Sermon: Finding Peter Again in Galilee John 21:15-23

Finding Peter Again in Galilee

John 21:15-23

Truth Taught- Christ called Peter to show his love for Him by caring for the flock, obeying God’s will, and staying focused on Him and not on others.

Introduction

In the Gospel of Mark we saw last time that Jesus through the angel told His disciples that after the resurrection He would go into the region of Galilee.

This simple statement may seem trivial and unimportant at first glance. Ok, Jesus You’re heading to Galilee… We must ask ourselves why? What is in Galilee that Jesus needs or what will He find in Galilee?

Mark 16:7 (ESV)

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Last week we saw the miracle of the miraculous catch of fish repeated. Remember, Jesus performed this miracle when He called Peter, James, and John as His disciples. It is in this same setting. same lake, same boats, same miracle that Jesus would not call Peter but reinstate Peter.

Given the location…Peter’s home and given the miracle of the fish again, Jesus is telling Peter in a vivid and memorable way that He is not done with Peter.

If you remember the night before the crucifixion when Jesus needed His followers the most, they fled. Peter also fled. Before he left Jesus he denied Him three times.

Every time someone asked Peter if he knew Jesus he said no. The last time he also cursed. At that moment the roster crowed just as Jesus said that it would…I tell you Peter before the cock crows you will have denied Me three times. At that moment Peter fled weeping uncontrollably.

 

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

 

John 21:15–23 (ESV)

15 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.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, 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 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. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

  1. Show Your Love to Christ By Caring for Other Believers

15 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.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, 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 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.

Jesus asks Peter, Do you love Me more than these?

Scholars debate what is Jesus referring to here? Is He asking Peter, do you love me more than these fish and these nets? Or Do you love me more than you love your friends here? What Jesus is asking Peter is the question that will put the final touches on Peter’s humility.

What Jesus is asking Peter is…do you love Me more than these other followers love Me? The reason we know this is what Jesus had in mind is because this was one of Peter’s points of pride and eventual downfall…

Mark 14:28–31 (ESV)

28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

John 13:36–38 (ESV)

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Peter’s boasting about his love for Jesus and that his love far exceeded the other’s love for Jesus was a point where Peter’s pride was showing through. According to Peter, his love for Christ was beyond all the others’ love.

I think Im going to resist the standard discussion as to the question and answer segment between Jesus and Peter. The real issue here is not so much the specific Greek word translated as love whether it be the Agapeo or Phileo but the fact that Peter is now offering a threefold humble response to the repeated question about whether he loves Jesus more than everyone else loves Jesus.

The first thing I want to address is the fact that Jesus, as God, is right when He expects His followers to love Him. If He were not God then it would be arrogant to demand others to love Him.

Deuteronomy 6:4–7 (ESV)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

I want us to notice Peter’s response to Jesus’ question…
do you love me more than these? Yes Lord you know that I love you.

do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

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.

There is no boasting on Peter’s part only humble answers affirming that he does love the Lord. Then, he ends by saying Lord You know everything and You also know that I love You. He doesn’t rest in his own ability to love Jesus more than anyone else but rest in the Lord’s omniscience.

We must be very careful when our attitude becomes arrogant like Peter’s was before the cross. When we think we’ve arrived we are setting ourselves up for a fall.

Let’s also look at how Jesus wants Peter to show his love for Him…

Feed my lambs

Tend my sheep

Feed my sheep

What Jesus is telling Peter is that real love for Him shows itself as care for other believers. We must not just say we love Jesus and refuse to care for His people. This is what true love for Jesus looks like.

Beloved, do you love Jesus? Then what ministry in this local church are you performing? How are you showing Jesus that your love for Him is genuine? He tells us to care for the sheep. So, for Peter, it’s not by acting as if he’s better than the sheep by having a superior love for Jesus but true love for his Lord is shown through humble service to the body of believers.

So Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus calls him back three times…Peter do you love Me?

  1. Show Your Love to Christ By Obeying God’s Will

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus has settled the issue as to what true love looks like, namely, service to and care for His followers. Now our Lord wants Peter to focus on the love that he shows Jesus by his willingness to follow Him.

We saw that throughout our Lord’s ministry He had called all His disciples to follow Him. We too are to follow Christ as disciples.

Because Jesus has walked the lonely path to the cross He can ask His followers to take up their cross and follow Him. He can also relay to Peter just what following Jesus may, in fact, look like. For Peter, Jesus explains that he too will be crucified. He too will follow Him completely and entirely all the way to the cross.

Church history has confirmed that Peter was crucified in Rome.

Verses 18-19 speak of Jesus’ prophecy of how Peter would. After his death by crucifixion John wrote his gospel and took these words of Jesus and then understood clearly that they were referring to how Peter would die…he would die a martyr’s death.

Do you see how Jesus ends verse 19? Follow Me…

Beloved, we are not told how we’ll die. It was God’s will that for whatever purpose Peter would die being crucified.

Basically, Jesus tells Peter that whatever happens in his life he must follow Christ. I think these words are also for us. I’m thankful we’re not told how we will die. But we are told how to live. These verses tell us that whatever God requires of our lives we must be willing to obey Him in all things.

Jesus tells each of us to Follow Him.

Notice this is Peter’s reinstatement…

Initial Calling…

Luke 5:11 (ESV)

11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Reinstatement…

John 21:19 And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter did not fall away too far that Jesus couldn’t restore to him full fellowship. Peter was now ready to care for the flock of Jesus and willing to follow Him anywhere even if following Jesus meant his own death.

Perhaps where this passage connects with us isn’t so much with Jesus giving us the same call Peter had but we could ask ourselves what hard thing does Jesus want me to do? What has God called me to do that would stretch me and cause me to grow as believer?

  1. Show Your Love to Christ By Not Comparing Yourself to Others

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

While Peter no doubt was relieved to be restored to his Lord I’m sure those words about the kind of death he would endure were cause for concern, so much so that he turns to John and asks Jesus what about him?

It’s always nice to be included isn’t it? Peter says, what about John…what kind of death will he face…John just happened to be there.
Jesus had to remind Peter not to be concerned with others but concentrate on following Me.
Jesus even said, Peter what if John remains alive until I return? That still has nothing to do with My will for you. Stop worrying so much about other people and what they might think about you…you, Peter follow Me.

Comparing himself to others is what got Peter in trouble in the first place…even if they all fall away I will never fall away. Even if they flee I will stay.

Application

What is it that holds you back from following Christ like you should?

So, what Jesus told Peter He would tell us the same thing…
If you really love Me…

Care for My people

Obey God’s will for your life

Stay fixed of Christ not on others.

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