Summary: John's Gospel concludes with John's affirmation and validity of the testimony of his writing. Jesus also gives a very familiar command made dozens of times in His ministry: Follow Me!
“The Conclusion of John’s Gospel” John 21:18-25
Last week we looked at Peter’s reinstatement as a disciple in John 21:15-17: “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." 17 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.”
The calling for Peter in FOLLOWING and Loving JESUS would be to FEED HIS SHEEP and LAMBS. He would be a shepherd under the direction of the GREAT SHEPHERD, the Lord Jesus. He was to be an evangelist, training others to evangelize and teach God’s Word, and to seek steadfastly after God; Jonathan Edwards once said that the main business of believers is to seek after God. That is what a regenerated heart does: That heart and life seeks God; it wants to know more of Him, desires more than anything to worship, trust and obey Him: That’s what Peter’s life would become to the Glory of God alone.
Jesus Issues A Call Worth Dying For and a King Worth Living for.
We continue in verse 18: “I tell you the truth, 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." 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
Here Jesus makes a solemn and authoritative statement again with the words, “Verily, verily” (“I tell you the truth”), foretelling the type of death Peter would one day experience, namely, crucifixion, using the words, “but when you are old you will stretch out your hands…and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Back in John 13:37 Peter had asked Jesus: "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Shortly later came Peter’s threefold denial and last week Peter’s restoration. Now Jesus tells Peter that at the end of his life, he would indeed lay down his life for His Savior. He would not defend himself with a sword like he tried to do in the Garden, but his love for Jesus would be demonstrated in a self-sacrificing love.
Once again Jesus issues the call to “FOLLOW ME”, a command which He gives 23 times in the Gospels. It is a call to forsake all else except Jesus; IT is certainly A Call Worth Dying For because Jesus is the Only KING worth Living for. Jesus’ command to “Follow Me” began at the start of His ministry and He said it throughout His ministry; now as He is preparing to ascend to the Father, He gives the command again: CONTINUE to follow me, even after I’m gone. The Greek word is “akoloutheō”. In the Old Testament, the usage of the word “follow” was many times in the negative, warning those who were “following after false gods”; Going after or following Yahweh, THE LORD God meant “walking in God’s ways,” imitating His commands and qualities.
For Peter, following Jesus and being a Shepherd of Jesus’ sheep would involve more than teaching; it would involve pain, suffering, and ultimately execution. Jesus issues the same call to every disciple… “You Follow Me”.
In the Gospels, Jesus calls us, not only to walk behind Him but to partner with Him in the Gospel, to identify with Him in sacrifice and suffering, to walk right beside Him, to ACCOMPANY HIM, in being His disciples. “To follow Him” means a TOTAL commitment, similar to the word “agapeo” being a faithful and committed love. It is recognizing Jesus, not only as your teacher, but as your MESSIAH, your dear Savior and LORD. It is recognizing Jesus as the LORD God, the Beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega, the Great I AM.
In Revelation 14:4, John writes under God’s inspiration: “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.” The Lamb of God leads those who will follow Him, all joining together, arms interlocked in One LORD, the Lord Jesus Christ, One faith, in Him alone to save, and one Baptism, one washing by the Spirit and the shed blood of Christ.