Summary: What is the most important nourishment for the family?
When Olin and Claryce Merrett came in for the service Wednesday night, I gave my usual, “Hello,” and asked, “How are you doing, Olin?” Olin replied, “Pretty good, I guess. I’m still taking nourishment.”
We know a lot about nourishment these days. You can hardly watch television or read a magazine or newspaper without coming across all kinds of ads for better nourishment. Whether it is vitamin supplements or meal plans, everyone seems to be saying, “You need better nourishment. The right nourishment helps you make it through your day.”
That type of nourishment has to do with healthy eating. When you read the sermon title, you might think that’s what this message is about, but the focus of this sermon is not healthy eating. So if you had biscuits and gravy with fried potatoes and a side of bacon for breakfast, rest easy. You’re off the hook. The nourishment I am concerned about is not physical nourishment. It’s a different kind of nourishment. This nourishment does not come from any of the food groups, but it is the most important nourishment your family can have. But it too is nourishment that can help your family make it through the day. We will discover the most important nourishment for your family.
To make this discovery, let us look at a meal shared between Jesus and his disciples. I call it the last breakfast. The account is found in John 21.
Let’s set the scene. The disciples have been fishing all night but have caught nothing. Frustrated and bewildered the guys hear a man on shore yell, “Catch anything?” The disciples yell back, “No. We can’t find any.” The guy on shore yells back a tip, “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat and you will find some.” Desperate and willing to try anything, the disciples do so and pull in a boatload of fish.
John says to Peter, “That guy on shore - it is the Lord!” Peter wastes no time. He jumps out of the boat and heads toward Jesus, swimming (I guess). The disciples follow in the boat. I imagine Jesus has a big smile on His face and probably laughs as He sees the guys scrambling to get to Him.
When they get to shore, Jesus has built a fire and has prepared breakfast. The weary fishermen gather around the fire with Jesus and eat breakfast. Now let’s pick up the story at v. 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."
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."
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.”
Before the passion of Christ, Peter had professed on two occasions his undying loyalty to Jesus. On one occasion he boasted of the “superiority of his loyalty” saying, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matt. 26:33). Then, at the Last Supper, Peter said, “I will lay down my life for you.” In his enthusiastic pride, Peter had thought he was more loyal than any of the other disciples. As it turned out, he was little more committed than Judas. When push can to shove, Peter got shoved! On the night Jesus was arrested, the brash, outspoken Peter became a scared kid. That night, as he stood around a fire of burning coals, Peter said:
“I do not know this man”
“I do NOT know this man”
“I DO NOT KNOW THIS MAN!” - denying the one for whom he said he
would lay down his life.
Now, around another fire of coals, Jesus confronts Peter. We might expect Jesus to be upset with Peter, to maybe even rebuke him, but there is none of that. The scene is solemn, but not tense.
With every man still around the fire, digesting his breakfast, Jesus addresses Peter. Did you notice how Jesus addresses him? I bet Peter did! Jesus did not use the friendly nickname that He had given. Rather, Jesus addressed Peter by his birth name, Simon son of John. The address suggests the solemnity of the occasion. It likely communicated to Peter, “I’m serious, listen up.” With everyone watching, Jesus wanted Peter to affirm his loyalty just as emphatically as he had earlier rejected it.
There is a strong correction in the first question: do you love me more than these? Do you love me more than these other disciples? No doubt Peter was reminded of his brash statement, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” But he had. Now Jesus seems to say, “Think again. Are you sure?”