Sermon Outline On John 21:1-19
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
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. 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.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
In the cartoon PONTIUS PUDDLE, King Pontius Puddle says, “Sometimes I’d like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could do something about it!”
His trusty sidekick asks, “What’s stopping you?”
King Pontius Puddle replies, “I’m afraid he might ask me the same question! ”
Jesus does get to some penetrating questions. John tells us that Jesus comes to the disciples as they finish a night of unfruitful fishing. Jesus tells them to cast their net one more time. Throw it over the starboard side (that is the right side for you land lovers). They think what the heck. One more time can’t hurt, so they do what the stranger told them. Remember they do not recognize Jesus. Sure enough they catch 153 big fish. Their net is totally full.
As they come to shore, there is Jesus waiting for them. The fire is ready. They bring the fish, and they have breakfast with the risen Christ. They now know the stranger as their risen Lord. The disciples eat with Jesus. This would set the stage for the early church as they came together eating fish and bread together. The fish and the bread would quickly become more than just a staple in their diet. They would become significant symbols. To eat together would become a way to confirm and encourage one another in the faith. Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth revealed that eating together was an important part of their worship.
Fred Craddock suggest to us that if the meal with Christ reflects early Christian worship, then worship was also a time of being confronted with Christ’s penetrating question. Jesus turned to Peter to ask the question that Jesus asks of you and me today. Jesus asked, ‘Do you love me?’ Do you love me?
We often look at this exchange that takes place between Jesus and Peter, focusing on the three exchanges that take place. Jesus asks Peter three times and Peter responds three times. There is another division that takes place here. In each of the three times, Jesus asks the question, ‘Do you love me?’ After the assurance from Peter, Jesus then issues a command. Jesus calls Peter to a task. Jesus commissions Peter for a responsibility. Jesus tells Peter to ‘feed my sheep.’ Yes there are slight variations with each command, but essentially Jesus is telling Peter to take care of ‘my sheep.’
This exchange reflects the theology of the author. The theology of this gospel includes the idea that faith includes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You cannot have faith without a personal relationship. But the gospel goes farther. The personal relationship also calls for obedience on the part of Jesus’ followers. One aspect of this obedience is caring for others. We have this relationship of love because Jesus first loved us. We are obedient because Jesus first loved us. We care for others because Jesus first loved us. We are in a personal relationship with Jesus, obediently caring for others, as a way of showing our love for Jesus.
‘Feed my sheep.’ All three times Jesus uses the word ‘my.’ Who are ‘my sheep,’ ‘my lambs?’ Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.’
We are called by Jesus to care for the ‘ones for whom Christ died.’ The sheep that Jesus is talking about are the ‘ones for whom Christ died.’ Each of you are ‘one for whom Christ died.’ Those in the church down the street are ones for whom Christ died. Those at home this morning, sleeping in, are ones for whom Christ died. The golfers and fishermen this morning are ones for whom Christ died. Those who partied until the wee hours and never gave God a second thought this morning are ‘ones for whom Christ died.’ Those who try to take advantage of help that is offered are ones for whom Christ died. We are called to make a difference.
Jesus throughout scripture uses physical ideas to communicate spiritual truth. When Jesus says, ‘Feed my sheep,’ Jesus is talking about meeting the spiritual needs of those for whom HE died. Are we as individuals meeting the spiritual needs of the spiritually needy? Are we as the church addressing the spiritual needs of the spiritually needy?
How do we meet these spiritual needs? First of all for us to help others with spiritual needs they must hear us. More times than not they will not hear us until they trust us. We first must earn their trust.
Greg Bullock shared this personal story about reaching the needy. He wrote:
I was sitting in front of Radio City Music Hall on the wall of the fountain in midtown Manhattan one day on my lunch break, when I decided to buy a hot dog from a nearby vendor. As usual, the sidewalks were crowded as the mass of people hurried along their way. As I waited my turn in line, I could not help but notice a well-groomed man of average dress looking to be in his mid-30’s. The man was leaning against a nearby wall and appeared to be waiting for someone. As I paid for my meal, he turned, straightened himself and started walking my way. When I took the hot dog and began to step away, the man suddenly sprang forward and grabbed my food. Immediately we began to tussle. As he tried to wrench the food from my hand, he began to scream, ‘Feed me, feed me’ over and over again. I finally gained control of the situation and, pulling away, said without thinking, ‘Get your own food.’
Behind me I hear the vendor say, ‘Leave my customer alone, I’ll feed you.’ ‘No,’ he cried, ‘I want him to feed me.’ Quickly looking back to see why it had to be me, I found the man had disappeared into the crowd.
Suddenly I felt sick at heart. I had never been more disappointed in myself. In my pockets was more than enough money to feed 20 people hot dogs and all he wanted was just one. Acting on a natural human instinct, I hadn’t wanted anyone taking something that was mine. As I walked away, I immediately remembered the Scripture in Hebrews 13:2 ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. ‘
As I returned to my seat at the fountain wall my friend asked, ‘What was that all about?’ ‘I don’t know,’ I replied, ‘I’m really not sure.’ I have relived that scene over and over in my mind many times, and still it haunts me.
It is not always easy to offer a glass of water in the name of Jesus (or a hot dog). For some of us it is easier to offer the spiritual rather than the physical. When Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep,’ I think he wanted us to do both. He called us to do both.
When Albert Schweitzer would walk up to a patient’s bed in his mission hospital, he would take the patient by the hand and say, “I am Albert Schweitzer. Jesus Christ sent me to help you get well.”
‘That’s often the way it is with Jesus. He doesn’t just reveal himself to us; he also calls, commissions, sends us. The story that begins with ‘˜Jesus showed himself,’ ends with Jesus saying, ‘˜Follow me.”