• Tony Birkhead

Week 3- Love through your story



It’s Impossible to Argue Against Authentic Love!

INTRODUCTION

Jesus’ sacrificial love for us inspires and empowers us to love others through our story.

KEY SCRIPTURE

John 21:15-19

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The 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. 18 Very truly I tell you, 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.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

How do you think our culture would define love? How is this different than how you think Jesus defines it?

Why is having a firm understanding of the biblical definition of love important?

Look again at their dialogue in these verses. What did Jesus ask Peter to do? Based on what you know about Peter’s life, how did he handle the task?

In what ways are you encouraged by Jesus’ conversation with Peter?

Imagine that you were standing on the beach with Jesus that day. How would you answer His questions?

MOVING FORWARD

  • Why do you think love is such a defining mark of the Christian? Do we tend to think of love as the primary mark of the Christian life? If not, what do we think of as that mark? Why?

  • What most frequently stands in the way of you truly loving others?

  • What are some tangible expressions of this kind of love you might practice this week: At your workplace? In your home? With your friends?

PRAY TOGETHER

Close by asking God to perfect His love in you and help you better appreciate Jesus’ sacrificial act of love on your behalf. Pray for the opportunity to put your Christ-like love into action this week, and pray for love to become the mark for which our church is known in our community.

COMMENTARY

John 21:15-19

21:15. Embarrassing as it must have been at the time, this tender exchange restored Peter to leadership—a role he exercised early in Acts. Throughout the history of the church, thousands have been scattered on the roadside of good intentions for ministry; they traded God’s call for something else—like fishing. For the next nine verses, John brought his Gospel to a close with the clear enunciation of Peter’s call to ministry. Jesus asked Peter almost the same question three times. This could reflect the three denials, but whether it did or not, the command was similar each time: “Feed My lambs … Shepherd My sheep … Feed My sheep.” A quick glance at 1 Peter lets us know the disciple never forgot this moment.

21:16. The shepherding call continued a second time as Jesus used Peter’s old name (Simon), reverting to “pebble” rather than “rock.” The flow of the text emphasizes humility and service rather than primacy over the other apostles.

21:17. At this point in the text there is a change of verb in Jesus’ question while the verb in Peter’s answer stays the same. We also learn that Peter was hurt by the third question. In Jesus’ first two questions He used the word “agapao;” hence the NIV translation “truly love.” In the third we find the word “phileo” and the NIV drops “truly.” Most interpreters find no significant difference in the words, particularly since the conversation took place in Aramaic. Nevertheless, John’s record in Greek did, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, adopt a different word. It seems difficult from the grammar of the text to argue that Peter’s hurt was brought about only by the connection of a third question with his three denials. We might conclude that Peter was hurt because the question had been asked three times. But one should not dismiss the possibility that his discomfort lay in Jesus’ use of a lesser word.

21:18-19. Having established the motivation for service, Jesus went on to describe the turns that Peter’s life would take. This brash, independent, vocal fisherman would one day be dependent, presumably a prisoner, and, many believe, a martyr. Only the Son of God could tell someone that following Him would lead to death and then immediately say, Follow Me! Stretch out your hands refers to crucifixion, where a person’s hands and arms are spread out and nailed to the crossbeam. Tradition says Peter chose to be crucified upside down because he felt himself unworthy of dying in the same exact manner as Jesus. The reference to signify by what kind of death he [Peter] would glorify God echoes the reference “to signify what kind of death He [Jesus] was about to die” in 12:33. This verse therefore establishes a connection between the deaths of Jesus and Peter. As God’s Lamb, Jesus died for the sins of the world (1:29,36); Peter died a martyr’s death, giving his life as a witness to his faith in Jesus.

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