Hi, it’s Mick here and welcome to Fridays Podcast. Our theme throughout this week has been ‘encouragement’ and I do so hope that you have experienced the encouragement of Jesus through these Bible reflections from John’s account of the Easter story. Back to Mark’s gospel next week and his account over the next weeks of the Easter story – you cannot have too much of Easter!
We now come to the final verses in John’s gospel and our reading today is John 21:15-25; this passage follows on from yesterday’s breakfast on the beach story and involves a challenging conversation between Jesus and his friend Peter – one phrase to reflect upon – v19 Jesus says to Peter ‘Follow me’.
The gospel of John ends as it began with a call from Jesus to his disciples to follow him. It’s our call today – to follow Jesus wherever he leads. As we each respond to this call in our own way we are faced with two key life questions – questions which are part of our life as church family at STC.
Firstly, who am I? (my identity) and secondly what am I doing? (my purpose in life).
Firstly, our identity … knowing who I am gives real freedom to be who I am. Jesus asks Peter three times ‘Do you love me’ (v15,16,17). Yes, says Peter. Jesus is saying to Peter and to us today this fundamental truth – you are known by God, you are loved by God, your identity is in the God who loves you. You cannot earn this love, it’s a free gift. Tricia and I have three grown up children, all very different but all are loved equally by us; they don’t have to be what they are not, they don’t have to be who we think they should be, they just have to be who they are. Our job over the years has been to help them, direct them, challenge them at times, always be there for them and just simply love them as best we can.
Secondly, our purpose … what am I doing with my life? Purpose comes from identity. When I realise who I am I can begin to figure our what I’m supposed to be doing. In my twenties, before I became a Christian, my purpose was wrapped up in ambition and success; to ‘get on’ in life, to earn more and get more and to build a good life. Over these many years of following Jesus I have changed. My ambition now is to follow Jesus every day and try to live a Godly and significant life for Him – to help others, especially young people, know that in Him is the better life. It sounds cheesy I know but it’s true! That is my goal, my focus, my ambition, my purpose.
One of the great distractions to understanding our identity and purpose is ‘comparison’ – ‘If only I could be ….’ or ‘I’m better than her’ … or ‘Hey, look at me …’ Christians are not exempt from comparison! Peter gets drawn into this comparison game in v21 and Jesus drops on this immediately in v22 basically saying, ‘Never mind him, you just follow me’. That’s good and Godly advice!
Comparison in itself is not wrong – as we learn from others we can grow as human beings, for example, it’s one way children develop. St Paul when speaking to the church in Philippi said ‘whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice’ (Phil4:9). He goes on to say to the church in Corinth ‘Imitate me’ but then went on to say this key word ‘as I imitate Christ’ (1 Cor 11:1) – it’s the life of Jesus we imitate. Comparison is a major distraction when it becomes the centre of our lives and draws us away from following Jesus.
So, as we end this week of reflections, be encouraged because God has a great plan for your life, your family and your future. The Easter story reminds us that we can now know the peace and presence of Jesus every day, we can follow him and his ways with confidence every day and fulfil our God given destiny. It’s the best and only way to live! Thank God for Easter!
Lord Jesus, thank you that my life is not random. Thank you that I am known by you, loved by you and that you have a plan and a purpose for my life. What an encouragement! Thank you that every day as I follow you, we can work out together the details of your plan and purpose for my life. Exciting! Amen
READING: John 21:15-25
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. 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.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’
Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Because of this, the rumour spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.