Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do You Love Me More than These? (Jn. 21:15-19)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 26 January 2014 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 21:15-19

Servants of God sometimes lose direction.  This is the situation of the disciples in this passage.  Jesus died on the cross.  Can such a Lord lead us?  How can we place our future into His hands?  But the Lord’s plan is beyond our thoughts.  The Bible tells us that with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.  In our short-sightedness we cannot see the guidance of God and thus cannot persist in following our Lord.  Thus, the disciples went back fishing.

The Lord appeared and said peace be with them but they still did not know what to do with their lives.   The Lord died and resurrected in Jerusalem but appeared to the disciples in Galilee as they had gone back to their old job.  God caused them to catch nothing at night.  At Jesus’ command, they cast the net and caught many fish, and despite the many fish the net did not break.  It speaks of the preservation grace of God.

When they came onshore, Jesus shared with them the food He had prepared.  Some people think the church and preachers will suffer without their contribution.  It is not the case.  Jesus did not take a single fish from the disciples.  He was already preparing breakfast for them with fire, bread and fish.  God does not need anything from us.  It is the other way round.

After breakfast, Jesus went to Peter as he was the leader and needs to be dealt with.  Jesus called him “Simon, son of John”,  referring to the son of someone who has received the grace of God.  Mentioning one’s father is to remind you to remember the grace of God. 

Jesus asked, “Do you love Me more than these?” What does ‘these’ mean?  It means various things.  Do you love Me more than your boat, your fishing nets, the fishes you caught?  More than your needs?  We often love money more than we love our God.  We love our family more than our God. 

Peter said, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (v.15) And Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” The second and third time, He said, “Take care of My sheep.  Feed My sheep.” 

His disciples were charged the the responsibility of preaching the gospel.  But it is not by force.  The motivation is, “Do you love Me?”  and as an expression of that love, “Feed My lambs.”  Very few Sunday schools today truly feed the children. 

The third time Jesus asked, Peter was grieved.  He said, Lord you know everything, you know that I love you. (v.17) Then Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (v.18)

And the Scripture said, Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,“Follow me!” (v.19)

The path will get more and more narrow.  Do not think it is smooth-sailing.  Many people who serve God faced great difficulties when they get old.  Jonathan Edwards was removed from his own church, Charles Spurgeon was forced to retire.  In the case of Peter, he rebuked the emperor Nero who wanted to build Neropolis, the city of Nero after burning houses.  The emperor’s advisors said to put the blame on the Christians when people asked who burnt the houses.  As Neor burnt the cities, he accused the Christians, arrested them and threw them to the lions and burnt them at stake.  Christians were defenseless but they sang praises as they faced their death. 

Peter spoke out to the people, “It is emperor Nero who burnt your houses”.  He was condemned to death.  As he was not a Roman, he could be crucified and humiliated.  When he was about to be crucified, he remembered what Jesus said about his death.  He knew the time had come.  He said to the soldiers, “Can I ask one thing?  My Lord was crucified for the sins of the world.  I am not worthy to die like my Lord.  Please crucify me upside down.”  He died faster as the blood rushed to the brain.  It was a terrible way to die.

Jesus said, “Do you love Me more than these?”  So Peter loved the Lord and died for the Lord.  May the love of God move us all.


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