Tom: We’re continuing with the gospel. We’re in the Gospel of John 21; Dave, we pick up with verse 15: “So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?’ He sayeth unto him, ‘Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ And he sayeth unto him, ‘Feed my lambs.’” Now, Dave, he’s going to do this again and again, but before we get to the other ones, why is Jesus saying this to Simon Peter, especially in comparison with the other ones?
Dave: Well, He’s going to ask this of Peter three times because three times Peter denied…
Dave: …that he knew the Lord, I presume that is why; for emphasis; and if we went to the original Greek, then we see there’s a little different flavor in…
Tom: Term for love?
Dave: Right. At one point, Peter says, “Well, I am fond of You.” And Jesus wants him to come out and say he really loves Him. “Do you love Me more than these fish?” I think that’s what He’s saying, not, “Do you love Me more than these other disciples”.
“Do you love Me more than your life that you once had? Peter, remember, you said, ‘We have forsaken all to follow You,’ and now you’ve gone back to fishing again, Peter.” This was during the forty days when Jesus was showing Himself to the disciples by many infallible proofs. It’s also a public time. Jesus has already appeared personally to Peter all alone, and reconciled Peter. I’m sure Jesus has told him He forgives him and He loves him, and Peter is the one who in his first epistle, chapter 1, he talks about the trial of your faith, remember, being “much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So Peter is speaking from personal experience, but in a sense you could say he’s being humiliated. He denied Jesus publicly before the people in the high priest’s palace…
Tom: Right, but he’s also being exhorted and encouraged. “Jesus sayeth unto him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Now, Dave, there’s a couple of things I know here: our neighbors have lots of lambs, all right?
Tom: And I’m also a fisherman, and I know that our neighbors, they don’t feed their lambs fish, okay? [Chuckles] So He’s got to be talking about something very different here: “Feed my lambs.” This is our cry, our encouragement to pastors out there who, by God’s grace, they’ve been given care over lambs, over sheep. And what are they to feed them, Dave?
Dave: Well, Tom, it is so interesting that you can’t really communicate spiritual truth except with physical illustrations, because that’s all we know. And when the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8, where God said to Israel—I think we talked about this yesterday—“I led you through the wilderness to show you that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Tom, we could take off on some of the modern translations, so called—worse than that, paraphrases, or even movies that are trying to visualize…
Tom: Right. Visual translations or interpretations, so called.
Dave: …but the Scripture says, “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Well, does God have a mouth? Do we eat words? Is this physical? Not something physical. And so, when Jesus said, “Except you eat my flesh and drink my blood,” in John 6, the Catholic church says, “Oh, we’ve got to have the power to transubstantiate little wafers into the body and wine into the blood of Jesus. We’ve got to…” No.
Tom: Yeah, or consubstantiate, as Lutherans would say and...
Dave: Right. You’re missing the whole point! He is using a physical illustration to point to a spiritual truth. So when Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them, they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart,” he didn’t mean physical words. Eat the Word of God? What do we do, Tom? Let’s sit here and chew on these pages! If you swallowed the whole Bible, you would only have a stomachache, but you would have missed the spiritual truth that it’s talking about, okay? So, what He says, “Feed My lambs. Feed My sheep,” with the Word of God, with the truth of God. And I read David, for example, and he said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Think maybe you can eat God? But, Tom, as a Catholic, you know that the priest after the transubstantiation of this wafer, he holds it up, he bows down, and the people bow—this is “God,” this is their god—and he literally puts this wafer in a little tabernacle with a light burning…
Tom: Or in a monstrance on show.
Dave: Yeah, they parade it around. This is “God,” and they eat “God,” ingesting Him into their stomach—No, no, that is not what He’s talking about! You’ve missed the whole point. So, we’re speaking of spiritual truth that will feed our soul and our spirit and not our bodies, and this is the kind of food that the sheep need, and your exhortation to pastors—mine is the same—feed the sheep. Feed them with the Word of God. And yet there are many churches where you scarcely get into the Word of God. It’s a political discourse, something about the latest sociological problems, “let’s deal with that,” and the sheep are starving. And many of them aren’t sheep at all because they’ve never been given the gospel. They’ve never been given the truth of the Word of God. And so Peter is getting a word from the Lord, but it’s a word for all of us.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Verse 16, “He sayeth to him again the second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’ He sayeth unto him, ‘Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He sayeth unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” Verse 17, “He sayeth unto him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’ Peter was grieved because he said unto him a third time, ‘Lovest thou me,’ and he said unto him, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee.’ Jesus sayeth unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
Dave: Peter’s grieved. Tom, it’s amazing. You know how fervently he said to Jesus, “Though all forsake You, yet will not I. Lord, I’ll die with You, I will never forsake You.” And he does. It’s just a picture of our own hearts, Tom. I’m not going to do this in my own strength. Peter said, “Why can’t I follow you, Lord? I want to follow You! I’ll be on a cross with You!” Of course, that wouldn’t have been a good picture, would it? Peter could have thought that he was sort of paying for his sins, as well.
Dave: No, Jesus dies alone on that cross, and the cross we carry is Christ’s cross, and we fellowship with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection for our sins. But Peter, you denied the Lord three times, and now you’re upset because Jesus is just asking you three times, “Do you really love Me?” Tom, it speaks to my heart and—look, I never denied the Lord before anyone, but maybe I’ve been just a little bit shy, or a little bit embarrassed in certain company to let it be known [that] you give thanks for your food on the plane, or on the train, or you kind of do it a little bit secretly so people won’t know that you’re doing this. I remember the lady sitting next to me—I tell you, Tom, this is the most unlikely person, looked like a “madam”—and [chuckles] I said, “Do you mind if I give thanks?” They had just served us our lunch—“Do you mind if I give thanks?”
“Oh, please!” Grabs my hand and not too long, this lady is weeping—wants to know the Lord! So let’s not be ashamed of our Lord.
Tom: Let’s not be self-conscious to keep our hearts and mind on Him.