Lessons from John 21: Spiritual Success
Spiritual success comes when we do what God calls us to do, in the way that God calls us to do it. If we listen and obey, like the disciples, we will enjoy God and the abundant life He has for each one of us. This is true spiritual success and satisfaction. Come next week and share with us how God has blessed you as you have listened and obeyed His Word this year through the study of John.
Well, John tells us in verse 14 that this was the third time that Jesus had appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
John goes on to say in verse 15 that when they had finished eating Jesus turned His conversation towards Simon Peter.
If we were to look back, we would remember that on the night of Jesus arrest, Peter had boasted that he would never leave Jesus side, even if every other disciple deserted Jesus. Peter bragged in the presence of all the other disciples that he was ready to go with Jesus even if that meant going to prison and to death, even if the others would not. Implying that he loved Jesus more than the rest.
Yet, in Luke Jesus had already warned Peter that Satan had asked to sift Peter as wheat. In other words, Satan wanted to crush Simon Peter and the others like grains of wheat. In which Satan hoped would cause Peter and the others to become like chaff (meaning like the straw of dust) that would blow away or be scattered and reduced to nothing. But Jesus issued Peter that his faith, although it would falter, would not be destroyed.
And just as Jesus had predicted, before the rooster crowed, Peter had indeed denied Christ three times as he warmed himself by the fire with Jesus enemies.
But as surely as Jesus had predicted Peter’s failure, Jesus though He had privately met with Jesus earlier in now restored in the sight of the other disciples as Jesus questions lead Peter to contemplate the attitude of his heart.
Now here in John 21:15 in the presence of these other disciples, Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John or Jonah (they are one and the same) do you love me more than these?” Jesus gently asking Peter, Peter do you really love me more than these other disciples? You see though, for the most part, the others had deserted Jesus, but they had not denied Him and their loyalty to Him.
Jesus caused Peter to count the cost!
You see, at their first encounter, Jesus had changed Simon’s name to Peter, which means “rock.” Which as your notes state, held the promise of stability and faithfulness.
Which would come about as the Lord Jesus walked Peter through a series of life changes, including this one. And though it may have been a painful reminder of the depth of Peter’s sin against God, Jesus helps lift Peter out of the depths of despair, by renewing his hope, forgiving his sin and reinstating his leadership.
Humbly, Peter replies, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.”
Then, in reply to Peter’s claim of love, Jesus instructs Peter to “Feed His lambs.”
And for the second time, in verse 16 Jesus looks at Peter and asks, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?
And John tells us that Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Then Jesus tells Peter then, “Take care of my sheep.”
You see in the past Peter’s impetuous behavior had led the others to follow Peter and not Jesus, now Jesus is saying, Peter if you really love me, you will follow me and in doing so you will lead others to me.”
Then for the third and final time, Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” And John tells us that at this, Peter though hurt, (possibly remembering the third time he denied Jesus, and maybe even wondering if he really knew himself at all, replies to Jesus questions by stating, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.”
Peter had come to understand that Jesus did indeed know him, better than he knew himself. Yet, trusted that Jesus who knew all things would enable him to love Jesus as He desired.
To which, Jesus responds, “Feed my sheep.”
Three times Peter had denied His Lord; and three times Jesus asked Peter about his love for the Lord, which was followed each time with a command to go and feed His people.
Principle: Jesus disciples those He loves in order to restore us to fruitful service.