You Follow Me: The Epilogue
John 21 You Follow Me (The Epilogue) Introduction: We ended last week on this verse..."Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31 John makes it clear this is not a biography, this is not an exhaustive account of the life and work of Jesus (as if there could exist any such thing..). What is recorded, is recorded so that we might believe that Jesus is Messiah, the promised anointed King of Israel, the Son of God, and that by believing we might share in the life that is in his name (or person). As we finish this amazing book this morning, I believe John would desire us to ask ourselves again: What do we believe? Where are we headed? Where is your life going? Who or what are you following? What do you really want? These are the deep heart searching questions that John has been after from the start.. You see, each of us is believing in something, trusting in something, and that is taking us somewhere, either further into life or further into death, now and forever. You might have the perfect plan for your life, a great education, career, marriage, family, and if these things don’t happen something inside of you dies. And that mini-experience of death is a warning sign. “Beliefs that let us down are prophetic whispers, saying, “Don’t you see where this is going?”” -Ray Ortlund Jr So what do you believe in, what are you trusting in? And do you realize that what you believe is a matter of life-and-death? What you believe, whatever it is, is either killing you or enlivening you. You might be a skeptic or a nihilist. But by believing it, you do not have life in its name. John writes that we might have life by trusting/believing in Jesus. But what does John mean by life? “John’s gospel believes that “Life” in the word’s full sense occurs only where there is trust in God’s one great hour of sharing, which is Jesus. Life exists, in the Gospel’s conviction, where there is no longer the abysmal dread of death, the awful weight of guilt, the horrid emptiness of meaninglessness, the lifeless absence of God, and the futile quest of the worlds multiple gods and idols. Life is present wherever Jesus, and all that he means, is appreciated and finally trusted.” -Bruner 1. You Follow Me 1. As John closes out this Gospel the most important thing then, in his mind and heart, is that disciples continue to follow Jesus. The most important thing in the whole world as John has reminded us over and again is sticking with Jesus - and I believe that’s one reason why this last story is recorded for us. And although there are probably many things that we could focus on in this closing section I think this is the most vital point. 2. John makes this point in story form in what actually took place the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples. 3. Tell the Story…The original call of Peter… the recalling of Peter… similar circumstance and detail…. the rededication of Peter.. do you love me? show me by loving ad serving my people…no matter what You Follow Me! 4. Consider this. Jesus knows you just as he knew Peter. He knew Peter loved him, even before he denied him, he also knew Peter was weak, that Peter was full of pride, that Peter was a sinner, he knew Peter would fail him, and finally he knew that Peter would deny him. But Jesus knowledge of Peter doesn’t stop his love for and commitment to Peter. And when it’s all said and done, here Jesus is to help Peter pick up the pieces of his broken life and Jesus is inviting him again to stick with him, to follow closer than before, to be his special friend… 5. Tim Keller often says, "We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” In Jesus we are fully known and fully loved and accepted...I’ve said it again and again…isn’t this the love and acceptance that every human being longs for and is looking for? 1. “Everything in this fallen world will fail you in some way, but God's goodness and grace never fails.” -Tripp 2. Well if this love and acceptance is truly found in Jesus alone, as this Gospel claims it is… then it is vital that we don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of us following and sticking close to Jesus. 2. What Does it Look Like to Follow Jesus? 1. John all throughout this Gospel has said it many times and in many ways. To Follow Jesus, to stick with Jesus or to “Abide in him” means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience and joy. It also means whatever Jesus says, that is the final and most important word to us. Jesus has the final say in our lives.This is that idea of truly being at home, settled, fixed into, at peace, at rest in Jesus. Jesus is saying -Make your home in me. Plant your life in the midst of mine. Cling to me. 3. Using some pointers from our text: 1. Followers of Jesus take sin seriously. “Peter, Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” -We allow Jesus to face our sin, shame and utter failure head on… Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush with Peter. He goes right to the heart of the issue. Jesus and Peter have unresolved business. And yet as Jesus exposes Peter’s wounds - his sin and his shame, he doesn’t rub his face in it, but he also doesn’t ignore it. He deals with each specific sin and applies his healing and forgiveness. This means that we are going to face our sin head on, not ignoring it, not shifting blame to others, but confessing it. Sins big and small. We are going to take sin very seriously and we are going to take Jesus’ forgiveness and healing through the cross very seriously. 2. Followers of Jesus love and care for others….. “Peter, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” Followers of Jesus love greatly because they have been loved greatly. There really is no distinction in the different words that Jesus is using for sheep. But having started with directing Peter towards the lambs… I wonder if Jesus is saying Peter, have abundant grace upon and love for especially the weakest among my people as I have had abundant grace upon you in your weakness and failure… 1. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 3. Followers of Jesus are surrendered. -“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” 1. “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.” -Bonhoeffer 2. If I follow Jesus will I have to give up… will I have to pray, read my bible, give up sex, quit my Job. But here we are negotiating the cost rather than counting it. Usually we are willing to give up things, but we aren’t willing to give up the right to decide what those things are. Like Peter and the other disciples, we may not have all the problems solved—the problems of following Jesus and saying yes to his teaching and his Lordship and his saving work. He may confuse us at times, and baffle us with things he says, and provoke us, and offend us. Yet your heart must say something like, I do not know all that you are going to ask of me, Lord. But I’ll do whatever you say in your Word, whether I like it or not, and I’ll accept patiently whatever you send into my life, whether I understand it or not.” We cannot say to Jesus, you are my consultant, I will be happy to take your recommendations and I might even do some of them. No. if you want Jesus with you, you have to give up the right to self-determination. -Keller 4. Followers of Jesus practice Costly Grace - 1. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. … It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him…..Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” 4. Greatness of Jesus 1. John closes his Gospel with this statement: "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” 2. When we moderns read this, we think, well yes Jesus did many things, many wonderful things and they are not all recorded in the Gospel accounts, but John is obviously and pardonably exaggerating and he did not anticipate the many volumes of learning and works of art, the printing press or all that technology that the world would give us in the centuries that would follow. Or did he? 3. “Remember, the Jesus to whom John bears witness is not only the obedient Son and the risen Lord, he is the incarnate Word, the one through him the universe was crated and is sustained. If all his deeds were described, the world would be a very small and inadequate library indeed.” -Carson 4. John is saying that Jesus is so ultimate, so great, so unfathomable that the world (cosmos) will never be able to fully comprehend the glory of all that Jesus has said and done.. What an honor to be a follower of Jesus! 5. We know and believe that Jesus is the eternal God who became very human flesh. We believe that Jesus is it. He is the most important figure in all of world history, in all of time and eternity and that the most important thing in all the world is to follow Jesus, and to have life in his name. Conclusion: John’s story is how the True Bread came down from heaven to give life to the world. It’s the story of the giver of living water, that if we drink we will never thirst again. It is the story of the Light of the World, through whom we will have the light of life. It is the story of the Door by whom we enter for true rest and safety. It is the story of the Good Shepherd, who comes to save his lost and abused sheep by giving his life. It is the story of the Resurrection and the Life, through whom we receive resurrection life. It is the story of the Way, the Truth and the Life, by whom we come to the Father, and finally it is the story of the True Vine- if we abide in him we will bear fruit. It’s God’s story and it’s an invitation to be our story also. It’s our personal invitation to follow Jesus and have LIFE in his name.