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John 21,1-19

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TITLE:    Feed my lambs!

SERMON IN A SENTENCE:   Christ calls those who love him to feed his lambs and tend his sheep.

SCRIPTURE:    John 21:1-19

EXEGESIS:  

VERSES  1-3:   I AM GOING FISHING.

1After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together  were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon 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.

The Sea of Tiberius (v. 1) is another name for the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus has been in the vicinity of Jerusalem since 7:10, so this transition to Galilee is abrupt.

Seven disciples are mentioned (v. 2) without telling us why only seven: 

-- Nathanael is mentioned only in this Gospel, and is best known for doubting that anything good could come out of Nazareth (1:46) -- but after meeting Jesus Nathanael confessed, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel" (1:49).

-- Thomas is famous for doubting the resurrection (20:25), but when Jesus appears to him Thomas confessed, "My Lord and my God!" (20:28).

-- Peter has confessed Jesus as "the holy one of God" (6:69), but is famous for denying Jesus (18:15-18, 25-27).  He is a deeply flawed man, but has been and will continue to be the leader of the disciples.

-- The sons of Zebedee, James and John, are mentioned frequently in the Synoptics, but only here in the Gospel of John.

-- "and two others" (v. 2).  One of these is "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (v. 7 -- see also 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20).  This Gospel never names this disciple, and many scholars believe him to be the author of this Gospel.  Another might be Andrew, Peter's brother, one of two disciples of John who followed Jesus (1:35-37), and the one who led Peter to Jesus (1:40-42).

"Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.'  They said to him, 'We  will go with you' " (v. 3).  In the Synoptics, Jesus invites Peter and Andrew -- both fishermen -- to follow him, promising to make them "fish for people" -- or halieis anthropon -- fishers of men (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17).  Some scholars suggest that, by returning to their fishing boats,
these disciples are turning their backs on their responsibility to be halieis anthropon.  That, however, reads too much into the text.  People have to eat, and fishermen get their food from the sea.

Also, when people do not know what to do, they do what they know – turn to the comfort of familiar activity.  Peter is a fisherman, accustomed to a busy, physically demanding life on the sea.  We should expect him to grow restless when not working and to welcome the busyness of boat and nets.  He and the other disciples take up their nets, row their boats, and look for fish.  Very natural!

And yet, there is danger here too.  Immersed in what is familiar, people sometimes fail to do what is necessary.  Will that happen to these disciples?  Will they return to ministry?  Jesus intervenes to insure that they will not be lost permanently to their old ways.


VERSES  4-8:   IT IS THE LORD!

4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." 6He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon
Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging (Greek: surontes -- different from the verb in v. 11) the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off (Greek: pechon diakosion -- two hundred cubits -- a cubit being roughly 18 inches or half a meter)

"Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus" (v. 4). We have two resurrection motifs here.  Mary Magdalene visited Jesus' tomb early in the morning (20:1), and initially failed to recognize Jesus (20:15).

Why do the disciples fail to recognize Jesus?  Perhaps distance or poor light prevent them from seeing him clearly.  Perhaps Jesus' post-resurrection appearance is different.  Perhaps their eyes are clouded so that they do not recognize him.  Mary did not recognize Jesus on Easter until he called her name (20:16).  On the Emmaus road, the disciples'
"eyes were kept from recognizing him" until "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them" (Luke 24:13, 30).

"Children, you have no fish, have you?" (v. 5).  The word children (paidia -- not teknon) suggests a familiar relationship.  One would not ordinarily call fishermen children without expecting a hostile response.

"Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some" (v. 6).  Some scholars note that Greeks consider the right side to be the lucky side.  However, "it is difficult to understand what relevance this has to the New Testament.  Obedience to Christ, not luck, is the important thing" for this story (Morris, 762).

These men obey Jesus even though they have not recognized him.  It is not unusual for bystanders to suggest a different "fishing hole" to an unsuccessful fisherman.  Sometimes local people who know local secrets, so we should not be too surprised that these men follow Jesus' suggestion.  The result of their obedience is a catch so great that they cannot haul it in (v. 6).

"That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'  When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea" (v. 7).  Just as on Easter morning, the beloved disciple is the first to see and believe and Peter is the first to act (see 20:6-8).  Note that they first obeyed and only then were able to see and understand.  We should take note.  When faith is dim, acting in faith inspires faith.

It seems odd that Peter would clothe himself before jumping into the water.  Brown notes that:  (1) Peter would not have been completely naked, but would have been lightly clad;  (2) "the verb diazonnynai.can mean to put on clothes, but more properly it means to tuck them up and tie them in with a cincture so that one can have freedom of movement to do something." (3) Peter most likely just tucks his fisherman's smock into his cincture
before jumping into the water (Brown, 1072).

"But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off" (v. 8).  Hauling a net full of thrashing fish through the shallows is heavy work.  One hundred fifty-three large fish would weigh hundreds of pounds.  A hundred yards is the length of a football field -- quite a distance to drag a heavy weight.  Peter will complete the task by himself in v. 11.

VERSES  9-14:   SIMON PETER HAULED THE NET ASHORE

9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire (Greek:  anthrakian) there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled (Greek: heilkusen) the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples
dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

"When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire (Greek:  anthrakian) there, with fish on it, and bread" (v. 9).  The only other time that we find this word anthrakian in the NT is when Peter warmed himself over a charcoal fire as he betrayed Jesus (18:18, 25-27).  Now Jesus will give him a chance to redeem himself beside another anthrakian.

"Bring some of the fish that you have just caught" (v. 10).  Jesus has already prepared fish and bread.  Presumably, he needs more fish to feed this group of hungry men.
"So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled (Greek: heilkusen) the net ashore" (v. 11).  Jesus used this verb, helkein, on two earlier occasions in this Gospel to describe drawing people to himself (6:44; 12:32).  "The use of this verb with reference to the disciples and the catch of fish suggests that (the disciples) now join God and Jesus in drawing people to Jesus" (O'Day, 858; see also Brown, 1097; Smith, 393-394; Krentz and Vogel, 30).
What the rest of the disciples were not able to do (v. 6), Peter accomplishes by himself (v. 11).  This is a tribute, not only to Peter's physical strength, but also to his leadership role among the disciples.

"full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them" (v. 11).  Christians as early as Augustine have gone to great lengths trying to tease out the meaning of this number.  They note that 153 is the sum of the numbers 1 through 17 (1+2+3...+17=153) -- and that 17 is the sum of 7 and 10 (7+10=17) -- and that 7 is the sum of 3 plus 4 (3+4=7).  They then assign
meanings to these various numbers: i.e., ten stands for the law (Ten Commandments); seven stands for grace or the sevenfold spirit of God (Rev. 1:4); three stands for the Trinity; four stands for the New Jerusalem, the city built foursquare.

Others resort to gematria, which assigns numerical values to letters of the Hebrew alphabet and attempts to find meaning in words where the letters add up to a particular value -- in this case 153.

Such mathematical gymnastics are like questioning how many angels can dance on the head of a pin -- pedantic -- distracting -- not very useful.  Most likely, a disciple counted the fish to tell people the exact dimensions of this great miracle -- "Wow!  A hundred and fifty-three fish -- and big ones too!"  Some scholars suggest that the disciples need to
know the number of fish to split the catch equitably but, in context, the size of the miracle is the significance here.  Jesus began his ministry with a miracle of abundance at Cana of Galilee (2:1-11).  Now he concludes his ministry with another miracle of abundance.

Most scholars agree that the large catch represents Christians, caught in the gospel net (the church), which remains untorn despite the weighty catch.  By the time of the writing of this Gospel, the church is growing rapidly and becoming diverse.  That is Christ's intent.

"Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish" (v. 13).  This wording has eucharistic overtones, but there is no mention of blessing or breaking bread, both of which are part of the usual eucharistic formula.  This is also reminiscent of the earlier feeding of the five thousand on the shores of this same sea (6:1-15).  Jesus is sensitive both to people's physical and spiritual needs.   At our best, the church follows Jesus' example by feeding, clothing, housing, and educating people.  Our concern for people's physical needs not only relieves human suffering, but also constitutes a powerful spiritual witness.

"This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead" (v. 14).  It is actually the fourth appearance.  The first was to Mary Magdalene (20:11-17) -- the second to the disciples without Thomas (20:19-23)-- and the third to Thomas and the disciples (20:26-29).  Presumably, the author is not counting the appearance to Mary, because she is not one of the twelve.

VERSES  15-17:   FEED MY SHEEP

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love (Greek: agapas) me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love (Greek: philo) you." Jesus said to him, "Feed (Greek: boske) my lambs." (Greek: arnia)

16A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love (Greek: agapas) me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love (Greek: philo) you." Jesus said to him, "Tend (Greek: poimaine) my sheep." (Greek: probata)

17He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love (Greek: phileis) me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love (Greek: phileis) me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love (Greek: philo) you." Jesus said to him, "Feed (Greek: boske) my sheep." (Greek: probata)

"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" (v. 15).  Love me more than what?  More than Peter loves the other disciples?  More than Peter loves boats and fishing?  Jesus is almost certainly asking whether Peter loves him more than the other disciples do.  Jesus repeats the question three times.  Peter denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus' arrest (18:17, 25, 27), and now Jesus offers him three chances to
redeem himself.

Note the shifting between two Greek words for love in vv. 15-17 – agapas (from agapao) and philo or phileis (from phileo).  The traditional explanation is that agapao is the stronger, more sacrificial kind of love -- the kind of love that focuses on the welfare of the beloved.  Phileo is a less demanding, but still significant, brotherly love or friendship.
Jesus asks twice if Pet r loves him with the deeper agapao love, and Peter responds by affirming the less deep phileo love.  The third time, Jesus shifts to phileo, using Peter's word -- asking if Peter loves him with the less deep phileo love, and Peter is hurt to hear Jesus downgrade his question to match Peter's earlier responses.

Earlier, Peter was quick to make bold claims, saying, "Lord, why can I not follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you" (13:37), prompting Jesus to warn Peter that he would deny Jesus three times.  Peter did that (18:15-18, 25-27).  Now a chastened Peter is hesitant to claim more than phileo love -- is hurt not to be able to offer agapao love -- and is hurt by Jesus' honing in three times on his weakness.

Some scholars downplay this explanation, saying that agapao and phileo are  interchangeable in this Gospel -- and that, by the relatively late date of  the writing of this Gospel, the meanings of agapao and phileo have become less distinctive (Carson, 676-677).  However, the interplay of agapao and phileo are so nicely done in vv. 15-17 that it seems likely that the author intends the contrast -- intends to highlight Peter's failure and
diminished confidence.

In any event, "the one thing about which Jesus questioned Peter prior to commissioning him to tend the flock was love.  This is the basic qualification for Christian service.  Other qualities may be desirable, but love is completely indispensable (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3)" (Morris, 772).

"Feed my lambs.. Tend my sheep..  Feed my sheep" (vv. 14-17).  In the Synoptics, Jesus gives Peter an evangelistic role -- promising to make him "fish for people" (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17).  Now he gives Peter a pastoral role -- caring for his lambs/sheep.

"Feed (Greek: boske) my lambs (Greek: arnia).. Tend (Greek: poimaine) my sheep (Greek: probata)..  Feed (Greek: boske) my sheep (Greek: probata)" (vv. 14-17).

Jesus describes Peter's ministry "in verbs, not nouns:  Tend, feed, not Be a pastor, hold the office of pastor.  And the sheep are Christ's sheep, not Peter's" (C.K. Barrett, Essays on John; quoted in Carson, 678).

Regarding the shifts between "feed" and "tend," shepherds "feed" sheep, but "tend" implies a broader kind of care -- a concern for every aspect of the sheep's health and safety.

Regarding the shifts between "lambs" and "sheep," a lamb is a young sheep, still dependent on its mother for its care and feeding.  All sheep are vulnerable, but lambs especially so.

In a Jewish context, the word "lamb" also has a sacrificial quality – as in "the Lamb of God.  At the time of the writing of this Gospel, persecution of Christians was common, and the use of the word "lamb" here might be intended to highlight the sacrifices of Christian martyrs.

VERSES 18-19:  YOU WILL STRETCH OUT YOUR HANDS

18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

Earlier Peter said, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you" (13:37).  Jesus responded by predicting that Peter would deny him three times (13:38).  Now Jesus says that Peter will glorify God by his death just as Jesus glorified God by his (v. 19; see also 7:39; 12:16; 13:31-32; 14:13; 17:1-5).

"stretch out your hands" sounds like crucifixion, and by the time of the writing of this Gospel Peter has been martyred, probably in by crucifixion in Rome.  Legend has it that he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to emulate his Lord, but evidence for this is weak.

The saying about the belt (v. 18) probably has its roots in a proverb about youth going where it will and the old man having to go where others lead him.  In context, it sounds as if Peter will be led to his crucifixion, but the order is backwards.  ".stretch out your hands" (crucifixion) precedes "will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go" (being led to crucifixion).  A possible explanation is that the cross-beam will be bound to Peter's outstretched arms, at which point he will be led to the place of execution" (Beasley-Murray, 408).

"will...take you where you do not wish to go" (v. 18).  In the Synoptics, Jesus prays, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want" (Matt. 26:39), but expresses no hint of this reluctance in the Gospel of John.  Peter will not be as willing.

"He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God" (v. 19).  This wording is very similar to that which this Gospel uses to describe Jesus' death (12:33; 18:32).

Jesus concludes by saying, "Follow me" (v. 19b).  In the Synoptics, Jesus extended this invitation to Peter at their first meeting (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17), but in the Gospel of John, Jesus extended it only to Philip at that time (1:43).  Only in this last chapter does Jesus invite Peter to follow him.  This invitation constitutes Jesus' vote of confidence in Peter's
newfound steadfastness and maturity.

SERMON:    

We are at the very end of the Gospel of John.  Jesus has been crucified and resurrected.  Mary Magdalene has seen the resurrected Christ first -- and so have the disciples, first without Thomas and then with Thomas.  Now Jesus appears to seven disciples -- we are not told why only seven.  Five of the seven are named, and they are a flawed bunch.  Two are known for their hot heads.  Three have doubted or denied Jesus:

-- Nathanael is the one who said of Jesus, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

-- Peter, of course, denied Jesus three times.

-- Thomas, of course, is the famous doubter -- Doubting Thomas -- the one who, when told that Jesus was alive, said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I WILL NOT believe."

You would think that Jesus, needing only a dozen good men, could have found better than these.  I think that, perhaps, Jesus picked such an ordinary bunch so that we wouldn't feel inferior.  If Jesus can do so much with these guys, perhaps he can do something with me.  Perhaps he can do something with you.  Perhaps our clay feet are not important.  Perhaps it is only Christ's power to transform our lives that really counts.

That is what I believe!  That is my hope!  An old Gospel song put is this way:

"I am weak, but he is strong."

Isn't that the truth!  I AM weak, but Christ IS strong.  If Jesus could make something out of Doubting Nathanael and Denying Peter and Doubting Thomas, I am confident that he can make something out of me.  I am certain that he can make something out of you.  I am sure that he can -- and will -- work with the ordinary people of this ordinary congregation to do extraordinary things!  That is what keeps me going.

In our story, the disciples were fishing -- or, rather, were getting their nets wet -- they had fished all night and caught nothing.  Jesus told them to put their nets down on the other side of the boat, and they caught a great catch -- one hundred fifty three fish -- big ones, too!  I can just imagine one of the disciples standing over the net, saying, "Wow!  What a
catch!  I wonder how many fish there are!"  And so he counted them so that he could tell everyone.  One hundred fifty-three BIG fish!

As they brought their catch ashore, Jesus was waiting for them with breakfast -- fish broiled over a charcoal fire and bread to go with it.  If you have ever prepared your catch over a campfire, you know how great that tasted.

There is one little detail here that I want to bring to your attention.  Jesus broiled the fish over a charcoal fire. This word, charcoal, appears only twice in the New Testament -- both times in the Gospel of John:

-- In the first instance, Peter warmed himself around a charcoal fire when he denied Jesus three times (18:18-27) -- it was by a charcoal fire that Peter dishonored himself.

-- Now Jesus calls Peter and the disciples to gather around a charcoal fire for breakfast and, as we will see in a moment, it is by that charcoal fire that Jesus redeems Peter -- forgives him -- brings him back into full discipleship.  How thoughtful of Jesus to wash away Peter's memory of that first charcoal fire by restoring him by this charcoal fire.

Jesus fed all the disciples but, after breakfast, singled out Peter -- Peter, who had risen so high and fallen so hard -- Peter, whose passion always got the best of him -- Peter, who always seemed to lead with his jaw.  Jesus asked, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

Peter had always been a braggart, boasting about all the great things that he was going to do for Jesus.  He had bragged that he would even lay down his life for Jesus (13:37) but, when push came to shove, he denied Jesus three times.  So now Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

Jesus asks three times:

-- "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  "Yes, Lord."  "Feed my lambs."

-- "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  "Yes, Lord." "Tend my sheep."

-- "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  "Yes, Lord."  "Feed my sheep."

"Feed my lambs!"  "Tend my sheep!"  "Feed my sheep!"  Those were Peter's marching orders -- his mission statement -- the work to which he was to dedicate his life.

"Feed my lambs!"  "Tend my sheep!"  "Feed my sheep!"  That is our mission statement, too -- the work to which we, as Christians, must dedicate our lives.  The church has been feeding lambs and tending sheep since its earliest days, and is still feeding lambs and tending sheep today.  Every Christian -- every person here today -- has a responsibility to feed lambs and tend sheep.  Are you doing that?  What are you doing to feed lambs and
tend sheep?

Perhaps we should first ask what it means to feed lambs and tend sheep?  A complete answer to that question would take hours.  Let me, then, just give a few examples.  Then I will invite you to listen for Christ's call to learn how he would have you, personally, to feed his lambs and tend his sheep.

It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, that Jesus is using lambs and sheep as metaphors to talk about people.  He is calling us to feed and tend people -- but what kind of people?

In Jesus' day, shepherds tending flocks of sheep were a common sight.  Sheep are not very bright -- nor can they defend themselves against predators.  If you turned loose a flock of domestic sheep to wander at will, some would wander off.  If one walked over a cliff, others would follow.  But the greatest danger would be wolves or coyotes or dogs.  To survive, sheep require leadership -- protection.  Sheep are vulnerable.

And even more so!  A lamb is a young sheep -- a baby sheep -- dependent on its mother for care and feeding.  A lamb without its mother isn't going to last long.

So, when Jesus calls Peter -- and calls us -- to feed lambs and tend sheep, he is calling us to take care of the most vulnerable people among us.  He is calling us to help the helpless.

Through the centuries, the church has done that in a thousand different ways.

First -- and we must not forget that this is first -- the church provides spiritual food -- conducts worship -- offers word and sacraments.  Sometimes it is difficult for us to appreciate the significance of that.  When people around the world are starving and drinking from filthy rivers, shouldn't we devote our resources to food and water instead of bread and wine?

But worship meets our highest need -- our relationship to God.  Worship transforms us from the inside out.  Worship is the first work of the church, and fuels all its other works.  In worship, the weak become strong.  So, if the church is to feed lambs and tend sheep, it must first lead in worship.

Second, feeding lambs and tending sheep means helping people to understand the scriptures:

-- To understand that, through Christ, God offers salvation -- forgiveness-- grace.

-- And to understand what Christ is calling them to do -- what it means to be a disciple.

Feeding lambs is a perfect metaphor.  Keep in mind that lambs are young sheep -- the sheep equivalent of children.  Feeding lambs means teaching our children about Jesus -- teaching them the great Bible stories -- praying with them daily -- helping them to understand that God loves them -- and helping them what God would call them to do -- what it means to be a disciple.

The church can do part of that, but the greatest responsibility for feeding lambs is in the home.  Just as a good parent takes charge of insuring that children get good food and proper medical care, a good parent must also take charge of insuring that children get good spiritual nurture.  Some of that can take place in Sunday school or Vacation Bible
School, but the bulk of it must take place in the home.  If you have children at home, pray with them daily.  Make it a point to sit down as a family for meals, insofar as humanly possible, and begin your meals with a short prayer.  Read the great Bible stories to your children each evening.  Don't wait until they are teenagers.  You will regret it if you do.

And, third, feeding lambs and tending sheep mean attending to people's physical needs.  It should be instructive to know that Jesus spent so much time healing the blind -- touching lepers -- getting a crippled man back on his feet.  As in all things, we need here to follow his example.

Feeding lambs and tending sheep means providing for people's physical needs -- feeding the hungry -- housing the homeless -- digging wells for people without clean water -- teaching people basic sanitation -- providing medical care.  Someone said, "Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven."  There is some truth to that.  It is also true that
nothing says lovin' like food for the hungry and medical care for the sick.

And, finally, feeding lambs and tending sheep means establishing justice for the weak and the oppressed.  One of the saddest chapters of the church's history has to do with the way that churches gave their blessing to slavery.  One of the proudest moments in the church's history has to do with Christians marching in the front lines of the American civil rights movements at a time when it was dangerous to march.

In this regard, feeding sheep and tending lambs means offering support to Christians who are being persecuted.  We tend to think of persecution of being a First Century problem, but it is also a Twenty-first Century problem.  Worldwide, millions of Christians are subject to terrible persecution in Vietnam, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and a whole host of other nations.  Christians will die today -- be martyred today for their faith.  We will never hear their names until we meet them in heaven, but we need to become more aware of them today.  We need to pray for them -- protest for them -- lobby for them -- help them in any way that we can.

Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  Then he said, "Feed my lambs....  Tend my sheep."

Today, Jesus says, "Joe, do you love me?"  "Susan, do you love me?"  "Dick, do you love me?"  "Nancy, do you love me?"

And then he says, "Feed my lambs."  "Tend my sheep."


Barry Robinson, "Peter's Restoration"
http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=58132&ContributorID=8485


Damian Phillips, "How Much Do You Love Him?"
Deals with "Feed my lambs/tend my sheep" from vv. 15-17.
http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=41370&ContributorID=6779


A BIT OF HUMOR:

In the cartoon PONTIUS PUDDLE, King Pontius Puddle says, "Sometimes I'd
like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could
do something about it!"

His trusty sidekick asks, "What's stopping you?" 

King Pontius Puddle says, "I'm afraid he might ask me the same question! "



O How I Love Jesus (BH #217; CH #99; TNCH #52; UMH #170)
also known as There is a Name I Love to Hear

 

Rescue the Perishing (BH #559; UMH #591)

 

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