Jesus Question to Peter


November 3, 2013   John 21: 15 – 19    Jesus Question 

       During a Pastor’s meeting, an old pastor stood up to testify to his faith. Yet his testimony surprised a number of People. The pastor stood up and looked at the group and said, “I am a lay pastor of a small, not-growing church.   I am not ordained. I am not seminary trained.   I was asked to leave both Bible colleges I attended.   I am divorced and remarried. On any given day I am capable of being a jerk with my wife and family.   I am terminally insecure, which causes me to compensate with bouts of arrogance.  At times people irritate me, and I hide from them.   I am impulsive, which causes me to say things I shouldn’t and make promises I cannot keep.   I am inconsistent.   My walk with Christ is a stuttering, stumbling, bumbling attempt to follow Him.  At times His presence is so real I can’t stop the tears, and then, without warning, I can’t find Him.   Some days my faith is strong, impenetrable, and immovable—and some days my faith is weak, pathetic, helpless, knocked about like a paper cup floating on the ocean in the middle of a hurricane.   I have been a Christian for 45 years.    I am familiar with the vocabulary of faith, and I am often asked to give advice about matters of faith.   But I am still a mess.   I am light-years away from being able to say with Paul, “Copy me.”   I am 56 years old and still struggling—a flawed, clumsy, unstable follower of Jesus a bona fide failure.”

    Many of us have heard the comments made about the apostle Paul.   Would you want this man – Paul to come to your church?   He has often been in prison, he is hated by his countrymen, he is often at odds with religious leaders, he has been beaten and ship wrecked.  He travels all over the place and never staying anywhere for very long.   He virtually has no money and at times been hungry and naked.   He really has trouble making ends meet.   Paul would not fit in our churches very well today.   He would be a misfit.    One of the popular songs of today is that the church would not want Jesus because his bloody feet might stain the carpet.   God’s people can look like misfits in society.   Peter had his ups and his downs.   Peter as we mentioned last week is one of those kinds of folks that can engage his tongue before his brain.  Let’s not forget that the church is filled with broken people.   It is the broken folks that open their heart to Jesus.  They know they are in need and that they are sick and they need a savior.    

     God allows us to fall on our faces so we can learn a very important thing.   We cannot do it alone.  God can use broken people.  So many folks rely on his or her self.  It shows up in how much we pray.  It shows up when we try to do it with our wisdom and strength.    We try to talk our way though the issues of the day.   We think our talk will get the desired results from others around us and we do not pray.  We can mistakenly think that our brilliance and good looks will get the job done.  

     God works in us all of our lives to re train us and to teach us that man cannot live by bread alone and that without Jesus we can do nothing.  We see the men and women of the bible often failing.  In fact there are very few in the bible that we can say did not have a failure.    In the beginning of this chapter we see Simon Peter, Thomas, the sons of Zebedee that is James and John and 2 other disciples are together and Peter tells them I am going fishing.   Jesus sat this point had been crucified and raised form the dead and had already appeared to them.   Peter at this point had denied Jesus.  You remember that Peter told Jesus he would never deny him and Jesus told Peter before the rooster crows you will deny me 3 times.   The 3rd time Peter denied Jesus the rooster crows, Jesus looks at him and Peter rushes out and weeps.

       We can easily over rate our spiritual walk.   We can easily underestimate our spiritual walk.   Neither one is a good thing.   Peter was over confident in telling Jesus he would never deny him.    Then he may have felt that he was a total failure and then undervalued his spiritual walk with Jesus.    Peter may have experienced both of these feelings at this time.   Peter is pretty broken at this point and he just goes back to what he is used to and that is fishing.   He goes back to his old job.  He goes back to what is comfortable for him.   Peter goes fishing and several maybe all of the disciples who were there go with him.    You know at this point Jesus had breathed on them the Holy Spirit but Pentecost had not happened yet.   They needed to be filled with Holy Spirit power.   We need to be filled with Holy Spirit power also.    Things are dark for the disciples at this point.   They needed a leader and Peter was probably that leader but he is not running on all 8 cylinders. 

     What do you think Peter is feeling right now?   Do you think he is looking forward to the future?   Is he thinking about ministry?    Do you think he is depressed and hurt?    Does Satan remind him over and over again of his failure?   Is Peter thinking about his denial of Jesus?   He bragged in front of Jesus and the other disciples and he failed to deliver.  If Peter is wallowing in self pity can he pull himself out?   Can Peter put his past behind him and move ahead?   Of course we know the answers to this.   There are many who can’t put the past behind them.   Some of them live in self pity. They dig up that old bone day by day and chew on it.  Paul said forgetting those things that are behind but he also mentioned that he persecuted the church.  He said he was the worst of sinners.  Memories can be good and they can be bad.   We take of the Lord’s Supper to remember him and what he did for us.   It is good for us once in awhile to remember where we once were and to consider where we might be without the Lord.  But we need to move ahead.   Am I looking and mourning over past sins or am I delighting in the glory of God.  

    As we think about Peter right here we need to remember that the disciples have just experienced a huge change.   Jesus is basically not physically with them any more.   Jesus always was around them and they had Jesus direction but not now.   Life has changed in a big way for the disciples.  Their world has turned upside down and so Peter goes fishing and Jesus goes to Peter.   Well that is pretty neat.   Jesus did not give up on Peter.  Jesus pulls Peter out of the mud.  Jesus assures Peter that Jesus has work for him to do.   Remember Elijah who got so depressed.   God gave him food and water and sleep and then God put him to work.   Elijah you got work to do.    Jesus goes to you and me also in our need.  Jesus goes to us when we get stuck with loving words and challenges.    Jesus goes to us in our need and sometimes we need a little kick in the back side.    We may need a little nudge or push and God knows how to do that.   What you experience and what is in front of you has been allowed by the Father.    Jesus yoke and burden is light but Jesus may ask some tough and pointed questions of us.  

   Jesus kind of confronts Peter here.   The Holy Spirit can come on to us in a strong or forceful way sometimes and that is good.   He does it for our own good.   There was a lot at stake here with Peter and Jesus lovingly and gently talks to Peter.  Jesus asks Peter do you love me.   I heard many messages on this.  Often I hear that Jesus asks Peter if he agape loves Jesus and that Peter responds I have a brotherly love for you Lord.   Agape love is the deepest love.  There is Eros love which is selfish love the lowest or least love and Philo love which is brotherly love.   We get the Philadelphia from that root word.   Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love.   Strong’s concordance uses the word Philo for both conversations.   Peter do you Philo me?   Peter’s comment Lord you know I Philo you.  Jesus said it again Peter do you Philo me and Peter says Lord you know all things you know that I Philo you and the same the 3rd time.   Peter do you have affectionate love for me – then feed my sheep.  MacArthur uses the same word but he thinks that Jesus may have used a word for love with deeper meaning.  We really do not know.  The Father loves the son in John 3:35 is agape love and the Father loves the son in John 5:20 is Philo love.   Does the father Philo love the son yes and does the father agape love the son yes.   John 3:16 for God so loved the world agape love and John 16:27 the father himself loves you is Philo love.   Maybe God is really saying here if you only affectionately love me then feed my sheep.  Even if you have not grown to the agape love stage you can still serve me.   Feed my sheep.   Share my word.  

    Peter do you love me.   Then feed my sheep.  If you love someone what does that mean?  It means different things for different folks.  Consider this story.  An aged farmer and his wife were leaning against the edge of their pig-pen when the old woman wistfully recalled that the next week would mark their golden wedding anniversary. “Let’s have a party, Homer," she suggested. "Let’s kill a pig." The farmer scratched his grizzled head. "Gee, Ethel," he finally answered, "I don’t see why the pig should take the blame for something that happened fifty years ago." 

      Girls, picture this. It is a warm summer day. The birds are singing happily.   The wind is blowing gently. You and that special guy are sitting outside in the sun just thrilled to be together.   You have been dating now for two whole weeks and you have never known a more thoughtful, gentle, and caring person as this special guy.   As you are talking and sharing the romantic moment with him, you feel as if he wants to tell you something. You look at him and you try to encourage him to say what it is that he is trying to say. Finally, he stumbles over the words, "I love you."   You feel the emotions bubbling up inside of you.   He loves me, you think and you even respond to him by saying, "I love you too." For that moment, is seems as if everything is right in the world.   Nuclear explosions, earthquakes, and tsunamis could be happening all around you, but you don’t care because he loves you.  Another two weeks go by.     You have been "going out" (even though you can’t really go anywhere because neither of you drive) for a month and things are okay, but you sense as if he isn’t as in to you as he once was. You still hang out together.   You spend endless hours on the phone just hearing each other breathe. You still say, "I love you", but something just feels different.

      Tomorrow will be your one-month anniversary and so you call him up to see what plan he had to commemorate this special day.   After all, he loves you, or at least so he says.    Maybe the phone conversation goes something like this:  Girl: Hey there big guy, what are you doing?  Guy: Nothing, I am just hanging out.  Girl: I am really looking forward to tomorrow.  Guy: Yeah, me too.   Girl: I can’t wait to see you.   I haven’t seen you for like three hours.  Guy: I know.   I am forgetting what you look like.  Girl: So, what are we doing tomorrow?   Guy: Ummmm...we?   Girl: Yeah, you said that you were looking forward to tomorrow.   Guy: Oh, I am.   The guys and I are going fishing at the lake, then to the game, and afterwards, we are going to see a movie.   Girl: [sobbing] But, I thought that we were going to spend our one-month anniversary together.   I thought that you loved me!

    What does love mean to you in your relationship to God?  How does God look at it?   Peter do you love me?   Feed my sheep.   Maybe Jesus is asking us if we love him enough to turn off the TV and pray.    Do we love him enough to tithe and go to church faithfully?   Jesus seems very concerned about his sheep and Jesus wants Peter to feed them and tend to them.  It is like Jesus is saying to Peter, Peter you lay down your life for others.   I love people so much that I want you to lay down your life for others.  Peter do you have affection for me then feed my sheep and feed my lambs. Peter follow my example.   I gave my all and you do the same.      

     Max Lucado in his book, ‘In the Eye of the Storm’, told this fictional story of an angel trying to find another way for salvation:  “He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene.  Three figures hung on three crosses.  Arms spread.  Heads fallen forward.   They moaned with the wind.   Men clad in religion stood off to one side…Arrogant, cocky.  Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill…Faces tear streaked.    All heaven stood to fight.  All nature rose to rescue.   All eternity poise to protect.   But the Creator gave no command. ‘It must be done…,” he said, and withdrew.    The angel spoke again. “It would be less painful…”   The Creator interrupted softly.  “But it wouldn’t be love.”