.

  • Did Jesus mean for Peter to rank his love for Him in comparison with the other disciples? In one sense this could be. Peter had always been quick to take the lead over the others. Did this mean he considered himself superior to them? If so, this ran counter to the teachings of Jesus.
  • Was this a love to be measured in contrast to Peter’s old life, his love for the sea, for fishing, for a normal life? For some reason he decided, in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus, to go fishing.

Either way, it was an important question leading to the Lord’s explanation of how we should measure our love for Him.

Did Peter’s denial mean an insufficient love? Peter’s answer was quick. He appealed to the mind and heart of Jesus.

“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

The sun was midway up the eastern sky and the wind from the sea was beginning to warm. Peter looked down at his feet, hoping Jesus agreed. Jesus waited for him to lift his head and see that his Lord was smiling that wonderful smile—encouragement, not judgement. When He had Peter’s attention, He began to teach the lesson.

The Test
There was a way to love Him that was undeniable.

“Feed My lambs.”

Peter relaxed. It sounded simple enough. Jesus continued…

“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

This time the emphasis fell on the word “Me.” There were so many passions for a man to pursue. Does your passion for “Me” rule your life? The question shook Peter’s whole frame. What did the Lord mean? He could think of no other answer.

“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Peter turned away to look out at the sea. Was it a picture of life, a horizon that ever retreats before you? Jesus again replied,

“Tend My sheep.”

So there was more than nourishment; there was care to be taken for the sheep. A third time, Jesus asked,

“Do you love Me?”

Peter turned back to look at Jesus, this time with tears welling in his eyes. How else could he answer?

“Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

The third time, the answer remained,

“Feed My sheep.

Jesus placed His nail-scarred hands on Peter’s strong shoulders as if to say, “You can do this.” For all time, the test of our love for Jesus is our love for and care for His church—His sheep.

The Impending Future

Jesus spoke to Peter about the life that lay ahead of him. He had been given prophecies of events to come. The boasts made at the supper would eventually be his lot. He would follow Jesus in crucifixion. All of it, the pain, the travel, the loneliness, the joy, the peace, and the fellowship would be for the glory of the Lord.

Scriptures:
John 21:15-19

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.” 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.” 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. 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.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, some people seem to try to love You without loving Your People. Just as with Peter, our love for You measured by our love for Your church. Your are at work in this world through Your Spirit moving through Your People, the ekclesia –the”Called-out ones. You have called us to in the world but not of it, to be a holy counter-culture speaking truth into the surrounding pagan cultures. Our leaders are pastors—under-shepherds of the Good Shepherd—whose calling is to feed and care for the sheep. Let us show Your love in this way. Amen and amen.

Song:
We Are One in the Spirit

Words and Music: Peter Scholte

We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord.
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved