Summary: An exegetical study of Christ’s reinstatement of Peter as told by John, focusing on the lessons it holds for us today.
Demonstrating A Love for Christ
Scripture Ref: John 21:15-22
Additional References: The Bible Knowledge Commentary
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament
a. We love to sing the hymn, “Oh, How I Love Jesus”; but how much do you truly love Him? Would you answer this question the same way as Peter when Christ asked him?
b. Read John 21:15-22
c. Prior to this passage, Peter has denied Christ three times before His crucifixion. After the crucifixion, rather than continuing the ministry Jesus had started, Peter, apparently returns to his old profession—fishing. (EXPLAIN)
(1) Seven disciples were present: Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John, and two others. They had gone fishing.
(2) They were unsure of what they should do or be, so they returned to what they knew—fishing. They were ready to return to their old life.
d. The NIV titles this passage Jesus Reinstates Peter, but Christ ultimately teaches two lessons through this passage we can all use.
(1) We can still serve even after we fail Him.
(2) If we love Him we will do three things:
(a) We will take care of those “spiritually” entrusted to us.
(b) We will go where He leads and do what He says.
(c) We focus on what He has called us to do.
e. This morning I want to focus on the second part of that lesson.
2. If You Love Me…
In the book, No Bad Dogs, by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, she says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. The love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic tail wagging and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But, to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.” The real test of our walk of Faith isn’t seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It’s found in this: when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, do we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, to obey? (Contributed by Greg Yount, SermonCentral Pro)
b. Reread verses 15-17
c. After denying Christ three times, Peter is given three opportunities to proclaim his love for Christ.
d. Verse 15
(1) Question: Do you truly love (agapao — God-like love) me more than these? Answer: You know that I love (phileo—love of a friend or brother) you.
(a) Truly love refers to loving with the entire personality, including the will.
(b) When He said “more than these,” Jesus was probably referring to the disciples, since Peter had proudly said he would never fall away, regardless of what the others did.
· Could have meant, “more than you love these men” or “more than these men love me” or “more than you love these things (i.e., fishing gear and fish).
· Regardless of the focus, the underlying meaning is, “Am I more important to you than anything else?”
(2) Command: Feed (bosko — pasture) my lambs (arnion — lambs). (Expound on significance of pasture and lambs.)
e. Verse 16
(1) Question: Do you truly love me? Answer: You know that I love you. The same Greek words for love and taking care of the sheep as used in verse 15.
(a) Focus of the question changes from a comparison of the love being questioned to a pointed question aimed directly at Peter.
(b) Peter’s response indicates he just is not grasping what Jesus is asking him.
(2) Command: Take care of (poimaino — tend or supervise) my sheep (probaton).
f. Verse 17
(1) Question: Do you love (phileo — friend/brotherly love) me? Answer: You know (eido — see, literally or figuratively) all things, you know (ginosko — know absolutely) that I love you.
(a) Peter, at this point, is frustrated. Christ is either not hearing him or is not understanding him when he answers the question the third time.