TEEN TREE            OF LIFE

John’s Purpose in Writing His Account of Jesus’ Life

Part 3  –   February 21, 2021

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

Last week we ended with John’s account of Jesus and the Miracle of the Many Fish found in JOHN 21. The lessons contained in this story are part of what John wanted us to understand about the purpose of our lives in Christ. In this story, Our Lord shows up, in His Resurrected Body, to where a group of His disciples had decided to go fishing. Now, bear in mind that these men had just spent three years with The Son of God. They had witnessed many miracles and had been taught Bible doctrine directly from The Man about Whom John wrote: The Word became a human being(flesh). He made his home with us. (JOH 1:14) And what did they do within days of His Resurrection? They returned to their old way of life – fishing – which as you know, is what they were doing to earn a living when they first met Jesus Christ. Mind you, they walked away from their fishing businesses to follow Him!

 

Think about that for a bit. What would possess them to go back to fishing after all they had experienced and learned? Odd, right? Not really. Not if you look at their reaction as a very good example of how any one of us can quickly revert back to our old ways. In behaving this way – by making this choice – they put themselves completely out of God’s Plan for their lives. These disciples became lost without Our Lord’s Presence and seemingly forgot all that He had taught them.

 

As we saw last week, Jesus found the group of disciples unable to catch any fish and then guided them to bring in an enormous catch. He also cooked them breakfast over a fire on shore. This demonstrated an important fact: that Our Lord would always provide for His disciples. It also showed His Great Humility.

 

Think about Jesus’ reaction to finding His disciples fishing instead of sharing The Gospel and God’s Word. Did Our Lord scold them? Did He punish them? No. He showed them grace and unconditional love by performing a miracle which allowed them to catch an enormous number of fish AND He cooked them breakfast! How is that for an example of how to treat others who have done wrong???

 

As followers of Christ, we will also find ourselves out of His Plan for our lives, and He will always be there for us, too. This account of the Miracle of the Many Fish teaches us that we must trust Him to supply our needs. These men, led by Peter to go fishing instead of continuing to spread God’s Word, forgot that God promises to “meet all your needs. He will meet them in keeping with his wonderful riches. These riches come to you because you belong to Christ Jesus.” (PHI 4:19 New International Reader’s Version)

 

When breakfast was over, there was still the matter of restoring Peter to ministry and leadership. Now, Peter may have felt that his denial of The Lord Jesus Christ at His Trial might have disqualified him from doing anything more than being a fisherman anymore. Maybe that’s why he decided to go fishing. But God glorifies Himself by reconciliation and restoration. So, Our Savior begins by asking Peter a series of three questions: After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.” Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.” (JOH 21:15-19 The Message Bible)

 

In the original Greek, in which this scripture is written, there is a word play that doesn’t translate well into English. This is because two different Greek words in the text – phileo and agapa – are translated as the same English word – love. But each word is actually quite different.

 

Phileo is a personal type of love that a person has toward someone who is deserving of love and attention. It is the type of love that we have for others who we admire personally, because of something we see in them.

 

Agape love is impersonal, unconditional love. Agape love emphasizes the character of the subject (the one doing the loving) rather than the object (the one being loved). One of God’s most important commandments is to have impersonal, unconditional love for one another. We are reminded of this in 1 JOH 4:11: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

A great example of agape love is how God the Father treated mankind before our Salvation: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (JOH 3:16) As Christians, the purpose of our lives in Christ is to be like Him. So, we must remember to treat others with agape – especially those who hurt us or do wrong. We are commanded to have agape love for all people – just like Jesus Christ does. And the more you practice using it, the more it becomes a way of life.

 

Now, let us look at a clearer translation of JOH 21:15-19 (The Message Bible): After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you [agapa] have a committed, selfless, sacrificial love for me that is greater than these?” (The “these” refers to all the fishing stuff that was the focus of his life prior to following Jesus.) Peter answered, “Yes, Master; You know that I [phileo] have a deep personal affection for you as a close friend.” Jesus said to him,Feed my lambs.” He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you [agapa] have a committed, selfless, sacrificial love for me?” “Yes, Master, you know I [phileo] have a deep personal affection for you as a close friend.”.” Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.” Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you [phileo] have a deep personal affection for me as a close friend?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you [phileo] have a deep personal affection for me as a close friend?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know [by Your Omniscience]. You’ve got to know that I [phileo) have a deep personal affection for you as a close friend?”] Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

 

So, what was John’s purpose in sharing this dialogue? And more importantly, why did Our Lord Jesus Christ present these questions and responses to Peter? Well, Peter could not honestly claim to have agape – that deep, committed, selfless, sacrificial type of love about which Jesus was asking. His responses to Our Lord’s questions prove that.  Jesus surely had that kind of love for Peter, though. Yet all Peter could claim was phileo for Jesus – the deep personal affection of friendship.

 

Peter’s denial of Jesus, only a couple of weeks earlier, no doubt left him troubled and with a great deal of guilt. It also put him out of fellowship and deeply in need of being restored. This is probably why Peter reacted as he did to finding out the man on shore was Jesus Christ: Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. (JOH 21:7 The Message Bible) All over again, we see Peter abandoning his fishing to go to Jesus. And remember, it was a huge catch of fish!!! Despite all the wrong that Peter did, including denying knowing Him, Our Lord responded in Grace – first with a lesson about love and then with restoration by bringing Peter back to useful service.

{to be continued}

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