John 21:15 through John 21:23 (NIV)
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
We are all called to serve Christ. In order to serve him effectively, however, Jesus calls us to consider our service carefully. Before we are able to serve him, we must join Peter under the direction of Jesus to weigh our service to Him. Before we are ready to serve Him appropriately, we must first:
I. Consider your Passion (Vv. 15-17)
A. The primary place of Jesus
I once heard about a man who came home from church one Sunday. He ate lunch and then sat down in his easy chair all tired. He got his Sunday newspaper and he started to read it. He was so
happy to be home because he had a long hard week and he was
totally exhausted. He just wanted to sit down and relax. He had
been at church and sat through a boring sermon (probably like
this one). And he just wanted everyone to leave him alone, when
his little five year old girl came running into the room.
She ran up to him and said, "Daddy, please come and play with
me!" He said, "Honey, not right now. Daddy's tired from
working all week and going to church this morning. Let me just
sit hear and read the newspaper." Her response was, "Please come
and play with me, Daddy." He realized he had to think of some-
thing so he grabbed a paper he had gotten at church. Tore it up
into many small pieces and said to his little girl, "Honey, take
this into your room. If you can put the pieces back together in
the right place again Daddy will play with you."
She said OK." And off she went. He thought to himself, "I've
got it made now. I will take her hours to put that back togeth-
Ten minutes later she came running back into the room. She had
taken the scotch tape and put every piece right back where it
belonged. The Father thought to himself, "Even I couldn't have
done it that fast." He said, "Your Mom helped you right?" The
little girl replied, "No one helped me. I did it all by myself." He said, "Well, how in the world did you do it?" He held it up
and said, "How did you do that so fast?" She said, "Look Daddy,"
and turned the paper around. "There's a picture of Jesus on the
other side. When I got Jesus in the right place all the other
pieces just fit."
Friends, that ought to tell us something. When we get Jesus in
the right place, all the other pieces will fit in our lives.
***We should love God because He is God, and the measure of our love should be to love him without measure.
- Bernard of Clairvaux
B. The Primary motive for service
In a boiler room, it is impossible to look into the boiler to see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube, that serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the great boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; if empty, so is the boiler. How do you know you love God? You believe you love him, but you want to know. Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother is the measure of your love for God.
II. Count the Cost (Vv. 18-19)
A. Cost not restricted by limits
A boy stopped before a large marble plaque in the church. "What are all those names for?" he asked the minister.
"Sonny," said the minister, "those are in memory of all the people who died in the service."
The boy replied: "WHICH service, Reverend? The morning or the evening service?"
--It is amazing that some can give their lives for the service of the Lord, yet to others, an hour three or four times a week is too much to sacrifice in their service to Christ.
--The question should not be how much it will cost us to follow Christ, but how much do we owe.
B. Cost not regulated by wishes
---Sometimes our service involves things we do not choose for ourselves. We may wish our service were involved in more dramatic ways or in more exotic places.
*** Dr. G. Campbell Morgan was especially impressed by this truth when he was handed a poem one day written by a 19-year-old servant girl whose household chores kept her occupied 12 to 15 hours a day. Later, at a service in Westminster Chapel, London, he read the homespun rhyme penned by this faithful worker and commented favorably upon its contents.
"Lord of all pots and pans and things - since I've no time to be a saint by doing lovely deeds or watching late with Thee, or dreaming in the dawnlight or storming Heaven's gates, make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates! Although I may have Martha hands, I have a Mary mind; so when I black the boots and shoes, Thy sandals, Lord, I find! I think of how they trod the earth each time I scrub the floor. Accept this meditation, Lord; I haven't time for more. Warm all the kitchen with Thy love, and light it with Thy peace. Forgive me all my worrying and make all grumbling cease. Thou who didst love to give men food in room or by the sea, accept this service that I do - I do it unto Thee."
III. Concentrate your focus (Vv. 20-23)
A. Avoiding the distraction of others
--- When we compare our service or our sacrifice to that of another, we show we are concerned about what it cost us. If we measure our sacrifice against another, we have lost our focus.
--- Once while at a red light, I began to daydream about other things, and as the person in the next lane to me began to drive away, I just naturally thought it was clear to go. I stepped on the gas, and proceeded to go through a red light. I had looked to the one beside me, instead of the light before me.
B. Attentive to the direction of the Lord
When the boys were little, Jean taught them a rhyme to help them know when to cross the street.
Red means stop
Green means go
Yellow means very, very slow
Keep your eye on the light
It will tell you what is right.
We must keep our eyes on Jesus, and not on each other in our service to the Lord.
Jesus told peter, What is that to you, YOU FOLLOW ME!
Our motive for serving Jesus must not be for what we can get (v.15) but our willingness to serve Him is born out of a love for Him (vv 15-17). Such love may be costly (vv. 18-19), but if our concern is the cost, and we measure our sacrifice against another (v. 21), we have lost our focus. What is important is our individual walk of obedience (v.22) born out of love.