“After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin,[a] Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards[b] off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 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.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”.” (John 21:1–19 NRSV)
Since it is nineteen verses, I’ll pause to let you read them now…………
These verses are so packed with great lessons that after I ended up writing twenty seven pages I thought to myself, “Why not break this up into three sermons?” So, I decided to do a short sermon series on “Fundamental Spiritual Truths.” I’ll break it up into 1. to Jesus, his flock, his sheep, and his lambs are of utmost importance. 2. Food is essential. 3. Feeders are vulnerable.
Jesus’ focus is and always has been on his flock, his sheep, his lambs…us! Always! As he teaches, as he serves, he never forgets us. He is the Good Shepherd and he laid his life down for his flock.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know much about sheep (I still don’t know about sheep). Did you know the shepherd would lead his flock to a cave if he knew he wouldn’t be able to make it back home for the night? He would build a fire at the mouth of the cave…. put the sheep in the back of the cave and lay down between the fire and the sheep. He does this so if a wild animal decides it is hungry and the fire does not deter it that the first food is the shepherd. Therefore, he is willing to lay down his life for his flock.
To survive we all need food…it is essential to us to live. In fact, of all the addictions the we humans have, food addiction is the one that we can’t stop. We must eat in order to live and there is no way around it. Food is essential.
Notice in verse 15 Jesus said feed my lambs. And then in verse 16 tend my sheep. And then third, feed my sheep. So, why are there differences in the words? Well, the first-word feed is the word Bosco in Greek, and it means to pasture a flock to take them out to eat from the pasture to feed them. The second word for tend here is the word poi mono, which means not to pasture, but to pastor them, to shepherd them, to care for them, and to feed them. And then the third time he uses it, he's back to the first word, Bosco, which means to feed. So, no matter how you look at it, it's feed, feed, feed. I surmise from this that Jesus wants Peter and us, to feed Jesus’ sheep.
The third Fundamental Truth is Feeders are vulnerable. I bring this out because the text brings it out. Look at verse 17. “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” Peter was greatly distressed because he said to him the third time. Do you love me? He said to him, Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you. Now, Peter is bummed out. Not because Jesus repeats himself. Because of the language he employs.
The first question is Peter, do you love me? The word agapo or agape? Do you love me with the supreme, intense self-sacrificing love? Yeah, Lord, I love you. Peter, do you love me with agape love, self-sacrificing love, Peter said a second time Lord, I'm fond of you use a different word. I love you. Brotherly love. Philo love. I love you like a brother. That's getting honest. Then Jesus, the third time’ used Peter’s word. Peter, do you love me? Do you love me like a brother? I mean, can you even claim after denying me, that you even love me at that level? Peter grieved over that because Jesus descends to that lower level of affection instead of supreme love. But he says, Lord, you know, all things like, yeah, you know what I've done? But, you know, my heart. You know I love you. And Jesus, the third time, commissioned him. Feed my sheep.
Peter would feed the sheep but not without his issues. Peter denied Jesus three times publicly and then publicly affirmed his love. Peter would start to become legalistic and Paul would have to bring him back in line. Peter is really just like you and me, isn’t he?
So, there you have it. Another deviation away from the lectionary. I hope all y’all will be able to come to worship with us in person. Wasn’t it great to see all the folks here during Holy Week? I hope you had the opportunity to celebrate with us.