Easter 3 – May 5th
John 21: 1-19
Vicar Shaun Manning
21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the
Sea of Tibe′ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way. 3 Simon Peter
said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go
with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.
As I mentioned the other week, when we read the Gospel narratives it is always important to know who Jesus is speaking to, so we can better understand what He is saying.
Jesus doesn’t speak to all people the same way.
He doesn’t speak to the crowds the same way He speaks to His disciples, neither does He speak to His disciples the same way He speaks to certain individuals.
And I don’t believe this is by mere coincidence.
The Great Commission to baptise and teach, is not given to the crowds but to His chosen eleven. Likewise with the keys of the kingdom, that is the authority to forgive sins, He doesn’t give this authority to His followers in the crowd but to His close disciples and also here, He commissions Peter to tend and feed His sheep, not just any random person He interacted with. And He does so by premising that “if you love me”… then tend, feed and look after My flock. This could mean that loving Him cannot be separated from the calling He is giving them.
Does this mean that the crowds and Jesus’ followers have no role in tending and feeding the sheep, since they are just a part of the flock? Of course not.
I remember a few years before my Nan died, she had a health scare in which she thought she would probably die. She spent moments with us a group, as a family and then she asked to speak to a few of us on our own and I was one of them.
Me being around 16 at the time, Nan had witnessed me date or at least speak about a handful of girls that I was interested in, you know high school relationships some last like weeks or even days sometimes. So Nan, having a few moments alone with me, reassured me of her love for me etc. but then hit me with me “I want you to settle down and be with just one girl… please”.
This was her dying and departing wish.
And this is Jesus’ departing wish, to tend and feed His flock.
Her saying this to me didn’t mean that it doesn’t extrapolate out to the other members of my family but this was specifically intended for me, first and foremost.
Likewise with Scripture as a whole but especially when Jesus speaks. We have to know who He is speaking to, to find out what He is actually saying.
He tells one man to sell all He has and give to the poor… how many of us take that literally for us and our context. The church, other than certain monks throughout history, have taken this to be applicable to them.
This is not the blueprint for Christian giving but was specific to that man and His idolatry.
So today, I believe that Jesus is speaking to His disciples which He was going to put in charge to oversee the tending and feeding of the flock, in His stead. But of course, like with my family, the principle being conveyed is not irrelevant to the rest of the flock. My Nan also wouldn’t want her other children and grandchildren living frivolously.
Our text today is all about Revelation.
And what is that the Lord Jesus is revealing about Himself this time?
Well primarily that He is Risen.
- He is their intimate authority. (4-8)… He is their Good Shepherd (15-17)
- And so calls Peter and the others to do the same (18-19).
Nothing on their own… (literally and symbolically), they need the Lord.
It calls to mind the vine and the branches, for without Him, Jesus, we can do nothing.
Why do they and we need the Lord?
Because the answer to that question is the same answer of why you have Him.
Someone has preached Him to you. Someone has administered Him to you by baptising you, by giving you Holy Communion.
Someone has taught you His Word and witnessed Him to you, encouraged you or even dragged you along to the places where His people gather.
My point is that we have Him because He gave Himself up for you and to you. He did through His life, death and Resurrection, of course. But then He gave Himself to you through His Church and through His shepherds.
His shepherds have been called to bring, not themselves and their teaching but Christ, the true and Good Shepherd, and His teaching.
And so the reason why any of us have Him is because we were given Him, through His shepherds and through His Church.
Here, the Risen Lord Jesus calls the initial ones to tend and care for His sheep in His stead, so that even we 2000 years after the Resurrection and thousands of miles away from the Sea they gathered, can partake in Him and all that He has won.
The day was breaking when the Risen Lord appeared to His disciples on Easter Sunday, now also the day is breaking as He reveals Himself by sea here.
He calls out to them as His ‘children’? A word which calls to mind a ‘calf’, or a young lamb of His. For He is their intimate authority, their Good Shepherd.
Typical Jesus, asking questions He already knows the answer to. “Children, have you any fish?”
Annoying as it is… He is again, calling to reflection of their state and need for Him, then providing for and comforting them.
Similar to that in St Luke’s Gospel… where Jesus tells them to cast their nets again… “we have toiled all night but at your word, I will let down the nets”… a miraculous catch happens and Peter says “depart from me, I am a sinful man”.
Now at the end of His ministry He is calling them to cast their nets again, a reminder for they will be catching people in His people in His departure. They will do so by tending and feeding the sheep, His sheep.
Beloved Disciple and Peter are the ones to respond, as in the Resurrection account.
Peter jumps into the sea, just like he jumped into the tomb to find it empty.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore… 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
He feed the crowds, now it’s time to have breakfast with the disciples before His ascension for they are to continue this mission. This mission of tending and feeding the Lord’s sheep, standing in the place of the Good Shepherd.
Does it get more human than “come and have brekky”?… “It is the Lord” do we understand how profound this is? This is God, the creator of the universe, taken on human flesh sitting on the beach with a fire, waiting for and then calling His disciples to come have brekky with Him.
This is who your God is! This is the God we have… it is so different to the God people think we have. Ones that don’t know Him, ones that He hasn’t revealed Himself to. Even One that we don’t expect.
This calls to mind that which so outraged the Pharisees: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” Yes—he does! It’s true! These disciples are not especially worthy of Jesus’ presence, fellowship and favour. They haven’t done anything to deserve it. They haven’t lived perfectly holy lives. They don’t have exceptional faith. Remember they rebuked Jesus for welcoming little children. Now they are called children by Jesus.
They sought to correct what Jesus meant when he had spoken of his coming death, trusting in their own wisdom instead of his words—“surely Lord, this will never happen to you!” They selfishly squabbled about who should be considered the greatest. They couldn’t stay awake and keep watch and pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. They’re actually just like us. And Peter even denied who Jesus was, not just once, but three times.
Peter is about to reinstated by the reversal of his three-fold denial. Again it is by a charcoal fire, as it was that night of Jesus’ arrest.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, 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.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
From the seven disciples present this day, He pulls Peter aside and speaks with him. Perhaps re-emphasising Peter’s leadership as well as to reinstate and reverse his denial.
Compare this integration to Confession/Absolution questions.
” … do you love me?”
“Feed my lambs”
“Tend my sheep”
“Feed my sheep”
Peter is not the Shepherd but has been called to stand in His place, to tend and feed the true Shepherd’s sheep. How so? What does feeding and tending look like? (1 Peter 2:18-25).
Pastors & Priests for centuries have been called to stand in the Shepherd’s place to be a shepherd to God’s people by feeding and tending them. It might seem like they are drumming on about the same things all the time, but that is what they are called to. Because we are all like sheep who have gone astray and keep going astray. Hence we have to be constantly called by the Good Shepherd, by His Gospel, through the shepherds He has appointed and called to do so.
This is a life and calling that is intended to a laying down of their lives for the sake of the sheep. (v18-19) He lets Peter know of the type of death he was going to experience as a result of this calling.
19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Just before today’s text Jesus had said to His apostles: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23). At the end of Matthew’s Gospel He had told them to make disciples of all nations by baptising and teaching everything He had commanded them. What Jesus is speaking of in today’s text is not a literal feeding of the poor. He is speaking to Peter, an apostle to whom He had commissioned and given the authority to publicly forgive and retain sins in His stead.
The Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is so concerned about you that after laying down His own life for you He appeared to his apostles and charged them to feed His sheep with His teaching, which is really just Him. He and His word cannot be separated, He and His gifts cannot be separated.
This has been handed on to you―through which the Lord Jesus himself declares to you that your sins are forgiven and that you are His lamb which He has bought with His shed blood.
Our text from the book of Revelation said that:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12), who by His cross has conquered sin and death. With His blood, He has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
This same Lord Jesus visits people of all nations and calls them to Himself by the Gospel, even as He “was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:14).
And so this started here in the Holy Land, and now has made its way to the Barossa. And this is not by any accident. It has been the result of hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries of tending the flock and feeding the sheep.
Shepherds of His Word and Sacraments have been supported by the sheep to enable them to preach, teach and administer. But this does not mean that the those of us who don’t have leadership in the church have no place for God’s mission, of course not.
We all have our role in Shepherd’s work. Pastors, shepherds of the flock, can’t be at all of our work places, family’s houses, friends birthdays and the like to try and exemplify the faith to them all. But he is called to tend and feed you as part of his flock. He is called to love the Lord by loving and caring for you. He is called to equip you as sheep so that other sheep may see you and your relationship with the Shepherd and their need for Him too.
So I encourage this day to think about those who have left the sheep-fold. Those who have taken for granted their status as a sheep of the Shepherd. Those who have forgotten their Shepherd and traded Him in for something else.
So we come to be fed and tended to, so we can witness to why we need to be and why they, whoever they may be, need to be also constantly feed and tended to by the Lord also.
The more you realize who you are the Lord’s sheep and who He is as your Shepherd, the more you know what a sheep of the Shepherd look, smell and talk like.
Just like sheep, we cannot grow old of being tended to and feed.
Be tended to and fed this day.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Amen