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Feeding The Sheep, Following The Shepherd

Sermon passage: (John 21:15-25) Spoken on: April 8, 2018
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Keng Wan Ling
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: John

Tags: John 约翰福音

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About Keng Wan Ling: Deacon Keng was theologically trained in TTC, and currently serves as the worship ministry chairperson.

Title: Feeding The Sheep, Following The Shepherd
Date: 08 Apr 2018
Preacher: Dn Keng Wan Ling

You think YOU had a rough week? Put yourself in the shoes of Simon Peter. His head is spinning from all that’s happened just in the past week.
Everything has been COMPLETELY NOT what he expected. He’d been so sure that Jesus would finally show the Romans who He is, and take his rightful place. Instead, Jesus gets captured, tried, crucified, and… raised from the dead.
Simon Peter must be so happy now to be sitting next to the resurrected Jesus by the Sea of Tiberias.. Jesus had just repeated the miracle with a large catch of fish- just like old times!
He hopes Jesus doesn’t hold grudges. His face flames to think about how he had said he would never deny Jesus, even if everyone else did, but then prompted denied Jesus in public (face palm!!! Ohhh, the shaaaammmeee  )- not once, not twice., but three times.
Brothers and sister, make no mistake, Simon Peter is quite a character. In the 3 years since he left his successful fishing business and followed Jesus, he’d become the natural spokesperson of the little rag-tag group. Peter was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, along with James and John. Only those three were present when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37) and when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:1). Peter and John were given the special task of preparing the final Passover meal (Luke 22:8).
Like any colourful personality, there are STORIES about him. Simon knows that people gossiped, they whispered behind his back, or just openly asked. Questions and comments like:
•Simon, is it true that you walked on water? What happened, why did you sink halfway? (Matthew 14:28-29)
•Simon, wasn’t there once, your Jesus called you Satan? How odd… yes, he did. Someone heard Him say, “Get behind me Satan…”. What was that about? (Matthew 14:28-29)
•Simon, i heard you actually heard the voice and saw the glory of God! Something about Moses and Elijah? (Matthew 17:4)
And more recently…
•I want to hear from the horse’s mouth! The night Jesus was arrested. You did the right thing to defend him! And cutting off that guy’s ear, wow! But your Jesus told you off again and said to chill (John 18:10)
But that’s all in the past. Peter is so excited Jesus is back with them. So excited that when he saw the risen Jesus on the shore, he jumped off the boat and swam (21:7). Yes!!!!!
And so in today’s passage, it is to this Simon Peter that the resurrected Jesus speaks. What does Jesus say?
There are 2 commands, or instructions, that Jesus gives.
(A) Feed My Sheep
The first is the call for Peter to “feed his sheep”- that is, to take care of the people of God.
What exactly does Peter feed them with? Why, it’s the living bread, Jesus himself.
Charles Spurgeon says: Brethren, you have to feed Christ’s sheep. Our Lord says, “Feed! Feed! Feed!”
Blessed be God, you have not to invent a new food for His sheep! It is written, “Feed them,” but it is not written, “invent food for them.” God has appointed the proper food for His sheep—hand that out to them—and nothing else.
All sheep need feeding. The diets may vary- the young lambs, the middle-aged, and the grey-haired- but all need to be fed. Even after they’re fed, there’s a long list of shepherd tasks, drawn from the idea of Jesus as the Great Shepherd:
•Lead the sheep, encourage them and direct them in difficulty.
•Let your voice always be familiar to them.
•Carry the lamb and gently lead those that are in circumstances of pain and peril
•Have a heart for the lost and wandering sheep, seek after them—and bring them back!
•All these perhaps at risk to your own life
All this requires:
•Knowledge- feed on the bread of life yourself! I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty, declares the Lord (Jer 31:14)
•Loving care – they’re not YOUR sheep! They belong to God.
The commandment to feed His sheep is repeated 3 times, and on the 3rd time, Jesus alludes to Peter’s death.
Verse 18 here isn’t talking about getting dressed or aging- “gird” means to encircle, or wrap around (a person or part of the body) with a rope or piece of material. It means to fasten, bind or tie. However, in ancient times, the phrase of “stretching out one’s hands” was associated with crucifixtion. We thus realise that this prophecy probably refers to the common Roman practice of tying the cross-piece onto the condemned's man's shoulders prior to the crucifixion, and then, carrying the cross-piece, led to the place of crucifixion.
And records were indeed that Peter died by crucifixtion. The version ends with Jesus’ command to “follow me”, and Peter did just that, all the way to his grave.
[Eusebius confirms that Peter was crucified under Nero (Church History 2.25.5). Later, the apocryphal Acts of Peter (150-200 AD) indicates that Peter was crucified upside down (Acts of Peter, 35-38).]
(B) Follow Me
Follow me- Jesus’ second instruction to Peter.
We know how Peter did it — he physically walked with Jesus down dusty Galilean and Judean roads. Peter followed Jesus into the synagogue in Nazareth where Jesus was rejected, then to the hillside and heard the Sermon on the Mount. Peter had followed Jesus brashly, boldly, and with great courage, even following Jesus to the site of Jesus’ trial.
But from this point on, in a plot twist, the following of Jesus would be different that it had been. Jesus would no longer physically be with them. Peter has even been shown his own death. And yet, Peter chooses to follow.
Why? Because Peter loves Jesus .
“Do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know I love you”
“Do you love me?”
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
This mirrors the time episode where Peter denied Christ 3 times before the rooster crowed, and emphases Jesus’ forgiveness of that, and affirmation of Peter’s special role. If there was any doubt, Jesus made a special point of forgiving and restoring Peter and re-commissioning him as an apostle.
From Simon Peter, we can see that God calls and equips the most unlikely people. Peter had growing pains in his role, first as a disciple, then as the Apostle Peter, the Rock on which the church was founded.
For all that’s happened so far, Peter’s story has only just begun. Jesus’ promise that Peter would be foundational in building the Church was fulfilled in three stages: Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Then, he was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). Finally, he was summoned to the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius, who also believed and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). In this way, Peter was pivotal in opening the doors of the Church to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (1)
But it was precisely Peter’s character- impetuous, loud, to the point of rashness, but with the rough edges worn down, that stood him in good stead for his future role. The role which Jesus gave to him, Petrus, Cephas, “the rock on which I will build my church”.
Two commands — “feed the sheep” and “follow me.” We cannot do the first, without doing the second.
To those of you (us) who are already taking on shepherd roles, in church, in your workplace, in your families, with orwithout an “official” leadership title or role, know that you are reflecting the heart of God and following the example of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Keep it up and remember to keep feeding yourself – you can’t have well-fed lambs and sheep if you aren’t feeding yourself.
Shepherding can be very rewarding, but it can also be tedious, repetitive, draining work. And I don’t think we need to feel bad if we sometimes very un-shepherd-like and un-Christlike.
In speaking about ministering to others, Henri Nouwen says, “Who can save a child from a burning house without taking the risk of being hurt by the flames? Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?” Is it natural to run into a burning house? To enter into suffering of others? I don’t really think so.
Henri Nouwen, a brilliant theologian and counsellor who helped so many and yet struggled with his own issues, also said, “…no one can help anyone without becoming involved, without entering with his whole person into the painful situation, without taking the risk of becoming hurt, wounded or even destroyed in the process. The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others.” (from: The Wounded Healer)
So, my fellow shepherds, acknowledge your emotions and fears and your wounds, take them to Jesus to be ministered to with compassion and grace, then in turn, go back out to continue your shepherding work. Follow Jesus, for without this, you cannot feed His sheep.
If you’re not yet taking on a shepherding role, perhaps you can ask yourself why. Jesus’ question to Simon Peter, “Do you love me more than these things?” Are you serious with God? He says- feed my sheep, and he says, follow me. This is the last chapter of John, we’ve spent months looking at Jesus through John’s lenses. Jesus Christ, light of the world, Word made flesh, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, asks, “Will you follow me”.
So how about it? Follow the Great Shepherd. Feed His sheep.