Read John 21:15-25
Breakfast on the beach with Jesus continues from the previous story. The early morning fishing expedition that seemed like a rout turned out to be fantastic because of Jesus. That shouldn’t be surprising. When Jesus is in the middle of anything we do, we should expect amazing results. This time is no different. This time, however, we get a bonus.
Peter is sitting next to His master, or perhaps Jesus walks up to Peter to begin the conversation.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15
In this compelling question, Peter is asked to examine his heart. Think about it, what are these? Jesus is there with Peter looking at the spectacular catch of fish. On the one hand, if he could do this every day, he could become quite wealthy. But Jesus asks him a question that cuts through the trappings of success and fortune. Do you love Jesus more than success and money?
I’m just guessing that Jesus let the thought linger for some time before asking again. After all, the three denials from a few days ago took some time to unravel Peter.
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16
Peter doesn’t hesitate, though it’s unlikely he understands or appreciates the significance of the question.
The third time hurts. I think Peter is exasperated when he responds:
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” John 21:17
Jesus finally elaborates.
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but 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.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:17b-19
Peter thought about the words of his Master and accepted their significance. However, his humanity continues to appear. Here is one of the things I love about the way John crafts the story. Peter looks around at the men enjoying the feast and picks out John.
“Lord, what about him?” John 21:21
Seriously Peter, what are you thinking? Jesus’ reply gives us some great insight to consider:
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22
In a meeting a few weeks ago, a friend who has an amazing post-incarceration ministry gave me some great advice: stay in your lane. The John in my personal story knows firsthand what it’s like to be distracted by others. They can lead you into trouble, to be sure, but worse, they can cause you to take your eyes off of the One who is calling your name.
When Jesus calls you and me, He is calling us as our Lord and Master. If we follow this story, we would be wise to do that which Jesus is calling us to do. Whatever that is and wherever that leads.
Hear the words of Jesus:
Do you love me?
Feed my lambs.
Take care of my sheep.
Feed my sheep.
One More Thing
Before we close the chapter and the Gospel according to John, we have one last reminder (this is really the last reminder).
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25
As we ponder the words of Jesus, our Lord, our Master, consider the words from this old hymn:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
May the words inspire you to love all those around you from the greatest to the least.