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Course Correction for Disciples of Christ

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Course Correction for Disciples of Christ

John 21:15-22

Pastor-Teacher Scott E. Slaughter


We tend to think that a great Apostle would not need correction to his course. But we clearly see that Peter was in great need of a course correction. He had some wrong views about the other disciples, about the Lord’s purposes, and even himself that was hurting him and the work of Christ.

Since the night of the arrest Peter has seen the resurrected Jesus but has not been officially reinstated by Christ. Peter was definitely a leader among the Apostles and maybe this contributed to his high opinion of himself and his dedication. But Peter had learned a lesson and had seriously mourned over his sin. Peter, unlike Judas, had genuinely repented and thus was in need of reinstatement to ministry. But first Jesus was going to drive home the lessons Peter needed to glean from this experience.  

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get into this frame of mind as well. We begin to think too highly of ourselves. We begin to look down upon other believers and what they are doing for Christ. We begin to think that our love for Christ is much greater than other Christians. Let’s learn from the Apostle Peter’s experience. The Lord had three lines of correction for Peter that is good for pastors and church members.

I.                Don’t “Fake Yourself Out” (15-17).

Peter had previously said that “though all forsook Christ he would not.” Can you imagine what went through the other disciples’ minds if they were able to hear what Peter said? In this early statement Peter calls into question the devotion of the other disciples and simultaneously elevates his own faithfulness to Christ. This was proud and arrogant. There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus but Peter found out the night of Jesus’ arrest that he didn’t love Jesus as much as he thought. Our Lord reminds Peter of his earlier boast…

A.    “More than these?”

Our Lord asks Peter this question to turn Peter’s earlier boast around and asks it of him now that he (Peter) has seen the true level of his devotion. Peter is very hesitant this time to affirm that he loves Jesus more than the other disciples.

B.    “Thou knowest that I (fondly) love thee.”

The word that Peter uses (love) literally means “fondness.” Now Peter is not quick to say to Jesus that he “loves” Jesus with all his heart. Peter has learned not to over estimate his own dedication. Jesus uses this line of questioning three times in order to drive home the point. Notice also that Peter denied the Lord three times and was forced to confess his true spiritual level three times. It is not likely that this is a coincidence.


We must be careful not to brag about our great love for Jesus. The truth is, we only love Him, the Bible says, because He first loved us. His love is initiative; our love is responsive.


II.             Feed His Sheep (15-17).

This is the primary calling of the pastor of any church – to feed the flock. The pastor’s main function is to be a teacher of the Word of God to the flock of God. This is how God has chosen to keep His people in His Word.

It is fascinating that each time that our Lord asks Peter about his love He then gives Peter a mission – “feed my sheep.” Our love for Jesus is demonstrated by our obedience to Jesus. Peter would yet die for the Lord but meanwhile it is time for Peter to get back to work. This command from our Lord did several things, one, it gave Peter a method by which he could begin to pick up the pieces of his mess. Two, it reinstated Peter before the other disciples, and, thirdly, it laid the foundation for the pastoral mandate.

Peter needed to be more concerned with his ministry and less concerned with braggadocios claims and being in competition with other believers.

Are you ministering out of a competitive attitude? Are trying to out-due other Christians? Stop. Peter shows us that the end of such arrogant ministry is shame. Do you need to stop looking at others and focus on your service and obedience to Christ?


III.           Follow Him (18-22).

This is the issue – we are to be following Jesus.

A.    In the Face of Persecution & Hardship (18, 19)!

Jesus in essence says here, ‘Peter, you will die for Me someday. You will have another chance to prove your love for Me in this way. When it comes again, Peter, - follow Me.’ This is both stirring and disturbing. Peter now knows a vital piece of his future – how he is going to die! But that is NOT the issue! The issue is following Jesus! Peter has now faced death with fear and His Lord with shame; history records that the next time Peter beat fear because he would not stand before His Lord again with shame. Peter would follow Jesus – now the question is, will you and I?

B.    Regardless of Fellow Believers (20-22)!    

Peter still struggling with others gives way to weakness yet again with this last question, “Lord what about this man?” This is a reference to John who was following behind Jesus and Peter. Peter is still tempted to be concerned with someone else. Our Lord deal with this attitude once and for all when He says, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” ‘Stop looking at what I’m doing in other believer’s lives Peter, you be concerned about your own obedience and ministry and you’ll be fine. Peter – YOU follow Me.’ History show Peter did – again the question is, will you and I follow Jesus?

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