A Disciple After God’s Own HeartJohn 21:1-19Theme: Yes, Lord!In this week’s lessons, Dr. Philip Ryken teaches us about restoration and obedience.
LessonThe wise shepherd will be helped in this task if he remembers that the people he feeds are the lambs of Christ. Did you notice how Jesus reminds Peter that the people he will feed are the Lord’s own people? “Feed my lambs,” he said to Peter. “Feed my sheep.” The flock is always Christ’s own flock. Consider for a moment the great lengths to which Jesus has gone to claim his sheep for his own. These sheep have been purchased with his own blood. He has paid for their sins with his own life – his sacrifice for their sins. He has truly been the Good Shepherd because he has laid down his life for his sheep, rescuing them from sin and death. So Jesus has the right to remind Peter that the sheep he is called to feed are still Jesus’ own sheep.
Many who have entered pastoral ministry don’t really seem to understand that they shepherd flocks that do not belong to them. For the minister after God’s own heart, it can never simply be “My congregation this…” or “My church that…” It is always the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I find that I take better care of things that do not belong to me, especially if they are valuable. When I returned to United States after living in England for some time, I became a serious motorist because I was driving a car that did not belong to me. In the same way, to remember that the flock of Christ is really the flock of Christ is to become a serious minister. I certainly don’t mean a joyless minister, but a serious minister, nonetheless.
To remember that the sheep of the flock belong to Christ is to be that much more zealous to seek the lost sheep, that much more patient to guide the wayward sheep, that much more compassionate to heal the wounded sheep, that much more diligent to feed the healthy sheep, that much more steadfast to love all the sheep. The minister after God’s own heart has a shepherd’s heart for the Good Shepherd’s sheep. He has God’s own heart for God’s own sheep. Wise ministers will take to heart such reminders to feed the flock of Christ, to feed them as they belong to Christ.
If you are wise, then you will pray for the men who feed Christ’s flock, that they may continue to be shepherds after God’s own heart. You will do well in your own life to remember that the Church is really the flock of Christ. How much love would there be among us if we remembered how much the Lord loves our brothers and sisters, how much he has done for them? I find this thought to be the best antidote for my impatience, or resentment, or even anger, with another believer. Before such evil thoughts begin to take control of your heart, take a moment to remind yourself how much the Lord must love that person, that he should die for his or her sins, and make that person his own son or daughter, and call him or her by name. Your heart may yet soften when you remember that your sister or brother belongs to Christ.
So we see that the heart of the disciple is filled with love for Christ, and the task of the disciple is to feed Christ’s flock. Finally, the cost to the disciple is living for Christ unto death. Jesus doesn’t end his conversation with Peter on a very cheery note, does he? He said, “I 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” (John 21:18). That’s not the kind of verse you’re likely to find on a poster at your local Christian bookshop. Not the kind of verse that many Christians have chosen as their life verse. “When you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you.” It hardly seems like the right thing to say, hardly like the best way to inspire a disciple to a life of loving service.
Well might we wonder what Jesus is going on about here, had the Holy Spirit not given John the insight to write down the true interpretation of this verse. “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God” (John 21:19). And then it all becomes so clear, doesn’t it? We are reminded here of Jesus’ teaching about the cost of being one of his disciples.
To whom do the sheep ultimately belong?
Why does Jesus tell Peter the way that he (Peter) was to die?
ReflectionAre you as glad that God has forgiven the sins of your brothers and sisters as you are that he has forgiven yours?
PrayerDo you pray for your pastor(s)? Ask him what specific ways you can pray for him.