Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord
July 20 2001 by Catherine Painter , John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22

Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord | Friday, July 20, 2001

Friday, July 20, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for August 5: Following the Risen Lord

By Catherine Painter John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22 "Please, just this once, go fishing with Dad and me," Jack pleaded. I detested baiting hooks, but forsaking my philosophy: "If where I'm going isn't better than what I'm leaving, I'm staying home," I yielded.

We arrived at a borrowed, seldom-used cabin in threatening weather. Morning brought a bone-chilling rain. Claiming the weather, our clothing and the unkempt, musty cabin unsuitable, the children and I spent the day in a motel enjoying books and games I had secretly packed.

That night the men returned with a sizeable catch. The difference between the two parties was a love for fishing and a lack thereof.

Jesus Will Come to Us (John 21:1-13) Jesus called disciples away from fishing. Now, like a movie entered at some point other than its beginning, we come full circle as John records this final fishing scene.

Initially, Jesus called, "... follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). With their positive response, He transfigured their fishing skills - patience, persistence and knowledge of fish and equipment - to soul winning.

Now He calls, inviting a negative response: "Friends, haven't you any fish?" Their one-word answer, "No," reveals embarrassment. I wonder how often I, too, have fished for this thing and that thing, catching nothing.

At Jesus' direction, they cast their net on the other side and discovered the difference between success and failure is as simple as the width of the boat and Jesus in command.

Some see intentional symbolism involved. Both Latin and Greek naturalists claimed the Galilean Sea contained 153 varieties of fish - the exact number the disciples caught.

Was Jesus proclaiming His gospel to be universal and inclusive? That there is room in heaven for all willing to be caught (John 14:2-3) in a net of security that won't break (John 10:28-29)?

Did Peter drag the net to shore to show his future leadership in the church? And was Jesus assuring us that when we revert to former ways (v. 3), He provides a way of return?

Jesus Will Ask If We Love Him (John 21:15-17) True Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Ready to commit His cause to unreliable disciples and ascend to heaven, Jesus mentions nothing to discuss or clarify. He draws up no creed for their acceptance. His only foundation is "Do you love me?"

Knowing Peter's three denials will haunt him, Jesus offers three opportunities for Peter to confess Him.

Our language falls short in translating the Greek words for love. Twice Jesus asks Peter for God's deepest unconditional love (agape), but Peter responds both times offering brotherly friendship (philos).

It's the third question that reaches the heart of the gospel (v. 17). Jesus asks, in effect, "Simon, is this lower level of love the extent you can go?"

Peter answers, "Lord, you know all things. You know I love (phileo) you." Jesus, not bringing Peter to the highest level, descends to his level and commissions him: "Feed my sheep" (v. 17d).

We sense Jesus' confidence that by serving Him, Peter's love will rise to the level Jesus craves.

The Lord seeks our response to His love as well, knowing that how we love Him determines what we think of Him, what we'll do for Him and how closely we'll follow Him.

Jesus Will Challenge Us to Follow Him (John 21:18-22) When Jesus prophesies Peter's death by crucifixion, Peter glances toward John, asking, "What about him?"

Jesus replies, "...what is that to you? You follow me."

As with Peter, the issue is my love. I'm not to compare myself with others. This story grips and thrills me, for I have exposed my very soul to its truth.

On the night Jack proposed marriage, I pulled away from him and fled to my dorm, only to find God waiting on the other side of the door (Ps. 137:7-10).

I had heard other calls - to education, career, pleasure, pleasing loved ones - but none so sweet as God's call that night: "Follow me."

I banged my head against my bed, my face wet with tears. God was calling me to forsake plans and pleasures I wanted to keep, to serve where I felt unqualified, to walk where I had not intended to go.

He was calling me to feed His sheep - our future congregations - His dearest treasures for whom His Son laid down His life.

I didn't know how to feed sheep, nor had I considered the depths of my love for Christ.

I continue to stumble and fall, but like Peter, I rise again and follow.

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7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , John 21:4-7,12-13,15-22 | with 0 comments
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