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John’s gospel post 87: The End

April 25, 2014

John 21:15 – 25

Yes time to talk.

I know what you’re thinking. They’re always talking in John’s gospel!

But specifically it’s time for Jesus to talk to Peter.

Jesus has given Simon a new name along the way. He is Peter the rock. But while he has said all the right things he has not been rock like in his support of Jesus. Denied 3 times.

“Do you love me more than these?” More than what? The boats and the nets and fish? The other disciples? Is his love better than theirs. I have heard so many different interpretations of this.

But Peter’s answer is simple “you know I love you”. No comparisons. No distractions.

And the carpenter tells the fisherman to feed his lambs.

He asks again and gets the same reply.

And the carpenter tells the fisherman to take care of his sheep.

He asks again. Again there are lots of theologians who talk about the different words for love used here.

But Peter is hurt. 3 times! Is Jesus doubting him? Or perhaps Peter is remembering all too painfully his 3 denials.

He explodes “Lord you know everything. You know I love you!”

Feed my sheep.

It’s a reinstatement.

For every denial an opportunity to reiterate his love for his teacher.

And a new job. The fisherman becomes a shepherd. Jesus talked about being a shepherd to his followers. As he prepares to leave, he gives Peter that job.

“Do you love me?” How would you answer that. What will you say to Jesus in church on Sunday? You will sing how much you love him. You will sing and pray total commitment, but will another voice within you whisper “do you really love Jesus? Honestly? Look at yourself”.

Scary isn’t it? In the end Peter has to say “YOU know!”

You know I don’t even think I know myself very well. I’m not sure of the full extent of my commitment. I am never entirely sure if my motives are pure.
I don’t even know myself completely? Can anyone?

Well, only Jesus. He knows us inside out. Our strengths and weaknesses. Our successes and failures. When what we think does not equal what we say.

And he loves us. Enough to have done all this for us.

I don’t want to make big claims about what I will do for Jesus. I am conscious that I can talk very big and not deliver.

Peter was reinstated. He had failed but the result is a new job caring for other followers of Jesus.

The stark realities are not far away though as Jesus tells Peter something of his future. It is known that Peter himself was one day crucified for his faith. The denier was later prepared to pay the ultimate price. Like Jesus his hands will be ‘stretched out’.

“Follow me”.

Peter suddenly spies John, and asks Jesus, “What about him? What’s his future”.

That is not something Jesus is going to share. Perhaps John would survive until it was time to head off with the returning Jesus to the house with many rooms.

Supposedly some people took from that that John would never die. Jesus would come back first. 2000 years later we can safely say that isn’t the case!

The writer says “I’ve told you about this stuff because I was there. I followed Jesus. I heard and I saw. You can trust me”.

Jesus we are told did many other things. Indeed! There are 3 other biographies of Jesus, which contain many more examples of what Jesus did. It seems John was very selective.

And if we’re honest it is unlikely that all four gospels together scrape the surface.

Such a big man needs a big library. An extraordinary life. The life.

John has finished.

For now….

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