Net Questions

1. Peter and some of the other disciples where not sure what to do after the crucifixion of Jesus. Even though they had seen Him alive, the were a bit discouraged, and decided to return to their old profession of fishing. Has there ever been a time in your life where you questioned your decision to follow Jesus? How did you deal with the dilemma?

2. Jesus didn't fuss at the disciples for going fishing! However, He did remind them that He had called them to the new vocation of fishing for the souls of men. Is fishing for the souls of men and women just for full time ministers? Why or why not?
Ephesians 4:11 (NIV)It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12 (NIV)to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

3. Peter's past mistakes were used as a teaching tool by Jesus, not only for Peter, but for the other six disciples with him on that day. Peter was given a chance to reaffirm his commitment to Christ by answering the question of his love for Jesus three times, the same number of his denials. His answer was yes each time, but Jesus told him to do more than just say "I love you." Discuss what Jesus asked Peter to do.
John 21:15  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."
John 21:16  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."
John 21:17  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.

4. What are some ways you could help care for those God cares about? Here's a list that might help…
Rom 12:10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Rom 12:11  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Rom 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Rom 12:13  Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Rom 12:14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rom 12:15  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Rom 12:16  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Rom 12:17  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
Rom 12:18  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Sermon Notes

Engage in Caring
John 21:15-19

Last week we talked about engaging in serving! Our text was written by the Apostle Peter. Today we are going to look back at an experience Peter had as a follower of Christ.
It was a time for Peter when I believe he was questioning his decision to follow Christ.

It was just after Jesus' death. Had his trust in Jesus been misplaced?
Had the time he spent following Christ been wasted? What were he and the other disciples going to do now?  

Jesus had already appeared to the disciples twice. They knew He had risen. However, things were not the same. Even though Jesus had not yet ascended back to heaven He wasn't physically with them like before.

Jesus had evidently even appeared to Simon Peter personally. We know nothing of this meeting except the fact Cleopas and a friend, who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, made this statement to the disciples...

"It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Luke 24:34

Evidently these appearances had not been enough to totally convince the disciples they had made the right decision to follow Christ.
They wondered if the answer was to go back to their old way of life.

This has huge implications for you and me.

I don't know of a single Christian who hasn't at some point wondered about their decision to leave their old life and follow Christ or even thought back on that old life with somewhat of a romanticized view.

Especially when Satan brings on the attacks and we realize it's not always easy to follow Jesus! How quickly we forget the emptiness, sadness, lack of direction, lack of purpose, and the destructiveness of that old way of life.

What in the world does all this have to do with Engaging in Caring?

Let's pray and I'll show you...

Take your Bibles and turn with me to John Chapter 21. The 14 verses before our main text for today tell a fascinating story we don't want to miss...

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way:
John 21:1 (NIV)

Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.
John 21:2 (NIV)

“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.
John 21:3 (NIV)

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
John 21:4 (NIV)

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
John 21:5 (NIV)

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.
John 21:6 (NIV)

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.
John 21:7 (NIV)

The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.
John 21:8 (NIV)

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
John 21:9 (NIV)

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
John 21:10 (NIV)

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.
John 21:11 (NIV)

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
John 21:12 (NIV)

Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
John 21:13 (NIV)

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
John 21:14 (NIV)

There is so much in this story. Every detail of what was happening here was designed by God to teach these men a spiritual lesson. More than one, and these lessons were leading up to the big lesson Jesus was about to tell them around breakfast.

Let's look at these background lessons first.

Peter is frustrated and decides he's going back to fishing.
Was Peter a leader?
Indeed. The other six disciples with him immediately decide to follow him, and this leads to lesson #1...

Background Lesson # 1

If you do things your own way with your own strength you will come up empty!

They caught nothing. They were going back to doing things on their own strength in their own way!
They came up empty handed.

Is there a lesson for the disciples in this?
Is there a lesson for you and me in this?

A dismal night. The fact they caught nothing should have immediately reminded them of another time they had been fishing. Let's see...

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God,
Luke 5:1 (NIV)

he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.
Luke 5:2 (NIV)

He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Luke 5:3 (NIV)

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Luke 5:4 (NIV)

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:5 (NIV)

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
Luke 5:6 (NIV)

So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
Luke 5:7 (NIV)

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Luke 5:8 (NIV)

For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,
Luke 5:9 (NIV)

and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”
Luke 5:10 (NIV)

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:11 (NIV)

That happened back when they first met Jesus! Wow! Can you imagine what must have been going through the Disciple's minds when they realize whoa, wait a minute, da ja vue. This has happened before.
Jesus was reminding them they had been called by God to change vocations.

Background Lesson # 2

Your greatest vocation in life is to be fishers of men!

This didn't mean they would never fish again. It meant fishing for the souls of men was to become their primary goal in life!

Surely the words that Jesus had spoken to them back when they first left fishing to follow him were once again ringing in their ears.

This doesn't mean everyone is to quite their job and become a preacher. No, but your greatest vocation in life is to care for the souls of others regardless of what your job is!

But there was yet another background lesson for the disciples in this story, before we get to the big one...

Background Lesson # 3

God will provide everything you need to follow Him!

Have you ever noticed Jesus already had fish on the fire and bread waiting to be broken. Look at verse 9...

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
John 21:9 (NIV)

How cool is that. Jesus had already caught fish. He didn't need the fish they caught, but He invited them to bring some of their catch to the table.

Jesus was reminding them to remember what He had taught them concerning God's provision.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

He wasn't saying we don't work or live responsibly, but we are not to worry. If we are seeking to do His will He will provide for us to engage in the work He's called us to do!

So now we come to the main lesson, the big one for Peter and the rest of the disciples there with him that day. It's a lesson for you and me as well!

It was a tough lesson for Peter, because Jesus used Peter as an example.

It's kind of tough when your mistakes are used to teach others, however, if you are engaged in following, leading, and serving, you won't really mind. Why? Because you will have learned the big lesson of the day...

The Big Lesson

Engage in Caring!

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.”
John 21:15 (NIV)

Why did Jesus ask Peter if he really loved Him more than these? Remember the Last Supper, just before Jesus died.
After they finished eating, this conversation took place...

Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
Mark 14:29 (NIV)

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
Mark 14:30 (NIV)

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Mark 14:31 (NIV)

Boy this had to hurt, but Jesus is not being mean. He is giving Peter a chance to publicly say I'm sorry. He's giving Peter a chance to once again assume his leadership position in front of these other disciples. He's reminding Peter of his new vocation. A fisher of men. Peter was to care for God's people by feeding them spiritually.
"Feed My lambs."

Peter, by the way, responds in a very humble way. "Yes, Lord, you know I love you."

Peter didn't mention anyone else. He didn't compare himself with anyone else. He just said, "You know I love you."

Jesus would ask us today if we love Him. If our answer is yes, He bids us, "Feed my lambs!"

In other words, we must care for those Jesus cares about.
In the words of a song by Casting Crowns, "Break my heart by what breaks Yours!"

I have a friend in Nashville, Tennessee who wrote a song entitled "Do You Really Care?"

I have to ask myself that question many times.

A.B. Bruce put it this way in his book,
"The Training of the Twelve"

"The yoke of love which binds us to our fellows is sometimes not easy, and the burden of caring for them not light; but, on the whole, it is better and nobler to be a drudge and a slave at the bidding of love, than to be a free man through the emancipating power of selfishness."
pg. 522

He goes on to say...

"A life on the ocean wave, a life in the woods, a life in the mountains or in the clouds, may be fine to dream and sing of; but the only life out of which genuine heroism and poetry comes, is that which is spent on the this solid prosaic earth in the lowly work of doing good."
pg 523

Jesus continues...

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.”
John 21:16 (NIV)

Peter is probably thinking about the personal meeting he had already had with Jesus. He had probably already told Jesus he was so sorry. Why was Jesus bringing this up again?

Jesus knew this was hard on Peter, but those six other disciples are there and they needed to see the importance Jesus put on engaging in caring. He wanted Peter and them to know that a true follower of Jesus, who claimed to love Him, would show that love by caring deeply for others.

It's one thing to say you love Jesus, it is another thing to show you love Jesus!

Remember Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God, but the second was to love others.

Jesus' words to Peter indicate the best way to show our love for God is by literally engaging in caring! Doing something for others.

In fact, one of the most beautiful examples of caring for others was given by Jesus to the disciples back when they first left their fishing nets to follow Jesus. The story I read to you about the first time they had caught nothing and Jesus told them to cast out in the deep is followed immediately by this story...

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Luke 5:12 (NIV)

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:13 (NIV)

Did you notice that Jesus touched the man. The emotional healing that touch brought to him was as powerful as the physical healing Jesus' words brought to him.

Peter and the other guys, had witnessed Jesus' love for the unlovable many times. Jesus considered these people like sheep without a shepherd and He wanted His disciples to care for the sheep as He had cared for the sheep.

Please hear this...

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 (NIV)

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Matthew 9:37 (NIV)

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:38 (NIV)

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matthew 10:1 (NIV)

When Jesus told Peter to engage in caring, He was reminding him and the others that He had already given them the authority to care for the sheep.

This was so important to Jesus that He says it a third time to Peter...

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.
John 21:17 (NIV)

Peter feels this third one deeply. He is hurt. Jesus' purpose was not to hurt him, but to encourage and inspire Peter to take all that spontaneous energy he was always so quick to use and use it to shepherd God's people.
Remember, Peter had jumped out of the boat when Jesus was walking on the water, and again, in our story today, when he realized it was Jesus on the shore!

Jesus wants Peter to engage in caring with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did every thing else in life.

In fact, Peter would have unique qualifications to care for others because of his experiences.

If you would allow me one more time to quote from A.B. Bruce's "Training of the Twelve"
written back in the 1800's...

"Observe particularly the feeling produced by this delicate reference to his former sins. It was grief, not irritation, anger, or shame. There is no pride, passion, vanity in this man's soul...

but only holy, meek contrition; no sudden coloring is observable in his countenance, but only the gracious softened expression of a penitent, chastised spirit. The man who can so take allusions to his sins is not only fit to tend the sheep, but even to nurse the lambs...

He will restore those who have fallen in a spirit of meekness. He will be tender towards offenders, not with the spurious charity which cannot afford to condemn sin strongly, but with the genuine charity of one who has himself received mercy for sins sincerely repented of.

By his (kind and benevolent) sympathy sinners will be converted unto God in unfeigned sorrow for their offenses, and in humble hope of pardon' and by his watchful care many sheep will be kept from ever straying from the fold."
pg. 523-524

Okay, Pastor Larry. You've talked about engaging in following, leading, serving and now caring. I can see it for Peter and the disciples. That was their thing. Bottom line, why should I do all this.

I have enough to worry about already. I really don't have time for this. Besides, I thought that's what we pay you and the staff to do! Ministry. After all, that's what you are, right, a minister.

Yes! And a part of my job is to feed the sheep. And what am I supposed to feed you?
The Word of God!
And what does the Word of God say about Engaging in following, leading, serving and caring? It says we're all supposed to do this.
In fact listen to my Biblical job description...  

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:11 (NIV)

to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Ephesians 4:12 (NIV)

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)

So I guess if we've got a complaint to file, it needs to be done with the Big Boss!!

I'm just following instructions!

And speaking of following instructions...
Jesus had a couple of other things to say to Peter in our text...

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.”
John 21:18 (NIV)

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21:19 (NIV)

Peter had originally denied Jesus to avoid the possibility of being crucified with Jesus. Now Jesus tells him that some day he would die a martyrs death and even indicated the kind of death. Jesus followed this dire prediction with an instruction..."Follow me!"

Peter knew the pain Jesus had caused him by bringing up his denial was nothing compared to the hurt Peter had caused Jesus by the actual denial. Peter decided to engage in caring for others no matter what the cost! He decided to feed the sheep! And feed and care for them he did.