April 26, 2023

April 26, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
April 26, 2023

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, 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 a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” he said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17

This is one of those post resurrection appearances of Jesus. It wasn't the last time, he will appear again to the Apostle Paul, but this could have been the last one in terms of his disciples. And it's on the beach, he's having breakfast with his disciples and then he has a face to face talk with Peter. And remember Peter betrayed his Lord three times; he's been forgiven. The Lord has already appeared to him once before, but there's a question, I'm sure maybe many questions running through Peter's mind, “What will he do for the rest of his life?” That could have been a question. Remember he has betrayed his Lord but does he ever get back into preaching again? Will he ever have any real significant involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ? There could have been a lot of questions running through Peter's mind in light of his denial of his Lord. It was a significant fall and it was a public fall and he was a man who was in office when he fell. Here in John 21 Jesus reassures him of full restoration and also a recommission. I believe that is what our Lord wants Peter to know.

It must have been hard, don't you think, for Peter to sit there and hear our Lord ask those three questions, “Peter, do you love me, Peter, do you love me, Peter, do you love me?” There's no hesitation here with Peter, he responds with a very positive affirmative, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” And the third time when Jesus presses the question we are told Peter was grieved. Notice what Peter does, he appeals to Christ's omniscience, he believes Jesus is God, “You know everything, of course, of course you know I love you.” But notice this, that each time Jesus asked the question, he gives basically the same answer, He focuses on the sheep. Do you see that, “Feed my sheep, tend to my sheep, or take care of my sheep, and then again feed my sheep.”

Spurgeon says, “Jesus is letting Peter know the dearest thing I have in all the world is my flock, I gave everything for them, even my life.”

We shouldn't forget that, how much Jesus loves his church, how much He loves us the church. He died for the church, He spilled his blood for the church. And we know this don't we, in subsequent church history, reading through the Book of Acts, that Peter does exactly what Jesus wanted him to do, he feeds the sheep. He spends the rest of his life, think of it, the rest of his life, taking care of his sheep. He becomes next to the apostle Paul (maybe you could put both of them almost on an equal platform), but the two greatest church leaders and pastors on record in the New Testament.

But if Jesus were to ask you or I the question, “Do you love me?” And if you said, “I do, I do, I do. You know I love you Lord,” what would he say to us? I think we could argue this, brethren, “Take care of my sheep.” Isn't that what he argues in Matthew 25 when people stand before Jesus on Judgment Day?

What's going to distinguish those who are bona fide Christians when you took care of my sheep? You visited them, you fed them when they were hungry, you visited them when they were in prison, you clothed them. So you show your love for Jesus by showing your love for his sheep by caring and loving his sheep.

We won't take care of the sheep exactly the same way that the apostles or pastors take care of sheep. They feed the sheep, that's their primary responsibility in caring for the sheep. But there's no other commandment that is pressed upon our consciences more brethren, than “love one another.” That commandment is emphasized more than any other commandment; three times in the upper room, John 13:35 and chapter 15. Think of this, 1 Corinthians 13, isn’t that about loving one another? That's what, 13 verbs he uses to teach us how to love one another. And you have Romans 12, you have got at least 18 to 20 imperatives again teaching us how to love one another. One of the commandments there in Romans 12 is to be constant in prayer.

So we show our love for one another in different ways. The apostles and pastors in feeding the sheep, but we are all to take care of the sheep. That's our responsibility for loving one another, we will seek to take care of one another. We carry each other's burdens, we weep for those who weep, we rejoice with those who rejoice, we extend kindness to them maybe in terms of benevolence, hospitality, but we are seeking to care for one another.

So I think that's a good reason we can keep that in the back of our minds when we come to a prayer meeting. Why am I coming to a prayer meeting? Why do I come to a zoom prayer meeting? To show love to Christ, but also to show love for the brethren, so I can pray for them, I can weep with them, I can rejoice with them. So here's a prayer that we could always bring before the Lord, one of the best prayers is, “more love for Christ,” but certainly, “more love for Christ’s Church, more love for the brethren.”