Morning Bible Study
Israel trip –
just two weeks left to get in your deposits.
We have looked at the
life, works, and death of Jesus Christ.
that when Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared many times to the disciples over
a period of 40 days before ascending into heaven.
He appeared to
them first in Jerusalem, and then even up north in Galilee.
John records one of these meetings in Galilee (Play “Jesus in Galilee” clip)
21:15-23 Jesus and
:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon,
son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You
know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
:15 do you love Me
– agapao – to love, love based
on making a choice to value a person, not based on the emotions but upon the
We often see this as the kind of love that God has for us, the kind of love
we ought to have for God, and the love we ought to have for one another.
:15 more than these
– pleion – greater in quantity; greater
What is Jesus asking Peter? What
does Peter love Jesus more than?
I think the best
idea is that Jesus is wondering if Peter thinks that Peter loves Jesus more
than the other disciples love Jesus.
The gospel of Mark is often seen as Peter’s gospel, Peter’s recollections
told to his nephew Mark. Mark tells us
how Peter responded when Jesus warned the disciples that they would all stumble
on the night He was arrested:
NKJV) —29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I
will not be.” 30 Jesus
said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night,
before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” 31 But he spoke more
vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said
Peter had made the point that he felt he was different
than the other disciples. The others
might deny Jesus, but Peter surely wouldn’t.
Yet Jesus had warned Peter that he would deny Jesus.
21, unlike the other disciples, Peter
didn’t wait for the boat to come ashore here at the beach. He had jumped in and swam to Jesus
:15 You know
– eido – to see; to know
Peter defers to the Lord. The Lord
knows. You will see that each time Jesus
asks Peter a question, Peter makes it clear that the Lord knows what the answer
Note that Peter does NOT repeat Jesus’
phrase “more than these”.
Peter has learned his lesson about bragging about his faithfulness to Jesus.
:15 I love you
– phileo – to love; to approve of; to
like; to treat affectionately, befriend
Peter uses a different word for “love” than the one that Jesus used.
Peter uses phileo - It comes from
philos, the word meaning “friend”, sometimes
even “best friend”. It is sometimes
translated “kiss”. It’s an emotional
On the other hand, the word Jesus used was agapao (the verb form of agape),
loved based on choice, not emotion.
Agapao is loving a person because you choose,
in your own will, to place value upon them.
Phileo is loving a person because you feel
affection towards them.
I think we have
to be careful that we don’t make phileo
out to be a bad kind of love.
For example, God
has phileo for us, because we have phileo for Jesus.
(Jn 16:27 NKJV)
for the Father Himself loves you,
because you have loved Me, and
have believed that I came forth from God.
We talk about agape being the
best kind of love, but sometimes the way we talk about it, it can kind of come
across as cold, lifeless, and uncaring.
We can say, “Well, I don’t really like you, but I do choose to value you
because I’m supposed to”.
Gentlemen, I think this is one of those things you don’t say to your wife.
In reality, in our humanness, we want to be warmly and affectionately loved!
Maybe Peter was saying something like this, “Yes Lord, I really love You,
maybe not yet with perfect agape
love, but I do have a great affection for You.”
– bosko – to tend a flock, graze
– arnion – a little lamb (diminutive
of arnos, lamb) (like new believers)
Many Christians seem to think He said,
“Be criticizing My little lambs.” But He has not given you that commission,
friend. He says feed them.
:16 He said to him
again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him,
“Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
:16 do you love Me
– agapao – the choice to value a
Note that Jesus doesn’t add the “more than these” line this time.
:15 You know
– eido – to see; to know
Again Peter defers to the Lord. The
:16 I love you
– phileo – the affectionate kind of love
Peter sticks to the same words he used before.
– poimaino – to feed, to tend a flock,
to be a shepherd
This is a broader word. It not only
includes the feeding of the flock, but the protection, guidance, and discipline
of the flock as well.
– probaton – a sheep, grown sheep
:17 He said to him
the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved
because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him,
“Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed
:17 do you love Me
– phileo – the affectionate kind of
For the third question, Jesus switches to use the word that Peter has been
:17 was grieved
– lupeo – to make sorrowful; to
affect with sadness
Why was Peter
There is an
issue with the words that Jesus uses.
You see a definite progression in the questions that Jesus asks Peter. It’s almost as if with each question Jesus is
asking less and less of Peter.
1. Do you have agape for me more than these other disciples?
2. Do you have agape for me?
3. Do you have phileo for me?
There is an
issue with the fact that Jesus asks three
times about his love for Jesus.
It’s not hard
to make a connection between Jesus asking Peter three times about his love for
Him, and the event that happened while Jesus was on trial:
(Lk 22:56–62 NKJV) —56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire,
looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him,
saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also
are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another
confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is
a Galilean.” 60 But Peter
said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still
speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter
remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster
crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and
would imagine that Peter was never more discouraged about his own
personal weakness and failure than that moment.
Three times Peter had denied Jesus. And now Jesus questions
Peter three times about his love for Him.
:17 You know
(all things) – eido – to see; to
Again Peter defers to the Lord. The
:17 You know that
– ginosko – knowledge grounded on
Jesus’ knowledge of Peter’s love isn’t just based on mental perception, but
on personal experience. “You
know I love you”
:17 I love you
– phileo – the affectionate kind of
Peter doesn’t change words but stays with the same word.
:17 the third time
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say “Strike Three, You’re OUT!!”
rebuke Peter for having a “lesser love”.
Instead, Jesus reminds Peter of his calling.
You may have
felt like you have totally blown your witness as a Christian.
If you’re still alive, then God isn't finished with you yet, He wants you
You may not be able to go back to the exact same ministry you had before,
but you can still serve the Lord.
Jesus will come back to you over and over again, getting you to search your
heart and see that you indeed do love Him, and that He loves you.
Too often the
church is seen as an army that shoots its own wounded.
When we hear of a Christian who has sinned or blown their witness, we are among the first to
kick them to the curb.
God’s heart is that we learn to restore others. Paul wrote,
(Ga 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are
spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself
lest you also be tempted.
:17 Do you love Me?
Motivation for serving
Jesus doesn’t ask Peter, “Do you believe in me?” He asks him if he loves Him.
This whole passage is about Jesus putting Peter back into ministry.
It’s all built around the question of Peter’s love for Jesus.
And even though Peter’s love for Jesus isn’t perhaps what
we think it ought to be (agape
instead of phileo), it’s still a love
Jesus doesn’t rebuke Peter for just confessing to phileo, but He tells Peter the same
thing – to feed the sheep.
The people to whom that Jesus says, “Feed My sheep”, are people who are in
love with Jesus.
writes, “The most important thing the
pastor can do is to love Jesus Christ. If he truly loves Jesus Christ, the
pastor will also love His sheep and tenderly care for them.”
(1 Co 13:1–3 NKJV)
—1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I
have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so
that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all
my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not
love, it profits me nothing.
If you are in a ministry, and don't have a sincere love
for the Lord, you are wasting your time.
It’s time to reevaluate your priorities.
It’s time to get back to loving the Lord.
:17 Feed My sheep
One of the main
ways that God’s people are “fed” is through the teaching of God’s Word.
(Ps 119:103 NKJV) How
sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
What’s interesting is the example Jesus has already laid out for them at
breakfast this morning.
had been out fishing all night when Jesus called to them from the beach.
He had asked them:
(Jn 21:5 NKJV) “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”
When they had replied “no”, He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat,
and they had a huge
When they got
to shore dragging their net full of fish, Jesus had already prepared breakfast
for them with His own fish and bread, but Jesus’ fish and bread wasn’t all they
ate that morning.
(Jn 21:10 NKJV) Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just
They added some of the fish they had just caught to the
meal that Jesus had already prepared for them.
Sometimes as you prepare, you toil all night and you’ve caught nothing.
And then Jesus
nudges you to “cast the net on the other side” – when some word or thought
catches your attention and suddenly your net is full of fish.
Spurgeon used to tell his preaching students that preparing a sermon was like
taking clods of dirt and breaking them open one by one until you find a treasure inside one of the
And even after
the disciples have this huge net full of fish, they find that Jesus has already prepared a meal
There are going to be times when God speaks to your flock
in ways you didn’t intend. For me –
sometimes it’s in the Scripture reading of the day, sometimes Jesus speaks to
people from the passage and it’s not even something I said, but something they
got from God.
full breakfast is made up of the fish you caught at Jesus’ direction, as
well as the things
that Jesus brings to the meal by Himself.
God wants to feed His flock. As
teachers, it’s important that we have ears to hear, that we do our homework,
and that we step back and allow Him to work.
:18 Most assuredly,
I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you
wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will
gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
:18 girded … will
gird – zonnumi – to gird; to
gird one’s self
refer to putting on your clothes.
A form of this word was used to describe Peter putting on his outer garment
before jumping off the boat and swimming to shore (John 21:7).
It can refer to
someone tying up your hands as a prisoner.
tells us that sometime during Nero’s reign as emperor of Rome, Peter had been
visiting in Rome when he heard that there was a warrant out for his
arrest. The believers in the church
persuaded Peter to leave the city and flee.
has it that Peter met Jesus outside the city, and Jesus was going back into the
city carrying the cross. Peter asked him
“Quo Vadis”, which
is Latin for “Where are you going?”
Jesus told Peter that He was going into the city to be crucified
again. Peter turned around and went back
to the city where he was arrested and condemned to death. When he was about to be crucified, Peter did not feel himself
worthy of being crucified in the same way that his Master was, and was asked to
be crucified upside down.
:19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when
He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
:19 by what death he would glorify God
I often just look at these verses as a warning to Peter about what was up
But keep in mind that Jesus has just “restored” Peter by having Peter
openly confess his love for Jesus to offset the denials he had done earlier.
Peter had denied the Lord when confronted by a little slave girl.
In the future, Peter would one day suffer actual death for the name of
In a way, Jesus is following up with His questioning Peter’s love by
letting Peter know that one day Peter will indeed lay down his life for Jesus.
:20 Then Peter,
turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned
on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
:21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
:20 the disciple
whom Jesus loved – this is how John refers to himself.
:22 Jesus said
to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow
:23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would
not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will
that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
:23 this disciple
would not die – apparently this saying of Jesus got a rumor started that Jesus had
promised that John wouldn’t die, but would perhaps be alive when Jesus
Keep in mind
that John is writing the gospel around 90 A.D., and all the other disciples had
died horrible deaths
:24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these
things; and we know that his testimony is true.
:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were
written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the
books that would be written. Amen.
:25 many other
John is reminding his readers that the reality is that all the gospel
writers put together only recorded a small snippet of the total ministry of
Jesus over a period of 3 ½ years.
:22 what is that to
you? You follow Me
We like to compare ourselves with each other.
Sometimes we tend to find reasons to think that our lot in life isn’t fair.
have grown up in a pretty screwy family.
have been through a divorce.
have been through great physical difficulty.
Sometimes we wish we had answers to our questions.
We want to know
“why” things have happened to us.
God may not answer all our questions in this life.
He still calls us to follow Him.
We get into so much trouble when we focus too much on what other people are
Willie Mays was
one of the greatest athletes baseball has ever produced. But he wasn’t always like that. He idolized Joe DiMaggio. He watched how DiMaggio stood, how he
walked, how he swung
the bat, how he ran; he tried his best to be another DiMaggio. Finally, some wise coach said to him,
“Willie, you have great ability. Don’t
be like anybody else. Be yourself.” And he became Willie
Mays. (Play “Willie Mays” clip)
If you were to
name the greatest baseball players in the history of baseball, no list would be
complete without the name of this man who became himself.
A lot of us pastors
look up to Pastor Chuck, and want to do everything like Chuck does.
That’s not all that bad, but there comes a time when you have to take your
eyes off of the other guy, and follow Jesus.
You can’t go through life trying to be a 10th rate Chuck Smith.
You have to be a 1st rate you.
There is only one
person we should work at keeping our eyes on.
It’s the same one that we are following.
NKJV) —1 Therefore we also,
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with
endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus,
the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God.
Look to Jesus.