Sunday 24th April 2022

Reading: John 21:15-23

A short reflection 3+3=FREE

The disciple John has shared so many moving moments with Jesus. Some of the most private thinking and emotion has been shared in the gospel narrative. He was blessed to be with the others on the mountain of transfiguration in that moment the revelation of the Messianic Jesus was revealed alongside the laws and the prophets, thus completing their own scriptures. He witnessed the raising power of Jesus as he brought the daughter of Jairus back to life. And then as the end drew ever closer he was there on that fateful night in the garden of Gethsemane. John witnessed the arrest, the trials and the execution and was among the first to learn of the resurrection. Throughout the gospel we witness the journey of John and his deepening faith. And here toward the end he writes of another disciple, Peter. It truly is amongst the most beautiful conversations you will read anywhere in any form of literature. The same question is asked three times. Painful for Peter as they recall his three times denial of Jesus. But by the end of this conversation Peter will come to be restored and empowered. 3+3=FREE.

Denial number one. ‘You are not one of his disciples, are you?’ ‘I am not.’ The first reinstatement. ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes Lord’ then ‘Feed my lambs’ Denial number two. ‘You are not one of his disciples, are you?’ ‘I am not.’ The second reinstatement. ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?’ ‘Yes Lord’ then ‘Take care of my sheep.’ Denial number three. ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?’ Again Peter denied it and at that moment a cock began to crow. The third reinstatement. ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ ‘Feed my sheep’ The reference to ‘these’ in that first reinstatement is Jesus asking Peter do you love me more than these other disciples. His actions had not attested to this in the denials. Peter knew he had failed his Lord. He had experienced that moment of weakness. From here we are taken on a short journey through this conversation as each reinstatement moves Peter and the people one stage further along life’s path. ‘Feed my lambs’; ‘Take care of my sheep.’; ‘Feed my sheep’ Peter had been forgiven and reinstated by Jesus. Those three instructions Peter received are meant for our ears too. Those who are new to the faith need to be fed by the truth of the gospel story which is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Treated as lambs until they grow and mature in faith and then it is the job of disciples to take care of these sheep. But there is still a need for the sheep to be fed. Not all disciples will be called to be leaders but all are called to care for and feed the sheep. The way the questions are asked of Peter highlights the most basic principle throughout all of this Gospel. From the coming of the word made flesh in chapter one to the rising on Easter Sunday and this reinstating of Peter in this final chapter. The question Jesus asks three times is, ‘do you love me?’ There we have it brothers and sisters in Christ. The gospel message is the message of love. ‘do you love me?’ ‘Follow me.’ The call was, is not, ‘receive me, or believe in me’ The call was and is, ‘do you love me?’ ‘Follow me.’

The Gospel of John – the journey

I am going to close this morning focusing on the journey we have been through in John’s gospel since January and like the gospel itself our end point is that we should know more about Jesus, his disciples, his enemies, his sayings than when we set out. Just as John writes about those who shared in the earthly ministry of Jesus having highs and lows, moments of great deep faith and times when faith waivered these are all things that communities of faith everywhere will experience on their journey. Let’s look at some of the things we have focused on during our journey.

The journey begins as Jesus calls the first of his disciples.

The first miracle or as John calls them signs of the Messiah.

The one who came that many may be saved.

Some of the most meaningful teaching ever heard.

Even at what feels like the end the journey will go on.

The man of prayer in constant touch with the Father.

The cheering crowds gathered, the other crowd waited their chance.

The bowl, the wine, the arrest, the betrayal by his own.

The death of innocence at the hands of evil.

The raising of innocence over the work of evil.

The final word John21:24&25.

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written

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