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Nov 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 18, 2012 – John 21:15-23

Why Did Jesus Say That?

Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:22

INTRO: Do you feel you’re clear on the role Jesus plays in your life?

It’s too easy to glibly use words like “Lord,” “Savior,” even “Friend”
– the question isn’t about Jesus’ role in the religious part of your life
• do we leave him waiting in the margin until we need him? — like a ceramic figurine we keep in a closet and pull out in an emergency?
– what about the normal stuff? – the everyday ups and downs?
• Jesus does not want to be assigned to the irrelevant places, events, or decisions of our lives

This last chapter of John is an epilogue – sort of an afterthought
– the first fourteen verses are encapsulated to make a specific point
• John begins and ends this unit by telling us what happens in it — “Jesus manifested Himself”
– this did not happen in a religious context – there were no candles, incense, or religious symbols
• nor did it happen when the disciples had a special spiritual feeling
• it happened on the shoreline of a lake and it is likely they were feeling down
○ they had gone back to their business
○ they returned to where they were the first time they met Jesus
– whatever thoughts we have about Jesus’ role in our lives,
• he feels he belongs in the heart of it
○ where we spend most our time, think most our thoughts 

John doesn’t explain how or why they were back in Galilee

Merrill C. Tenney suggests three possibilities:
1. to escape the heat of being fugitives in Jerusalem
2. they were doing what they were told to do (Mt. 26:32; 28:7)
3. they were discouraged — Tenney, “The kingdom had not arrived, and they had to make a living.”
• they were on their own again and they seem somewhat aimless
• the magic was over and they had to get back to real life
– Peter made his announcement, “I am going fishing”

There are three main characters in the story: Jesus, Peter, and John
G. C. Morgan characterizes Peter as “the practical man of action”
– John, he says “was the contemplative man” – the dreamer who saw visions
– they sat all night in the boat with getting even a nibble
• when the sun rose, someone was on shore calling to them
• told them to try again, on the other side of the boat
– then came moment of recognition – John said, “It is the Lord”

I’m not at all surprised that contemplative was first to recognize Jesus
– he knew Jesus in a way that was different from the others
• who needed identifiers, like seeing or touching his wounds
– of course, it was Peter who was first to act
• they had thrown their net in water, now Peter threw himself in the lake
• it’s like this was the signal he had been waiting for
○ now that Jesus was there, calling to them, immediately Peter was “all in”

Jesus had a fire ready and breakfast prepared
– John makes an interesting statement – they did not ask “Who are You,” knowing that it was the Lord
• why even bother to mention this? why create this uneasy feeling if they were sure?
• this seems to suggest an inner knowing
– their rational mind struggled with the fact of the resurrected Jesus, but in their spirit they knew him

That’s it – that’s John’s story
– Jesus manifested himself to them on their native turf
– from then on, his place was in the everyday environments of their lives

Still, John hasn’t finished writing – he has not yet accomplished his goal

There’s a question that has not been resolved: Can Jesus entrust his ministry to these men?
– in light of recent events, that proposition looks shaky
– to find the answer, John lets Peter serve as a representative of all the disciples

1. First Peter is tested – there’s one criteria the disciples must meet
– “Simon, son of John” – the only other time Jesus used this phrase is when they first met

Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter) (Jn. 1:42)

• the new name signified a new person, a new destiny
• but here, Jesus uses his old name, all three times he asked the question

Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? (v. 15)

In the margin, the New American Standard Bible points out that Jesus and Peter use two different words for love
– Jesus: agapeo, a love of sincere and loyal devotion
– Peter: phileo, the affectionate love of a friend
• due to guilt, shame, or some other reason, Peter cannot lift his confession to the height Jesus set
A. T. Robertson observed, Peter “insists that Christ knows this in spite of his conduct.”
phileo is apparently good enough for Jesus, “Feed My lambs”

But then Jesus asked the same question, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?
– note: they are his sheep — his concern is that they receive proper care

The third time Jesus asks the question, he switches to Peter’s word, phileo
– Peter can’t do anything but throw himself on Jesus
• again, that’s good enough for the Lord

2. As Peter is being tested, he is also receiving his assignment, “Feed My lambs,” “Tend My sheep”
Simon had been a fisherman — Peter was called to be a shepherd

3. Next, Jesus explains what his new life will be like
– a transformation from what the younger man was and did to what the older man will be and do
• John says that Jesus was also hinting at Peter’s death
• but this new person Peter was becoming would be able to go through with it
○ unlike the old “Simon” who denied knowing Jesus

4. Finally, Jesus gave Peter his one, greatest objective: “Follow Me”
– Peter’s destiny was to die for Jesus
• his instructions are, “Follow Me” — into death, and this time without backing down

Perhaps Peter wanted to divert attention from himself

So he turned away, saw John, and asked, “Lord, what about this man?”
– but Jesus doesn’t fall for it – he keeps the pressure on Peter

If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me! (v. 22)

– it is obvious that from the start, this statement caused confusion (v. 23) — so . . .

Why did Jesus say that?

  1. Jesus wanted to be the central focus of Peter’s attention
    – Peter’s challenge had always been to keep his eyes on Jesus
    • in the storm, “But seeing the wind, he became frightened”
    – as long as Jesus was his main concern, he would succeed
  2. Jesus did not want Peter thrown off course
    – Peter had his work to do
    – if he got distracted by what someone else was doing, his work would not get done
  3. Jesus was concerned for his sheep
    – he was thinking of them
    I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (Jn. 10:16)
  4. Jesus did not want Peter comparing his ministry to anyone else
    – the statement, “remain until I come” is radical
    • people should have recognized it as exaggeration
    • but it makes Jesus’ point perfectly – the greatest contrast
    ○ Peter has his orders and destiny and John has is, and it makes no difference if Peter’s is martyrdom and John’s was to live until Jesus returned
    – look at the personal pronouns and notice what Jesus is saying: “I” and “him” are not your concern
    • your concern is “you” and “Me”
  5. Jesus wanted to clarify what “love one another” meant
    – it is not a license to violate another person’s boundaries
    • in the Pentecostal church where I was raised, people used “lay hands” on others without their permission
    ○ and they way they did it could be terrifying
    • some Christians ask others personal questions without having a close relationship with them
    – “love one another” doesn’t mean worrying about what Jesus wants them to do
    • it means to be supportive, but not intrusive
    • to be concerned, but not nosy
    • helpful, but not controlling

CONC: I recently came to a realization about Reflexion (us) and my role here

I’ve known that Paul defined it in Galatians

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you– (Gal. 4:19)

I’ve taken this to my objective with you as individuals
– but a couple of weeks ago I checked the Greek text, and “you” is plural
– God’s intention is the formation of Christ within us as a spiritual community

The beauty of this is the simple fact that you don’t have to carry Christianity forward or into world single-handed
– you’re not the whole deal – no one person does everything
• and we don’t all do the same thing
○ Evangelists think every Christian is supposed to be an evangelist; so they tell us we should be passing out pamphlets on the street, etc.
○ Missionaries think every Christian is supposed to be a missionary–or else support them; so we get pressured into cross-cultural ministry or paying for it
○ Bible scholars think every Christian is supposed to be a Bible scholar . . . etc.

One of the reasons so many Evangelicals are giving up on “church” is because they’re burned out
– for years, they’ve been pressured to do things they haven’t been called to do
• other Christians have been called to do the things you can’t do and haven’t been called to do
• whatever God wants you to do, he has already been preparing you to do
○ it does us no good to compare Peter and John — or to expect Peter to fulfill John’s call or John to fulfill Peter’s

The same is true of this spiritual community
– we’re only one small part of the church
– we have to keep or focus on what God wants us to be or do, or else the part that is up to us gets diluted

If not clear on what you’re supposed to do, at least know what you don’t — what you haven’t been called to do

And, if you get lost somewhere along the way, follow Jesus

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