John 21 Because It Is True!

John ends what he chose to share by explaining about himself and with what authority he can write truthfully all that we have just read. He also informs us of how much he had to choose from in selecting these things to write.  These two last verses, 24-25 read like the promo on a book jacket and that is what they are in essence. They are on the last section of the scroll. This is the first part of what is seen before you roll the scroll to the beginning to read it from the start.

John observed for himself what he wrote.  He was an eyewitness to it all.  He shares it by  choice with us. He knows that everything Jesus said was true. He was there. John does not tell us all that he experienced and saw with Jesus because there are not enough scrolls to do that, not enough at hand nor in the world! He did not add more later on to this book.  The books he wrote later were encouragement to us in how to follow Jesus i.e., how to love.  John gives us great details about Jesus. There is more than enough in what we read in this first book from John to know Jesus and to follow Him.  It’s time to apply.

IMG_1831My Lord, my Savior, my only real Hope in a world gone mad without You, thank you for preserving through Your dear friend John, a record of how You loved, and how You taught.  Here I sit, several thousand of years later, learning about you from one who walked this earth closely with You.  I am able to learn of You through the eyes of one who loved You well.  I am learning to love you too.

Today, as I sit at Your feet, I choose to rest.  I choose to sit and soak up Your presence like the dry thirsting ground in the warm gently persistent rainfall. I accept Your love and gentle ways.  I choose to rest in You.  I accept with gladness and quietness all You have done for even me. I surrender my unworthiness to You.  I’m Yours.

 

John 21 Love Has A Plan For Me

Why does Peter turn around just as Jesus has told him to follow me, and ask about John? What kind of question was this? Was Peter still comparing himself with the others?  Was it a sincere question? Did he want to know who else was being told to do what?

Do I look around and compare myself with others, using that then to judge my situation or theirs? (Apparently it was OK to ask Jesus this, as it seems OK to ask anything as long as you accept the answers!)  Be ready to go it alone with Jesus.  Yet when we go with Jesus, we are never alone. He leads us individually and He is doing that for each person.  Each one of us is responsible to Jesus. He is never too busy to be with each one of us.

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A picture just came to my mind. I am like the thread and Jesus is like the eye of the needle.  God is the weaver, the one who sews and holds all things together.  He is the one who is threading me through life in the design and purpose of His planning. I don’t want to be a feisty and twisted thread!  But if so, I can trust Him to straighten me out!

As a parent, I cannot constantly be with each of my children at all times.  I remember with my first baby, home from the hospital, I needed to take a shower.  My husband was at work.  How could I leave my child’s side for that short time for a shower?  What if she needed me, or woke?   I worried and rushed through that first shower to be back to my baby’s side!  New mom syndrome!  I giggle over this memory of my own naivety, and I surmise most new moms would have a similar story.

Jesus, love incarnate, never leaves our side to take a shower!   He is there for each of us this way. We are His children.  He is Father and Son and Holy Spirit as our God is one.  As the air is ever present with us, so is my Lord.  God breathed his breath into Adam and Adam lived.  Jesus breathed on His disciples and said receive the Holy Spirit.  Time and space and multiple children do not limit God.  He is with each of us, always. …Closer than a brother. proverbs 18:24.  Stick close to Jesus.  It’s as ‘simple’ as opening our eyes and ears, open our mind to acknowledge His presence and avail ourselves of His love for us.  It is putting Him first.

  • Forgive me Lord for ignoring You and pretending You are not with me.
  • Forgive me Lord for the thoughtless things I say and do, speaking without thinking and without listening to Your counsel, and worse, not seeking it.
  • Forgive me for not walking in confidence in the path You have set before my feet. The truth is You ARE here, I am never alone and You love me in the past, now and in the future.  There is no place too far nor too low nor too high that Your love is not there. There is no sickness, no pain, no job, no loss, no grief, no joy, no sorrow, no hope, and no emotion at all, that is away from You.  You made each of us in Your image and You made us with emotions.  Even our deepest feelings reflect You.  You loved us so much that You lived a life in the body so that we would know that no matter what we go through, You too have gone through and experienced these emotions.  And in Your resurrection, we are redeemed.
  • As with Peter, we too are restored when we love You first. To love You first and foremost.  That was always the first commandment. You are The Lord my God, who brought me out of the body of slavery to death, I am to have no other gods before You.  (Paraphrase of Ex. 20:2-3)

Jesus’s answers are clear. Jesus has His own plans for each of us and it is going to be different from His plans for others. I do not need to fret nor compare. His plan for another might be the complete opposite of His plan for me.  Each of us have a different calling.  The point is to follow Jesus where He is leading me. The plan is not as important as the leader, Jesus.  The details of each life plan are different and as unique as we are. Crafted by the hand of a loving God.  The focus is not what but who. Not where but who, not when but who, not why but who. The how, is follow. Jesus says to each of us, what is that to you? You follow Me!

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John 21 Love Follows Jesus and Tends to His Sheep

The question is first do I love Jesus?  If so, the command comes to follow Him.  To love is to follow, to feed and to tend those who are His.

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For example, Jesus confronts Peter with restorative love, in the form of food.  He makes no reference and gives no condemnation for Peter’s past mistake.  (Romans 8:1) Rather, He gives opportunity to restate commitment by asking questions : do you love Me?

If we love Jesus, which is the bottom line question, then there is work to do with and for His flock.

To be like Jesus is to forgive in the same manner, with restorative food (is this the root idea of comfort food?) personal time in close communion, without the condemnation and the dredging up of the past, and the giving of an opportunity to recommit by asking the root question, do you love Jesus?

To be like Jesus is to know the physical need of the lambs and sheep, to meet that physical need and to meet the mental and emotional needs by asking the loving question, by loving  the lambs, loving the sheep.

Please note the difference between the open question “do you love Jesus” and ” if you love Jesus you will….for you should…or you – fill in the blank.  This latter type of question is manipulative to the core.

Jesus asks us to examine the question of our love for Him.  He told Peter to tend to His flock.  Jesus can tell me also when I ask that question when someone is in need of restoration.

  • Lord let me trust You to work in and through those who need restoration.
  • Help me to ask the honest question about loving You.
  • Do I love you so that I will forgive and restore in the same manner as You have forgiven and restored me?  By Your grace!
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LISTEN

  • L longingly love–With
  • I intentionally inspired insight—In
  • S surrendered stillness—With
  • T total trust—Being
  • E emotionally empty and expectant
  • N noticing

 FOLLOW

  • Have–F faithful focus
  • WithO objective obedience
  • And —L listening leadership
  • L loyally learning
  • O openly observing
  • W willingly wondering

HOW?

  • H holy hoping
  • O objective obedience—And
  • W wholly, willing and watching.
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Jesus’s proof, the final sign of His Lordship is in the resurrection and it filled all five senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. They saw, they heard, they touched, they tasted (ate) and smelled with the resurrected Jesus. He can be known in all these ways. What a gift!

 

Lord, help me know You in all Your ways, that I may live in Your example.

John 21 Love Endures

In the same breath that commanded Peter to feed His sheep, Jesus declares what the cost of loving Him will be.  He tells Peter how he will die and it is not a pretty sight. Peter had once promised Jesus I will lay my life down for You  (v 13:37) and now he is told he gets to keep that promise.  When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. Peter will suffer greatly and part of that suffering is to loose control over your life (as even old age will do).  

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Peter has a choice, ‘follow Me’.  Would he obey? Knowing that as he would have to walk his path of loving Jesus, a path to a painful and humiliating end, how and what prepared Peter to be able to do this? At this moment his humiliation has been restored by his commitment to love, feed and tend the sheep.  He was restored with the full knowledge of his own need to depend on Jesus, to love Jesus and that the love of Jesus would allow him to die a painful, yet glorifying to Jesus, death.

This, Lord, is a treasure that does not appeal to me.  I confess it. It is not mine, it was Peters and is a path You may also give to others.  Lord, may the words of this section bless those who face painful trials. I confess I resist pain.  Like Peter, I am guilty of capitulation within a circumstance of trial.

  • Lord give me strength to love You truly that I shall not give in under trials. Like John, let me love you obediently, let my actions, thoughts and judgments reflect my love and may my love for you grow and deepen daily.
  • Develop in me skills of listening that I may follow closely.
  • Forgive my inept and prideful stumblings of my mouth.
  • Guard my words and actions.
  • Fill my actions , my words, my teaching, with Your Holy Spirit.
  • Lord, help me to endure and live a life that ages gracefully, trusting You to control my life and give me strength to bear all consequences of the aging process including the possible loss of control over my life and my body.

John 21 Restoration

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In these same verses 15-17, I also surmise the job description for the pastors of our churches (and all the church members as well).  Here is the guide for those with the smaller flocks and even as parents of our own small flock.  And what is a healthy church based on these verses?

A healthy church must provide proper spiritual food, proper teaching for the young, and the immature in Christ.

A healthy church must take care of the broken, help the hurting and the troubled ones in the flock. Clearly this includes the widows, the abandoned ones, and ministry within the church to those broken by sin, by denial, for healing and growth.  And, that sometimes means my own person as well.  I too must accept help, even seek it, when I am in those places of brokenness.  And when I am not there, I must be ready to share what I can, when and where I can, as the Lord so leads me.  So I must take care of the broke, I must help the hurting and the troubled one’s that the Lord has put in my flock, whether my position is that of a leader, a pastor, a teacher, a parent or simply a neighbor or a customer.

A healthy church must feed its sheep, teach the mature ones as well.  No one has learned it all.  We must continue to grow and share. To love.

How am I doing in this? Am I an active part in my church in this process of love for Jesus’ sake?  We love, because He first loved us.   Peters restoration is our restoration that awaits us when we ask the one important question that overcomes our denial of Jesus.

    • Do you love Me?  (Do I love Jesus?)  
    • Then feed my lambs…take care of my sheep… feed my sheep
    • Lord, I love You.  Remind me this day to feed your lambs and care for your sheep and feed your sheep.  Let my eyes open to those You have placed me among that Your love will make my heart tender towards those You love.

 

 

John 21 Loving and Being Loved

NASB says tendshepherd…tend

GW says feed…take care…feed

It’s desert time for Peter!

IMG_1817He is traveling in the desert of restoration and challenge as he is forgiven and then commissioned for his life ahead.  I am struck by the significance of the underlying reason for all work that is to be done for Jesus. It is to be done because we love Jesus.  Because Peter loves Jesus, he is to tend to the lambs of the flock and feed the sheep.  The root is LOVE.

The question was the same each time.

  • Do you love me?
  • Love with reasoning, intentional love, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father?
  • What was the opposite of loving Jesus?  Denying Him.

John 18:17-18, 25-27 Peter had been asked three questions as well.  You are not also one of this mans disciples, are you? The first question was asked by the gatekeeper who knew apparently who John was, and yet Peter denied. As Jesus confronts Peter, who is Peter now?  You know that I love You, he tells Jesus. And Peter is told to feed the babies in the flock, the children, and the immature that belong to The Lord.

Second time in John 18 and Peter is asked if he loves Jesus, as again he had denied Him. The same question, now asked by the officers of the high priest who stood around the same warming fire, you are not also one of His disciples, are you?  This time, in response,  Jesus tells Peter to shepherd, to take care of His sheep- the grown ups, the sheep, to lead them, to heal their wounds, to guide them.

The third restoration from denial came in contrast to the question from the slave cousin of the one whom Peter had cut off the ear of (which Jesus had healed on the spot during His arrest.)  Did I not see you in the garden with Him?   An eye witness?  Peter lies again and denies it and hears the cock crow just as Jesus had warned.  Now, this third time that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Peter’s heart was racing and he was humbled to the core, grieving over his own failure under the pressure at the time.  How can Jesus trust him so after such a failure?  Yet he loves Jesus more than the others, he is consumed with love and frustrated in pain over his own failure to live up to his own love.  Embarrassment central!  So he admits his struggle, he declares his love and then, joy upon joy,  Jesus again tells him to feed His sheep -to provide healthy food and water, and to teach.

Forgiveness happened at the cross, restoration happens face to face with Jesus.

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Jesus Christ Life Size Sculpture Bust Shroud of Turin Gives inspiration to all http://www.ebay.com/usr/haveafriendinjesus?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
  • Who am I?
  • Do I love Jesus?
  • Am I also one of His disciples?
  • Have I been seen in the garden with Him?
  • Do I love Jesus?  Then am I feeding the lambs? Am I tending the sheep of His flock?
  • How do I love Jesus? By loving my fellow believers!
  • How was the early church known? By their love for one another.
  • Is my love for Jesus showing in my care for believers?  For lost sheep?  For neighboring sheep in His flock?
  • There are sheep in far away countries that struggle for food and water, safety and security, His flock, His persecuted.  How am I doing with my love for them?  Am I seeing to their food?
  • Do I love Jesus? Then I, if I follow the example set in Jesus command to Peter, am also charged with feeding the lamb and the sheep and tending to their needs.

Father, forgive me for my stingy choices and thank you for the reminder to love my sisters and brothers.  Guide me today to where and how I can share my time and share my resources with Your flock here in my neighborhood and around the world.

John 21 A Place at the Campfire

Jesus first asked Peter about comparative love.  He asked Peter to compare how much love he had for Him compared to the love the others had for him.  Imagine your dad or mom asking you if you loved him more than all your siblings.  Awkward! Peter had eagerly jumped from the boat to be the first to greet Jesus, leaving the others to deal with the work of that big fish haul. For Peter, it may have felt awkward at first.

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John’s first mention of Peter is when he is introduced to Jesus.  The first recorded thing John chooses to tell us about Peter is that Jesus changed his name from Simon to “Cephas”  translated to Peter.  The Aramaic word for stone, Peter being the Greek term.  Other translations add  Peter has a natural bent toward leadership. A strong leader often acts with confidence in his group to take care of the details.  In fact, per Luke’s version  (Chapter 5) of the first fishing instance with Jesus, Peter fell at Jesus’ feet proclaiming his utter sinfulness.  At this point in John, Peter’s love for Jesus is almost on autopilot.

Did he even think about anyone else when he got the message from John that that must be Jesus on shore? He did think about himself and facing Jesus!   Peter hurried to put on his tunic before he swam to face Jesus.  I guess he wanted to be fully covered before facing Jesus- and I wonder if he felt much the same way as he felt the first time, unworthy.  But this time, He had walked with Jesus and followed Him so He knew much more of His character.  So he prepared.  he covered himself then he dove in head first to meet him.

  • How well do I know Jesus?
  • What do I need to do to prepare before I rush to meet him?
  •  Is this even the message for me, how much like Peter am I?
  • Or am I to be one of the faithful followers, recognizing Peter’s need for one on one time with Jesus?
  • Recognizing the need to finish the job at hand and bring Jesus’ catch ashore? a
  • It is good to know, that whoever I am, Jesus has a place set for me too.
  • Is it enough to be eager?

Jesus had Peter go back and bring him the fish for their supper.  Peter was the one who picked the dinner fish out of the net he drew up on the land, he too had to finish the work.  Jesus asked Peter to compare. Do you love me more than these?


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Credit AP

Yes! Peter proclaimed with confidence, and promise. Peter had failed more than they and now he is determined to love more. So Jesus commands him to feed my lambs.   The word choice meant to provide food, to tend, the responsibility of a shepherd to lead the sheep to places where there is food and to meet their needs. Feed, tend, feed. Tend, shepherd, tend. Sounds like a mothering job to me.

Lord help me take my job seriously, as a work for You, no matter the size of my flock nor the location.

John 21 Manifested

lion fishAll through the meal, Peter had to have been on edge, waiting to be called out.  His remorse was powerful.  Was it this desperation that took him fishing? Why did the group of seven disciples leave Jerusalem? Why some and not all? That word manifested, …Jesus was manifested to the disciples…v14 means that Jesus showed Himself as if He is already there but that he somehow gathers himself together into his human form and reveals it, shows it, to them. Yes, we say He is always here, omnipresent God, God present in His creation as a reflection of His own character. He is present in each one who has received His Holy Spirit by faith. He is reflected in our actions of faith and ordeals of faith. He is present also in the face of humanity created in his image that seeks to do good and love each other, and as they seek truth, He reveals Himself.

Lord, bring salvation to Your lost sheep.  There are so many made in Your image who are walking lost in the valley of the shadow of death and they do not see nor hear You there.  You have opened the way and You have sent those who have put their faith in You…and You call for more of us to go, and more of us to support those who have gone.  Father, forgive me my selfishness and thoughts for my own comfort over those of Your lost sheep.  Forgive my self idolatry. Let me trust in Your plans for my future, not my own.

John 21 Establishing a New Normal

img_0293.jpgBreakfast was over. Perhaps a good twenty minutes of eating together or perhaps longer.  Was there small talk at this meal or just joy and wonder and perhaps a giggle or two? It took time to cook all that fish also, so they had some good time at that cook out. Maybe these seven men spent an hour together. Just over half the group was there.  A party of eight.  Good size for a small group.  How normalizing this meal must have been as an experience for these men.  So many shocking changes over the past few weeks. And now a nice normal beach party. To dine with the Creator. To rest, refreshed and assured!  To rest content now knowing the depth of the love of my Creator and Savior has for us and which shows in the next conversation with Peter and Jesus.

Lord, remind me take time to cook with you, to eat with you, to establish my own new normal on this side of your resurrection.  Remind me daily that it is with You that I walk, eat, go about my work, go about my play and rest.  Take me to the beach with you Lord! Refresh my soul!

John 21 Jesus’s Joy is Us!

Peter rushed to Jesus.  Do I do that?

I don’t know what Jesus said to him when he pulled himself out of the water onto the beach after that 100-yard swim, but it is quite a picture in my mind.  I bet Jesus enjoyed watching that swim! It must bring God great pleasure to see his child run to Him, eager to be with Him especially when the child has been burdened with guilt and shame.  Jesus did yell out across the water to all the men on the boat and called them Children, you do not have any fish, do you?  Ha ha!  I bet He was grinning from ear to ear anticipating their reaction.  Were they so used to being called children, these adult men?

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John arrives and they are asked to get some fish.  It is Peter who draws the net ashore. Last time they did this, the first time they met the man Jesus, they were told they would become fishers of men.  This time, they meet the risen Jesus and they eat with Him. They share the catch, although Jesus already had his fish cooking. They caught their food with the help of Jesus, they wrestled the nets ashore and brought fish to Jesus and Jesus did the cooking, Jesus did the serving.

They eat with Jesus and Jesus again breaks bread with them. Jesus provided the bread to share with them.  Loaves and fishes.  It is their meal of the miraculous.  Jesus is the chef. Jesus is the host.

  • Jesus made Himself visible to them and why does part of me see this as scary and another part as glorious?
  • Do I also doubt that I am doing all I can and should for Him?
  • Yet, he rejoiced to welcome them all to his little cookout on the beach.
  • Lord I thank You for Your joyful spirit and I ask that I remember this beach when I break bread in remember of You.