Expository Studies

Play Video
Play Video

Daily Encouragement

Play Video

May 8, 2011

John 21:16, Page 1698

“He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.'”

The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus

Part X

“Shepherd My Sheep”

        I remember an old Texan who once told me he used to raise sheep.  He said: “Sheep were always looking for a place to die.”  He meant that they were always subject to attack by coyotes, wolves, and other predators,   plus they depended upon someone helping them with water and food.  He had quit raising sheep because they were way too much trouble.   Jesus and Peter both knew about sheep, and that they always needed a shepherd to keep them safe and secure.  The shepherd had a constant duty to the sheep to lead them to green pastures and to protect them from predators.  As part of His post-resurrection ministry, Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd of the flock of Jesus, because Peter loved Jesus.  You will never make much of a shepherd unless you love the sheep, as Jesus described in John 10:1-18, pages 1675-1676.  Jesus will always be the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, page 1675)  and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4, page 1899).  Jesus examines Peter’s love in our passage today, and He will examine your love too, as you read through this passage.

       Tend My Lambs.  You must appreciate the background to this morning of breakfast with Jesus.  Jesus had earlier predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the cock crowed (John 18:17, 25, 27, pages 1691-1692).    After hearing this dismaying prophecy from Jesus, Peter asserted his own boastful self-confidence, and his superiority to the other disciples: “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33, page 1550).  The circumstances at the beach also bear similarity to the denials of Peter.  Peter denied Jesus around a charcoal fire (John 18:16, page 1691), and now they have gathered together around a charcoal fire (John 21:9, page 1697).   Bible scholars have pointed other similarities between the denials of Peter and this declaration of his love for Jesus.  In this passage, we should note that Jesus confirms Peter’s ministry before everyone who knew that Peter had denied Jesus three times.   Now Jesus will have Peter affirm His love for Him three times.  Jesus does not toss Peter away for his sin, but rather uses the humbled Peter to shepherd His sheep.  Remember, Jesus had told him that Satan sought to sift Peter like wheat, but Jesus had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.  He also told Peter to strengthen his brothers in Christ after after he turned back to Christ, and away from his denials (Luke 22:31-34, pages 1645-1646).  This first question Jesus asks Peter concerns a comparison between Peter’s love for Jesus as compared to the love the other disciples had for Jesus.  Remember, Peter had exalted himself improperly saying he would not deny Jesus, even if all the other disciples did deny Jesus.  In the past, Peter claimed to love Jesus more than all the other disciples.  Jesus will now retrace the things Peter had said when Jesus told Peter about the denials.  Peter answers Jesus by saying that he had fond affection (“φιλῶ“) for Jesus.  Notice that Jesus had asked Peter: “Do you love (“ἀγαπᾷς“) me?”  Some Bible scholars equate the two words “philo” and “agapas” here, but in the context, it seems significant that Peter did not use the stronger term Jesus used in comparing Peter’s love with the love that the other disciples had for Jesus.  Instead, Peter used a smaller term, of brotherly affection, which shows Peter was no longer making a boastful comparison between his great love, and the other disciples smaller love.  Peter had been humbled by his denials, especially after his boastful, and untruthful, comparison between himself and the other disciples.  This first question and answer now sets straight that Peter does not consider that he loves Jesus more that the other disciples love Jesus.  Peter affirms his love, but no longer boasts of a love that makes him superior to the other disciples.  Jesus then commands Peter: “Tend my lambs.”   Jesus used the term “lambs” (“ἀρνία“) here to denote the young and immature believers.  They require feeding and shepherding by Peter.

       Shepherd My Sheep.  Jesus now asks Peter the second question: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Again, Jesus uses the term love (“ἀγαπᾷς“) in His question.  Peter now responds, “Yes, Lord.  You know that I love (“φιλῶ“) You” (John 21:16, page 1698).   As we have seen above, Peter three times denied the Lord, and now Peter will declare his love for the Lord Jesus three times.  Jesus now tells Peter, “Shepherd My Sheep.”  Jesus loves to strengthen and restore people after they fall into sin.  While Jesus maintains His essential holiness and purity, He still became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, page 1809).  In Jesus, we have no condemnation from God (Romans 8:1, page 1768).  With Peter, Jesus now commands him to act like a shepherd (“Ποίμαινε“).  As a shepherd, Peter would lay down his life for the sheep, and lead them, so that they would find pasture (John 10:3, 9, page 1675).   Notice also the term here for sheep (“πρόβατά“)  speaks of adult, mature sheep.  Peter also had a duty to care for the entire flock of sheep, and perform the duties of a shepherd.  Instead of disqualifying Peter from ministry, his denials had humbled him and made him dependent upon Christ, instead of boastfully relying upon himself.

       Tend My Sheep.  Jesus asks now the third question: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved (John 21:17, page 1698).   We can identify with Peter’s grief because Jesus had repeatedly questioned Peter’s affection for Christ, when Jesus is asking about Peter’s Godly love for Christ.  Peter now, with grief, appeals to the omniscience of Jesus as God.  God knows all things, and Peter declares that Jesus knows all things.  When we feel the pain of spiritual turmoil in hearts as we sit before God, we can never do better than declaring and relying upon the great attributes of God and trusting in Him.  We can, like Peter, trust in God to know everything about us, perfectly and without error.  But even better, God loves us and applies His love with His knowledge.  In this case, Peter says first that Jesus knows (“οἶδας“) and has known all things.  This term for know means to know intuitively or by reflection.  Peter then says “You know (“γινώσκεις“) that I love (“φιλῶ“) You.”   This second term for know means to know by observation or experience.  So, in essence, Peter is saying to Jesus you have known all my past and present by your divine knowledge, and you also have seen me personally and witnessed my behavior.  Jesus tells Peter now: “Tend My Sheep.”    Three times Peter declares that he loves the Lord Jesus, and three times Jesus commands Peter to look after His sheep. 

        So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.

       ●  Jesus loves to restore fallen believers to Himself, and to do so in front of all the other disciples Peter had previously insulted with his own puffed-up view of himself.  After the three denials of Jesus, Jesus now leads Peter through three declarations of his love for the Lord Jesus.

       ●  Jesus loves to lead us into service for Him.  He commands us to fulfill our own unique ministries for Him, and they all rest upon our love for Him.  Our love motivates our service for Him.

       ●  Jesus loves to examine our hearts, and then strengthen us to love us more.  He overcomes our failures by preparing us to serve Him and edify His flock. 

Application for Today

        Today I will hear Jesus asking me about my love for Him.  He wants to encourage me to love Him all the more, and not focus upon my past failures.  He wants me to move beyond my sinful denials of Him, and instead declare my love for Him with my words and deeds.  Can your hear Jesus talking with you about your love for Him today?


 Christ Assembly Basics 

Christ Assembly provides free access to various studies from the Bible, the Word of God. The studies in this website are not inspired, but God produced the Bible, consisting of sixty-nine books (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament). The Holy Spirit inspired authors to produce original autographs of the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Those original authors wrote over the course of many centuries. They wrote divinely inspired words and every word was divinely inspired. The authors communicated in their own styles, and with their own vocabulary, but God breathed out every word of the final autographs. The words in the Bible really matter, and deserve careful study. 
As we study, we seek to love Jesus more because His word has instructed us so that we learn His ways. Eternal life consists in knowing God the Father, and Jesus Christ Whom God sent. As the eternal God of Glory, One with His Father, the Son of God took flesh and dwelt among us. Because of His death, He used His blood to purchase our redemption. He was raised for our justification. We now live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself for us. By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit abides in every born-again believer and fills us with His presence and blessings. He leads us into all truth. Jesus is the truth, and the way, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Jesus, our Lord. 
We look forward to His imminent return to the clouds of earth, to snatch away the believers alive on earth, so that we may be forever with the Lord. When He returns to the clouds, He will bring with Him all those people in Christ who died before His return to the clouds. We encourage one another with the promises of God, Who makes our path grow brighter and brighter, until the full light of day shines forth. We love Jesus and look forward to seeing Him soon. After Jesus removes the believers from the earth, then a terrible period of seven years follows where God brings measured and precise judgments upon the people alive on earth. God cut those days of  Tribulation short, or no flesh would have been saved. Jesus will then return to earth, slay His enemies, and place His feet on the Mount of Olives where He ascended to heaven. He will then reign on earth for a thousand years, and believers will reign with Him. After the Millennial Reign of Christ, all unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment, and they will suffer according to their deeds done on earth. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire, a place of torment night and day for eternity, because they never received the free gift of salvation while alive on earth. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God. Today we invite you to come and see Jesus, and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart. Take His yoke upon you, for His burden is easy and His yoke is light. He will give you rest for your soul as you trust Him. We receive salvation only from Jesus, by faith alone in Jesus, Who gives us the free gift of eternal life. 
We accept the teaching of the Word of God. As born again believers, baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit, the anointing from God teaches us all things. We love to study the Word of God as we abide in Christ Jesus our Lord. God blesses all of us when we read His word, hear His word, and heed His word. We share original studies of the Word of God without cost and we do not receive donations. We support the finances of this ministry through private means, so that we are not a burden to anyone. We oppose charging people to read books, articles, journals or other studies of the Word of God. Such work should be supported by donations, but not in prescribed amounts and not as a requirement to gain access to what God has freely provided. What God has freely given, we should freely share. Just as Paul worked making tents, so we work to support this ministry. 

 Christ Assembly License

The author of all original material on this website retains all legal and equitable rights to the properties at issue. The author granted Christ Assembly a limited-use, revocable license to publish material on this website, while reserving all ownership rights to the original author. You may use any original material on this website to the glory of God, but you may not receive anything of value for such use. You may not receive any donations related to any original material on this website. All use of original material on this website is subject to the revocable, limited license above. You must conspicuously indicate on any use of the original material that it originated from ChristAssembly.org.  Any revocation of the license shall be posted on this website and all rights to use material may be revoked without prior notice. By copying and using any original material from this website, you consent to such license. Christ Assembly opposes any payment for access to studies, articles, journals, or other publications of studies concerning the Word of God. As God has freely given, so also the products of His grace should be freely shared.