Following Jesus and finishing with joy

John 21:15-25

When Christ Jesus invited the disciples to come and dine on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He provided the rest and food they needed after a long night of fishing. There was another matter, however, Jesus would address in this meeting with the disciples, and it is often referred to as the restoration of Simon Peter.

We are told twice that the risen Savior appeared to Peter privately. Returning from Emmaus, His followers said, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34). The second report of their meeting is found in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth when the apostle wrote, “After that he was seen of Cephas” (1 Cor. 15:5).

There is nothing that tells us where this meeting took place or how long it lasted. We do not know what they said, but we can probably safely assume the Lord allowed the meeting with Peter as a sign of His love and forgiveness.

On the seashore, Christ Jesus paved the way for a public confession of Peter’s faith in Him as Lord and Savior. First, Jesus addressed him as “Simon, son of Jonas,” a reminder to Peter of his humble beginning as a fisherman and his calling to become a fisher of men.

“Lovest thou me more than these?” Jesus asked Peter, who must have had memories of conversations and events swirling in his head. He probably remembered so clearly the confidence he had in himself when he said, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33). Christ’s questions can pierce the heart and bring the deepest humility.

When Peter expressed his love, Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Take care of the ones most vulnerable to attack. Be kind and gentle to the ones who are young in years and those who are young in following Christ.

Christ Jesus asked the question a second time, and Peter again answered that he loved Jesus. “Feed my sheep,” He said. Here, the word “feed” is better understood as tend or shepherd. Christ Jesus wanted Simon Peter to evangelize and care for the flock.

Peter was grieved when Jesus asked a third time, “Lovest thou me?” He was likely reminded of the three times he denied Christ Jesus. Again, the Savior said, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus then talked to Peter about his death in which “he should glorify God.” According to long-standing tradition, Peter was crucified upside down because he said he did not deserve to die in the same way Christ died. When He had told Peter these things, Jesus said, “Follow me.”

In this Scripture, Jesus talked to Peter about life and death. In saying “follow me,” Jesus was telling Peter to continue following Him down the road of life. Believers travel with Christ until the day He takes us home.

The Lord gives us joy now in whatever tribulations we face in life, and we know there is unimaginable joy awaiting us in eternity. Let us be like the apostle Paul who was able to say as he followed Christ down the road, “none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24). May we finish with joy and glorify God in all things.

The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]

The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]