For some time now, we’ve shared what I call Hisbits, bits of history, that showcase how interesting the subject is. Adventures such as how a Japanese ambassador saved thousands of Jewish lives in World War II. Now, these stories are in our first Hisbits eBook @ www.amazon.com/author/pruittwrites.
We hope you take a minute to visit it, and our other eBooks, as well as paperbacks, and that you find something which interests you. PruittWrites is about adding value through words and pictures. So we hope you find some value in our site, and products.
The following is a sermon that I was honored to preach at our home Church Point Of Mercy, in Nashville, while our Pastor Denny Livingston was ministering at our sister Church in Bristol, Virginia. I hope it blesses you.
John 21:1515 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
I love this chapter, and I’ve been fascinated by it for years, and have even preached on it before, but The Lord gave me something on it last week, on a trip by myself, or rather just Him and I. We forget that the Christian walk is not a solitary one, it’s a journey of two, The Lord Jesus and ourselves.
No matter how large the group, or what is going on, He is able to turn it very quickly, into a two way conversation. That’s what He did with Simon Peter in this passage. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but I do want to say, Simon’s motives in this chapter have been examined time and again.
Many have said, “he went fishing for this reason, or that reason”, but I have a different opinion. In Matthew 28:10, The Lord tells the Disciples that He will see them in Galilee. In Mark 16:7, the Angel at the tomb says, “Go tell His Disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.”
The first verse of John 21 tells us that this was the third time He had appeared unto them after the Resurrection. So, this wasn’t a backslidden, or guilt ridden Simon that was in the water. This was a Simon expecting to see Jesus.
If you were Simon, what would you do while you were waiting? My opinion is, that He positioned himself in a place where He knew The Lord had met them before. Pastor Jason preached about the walk on the sea, and Pastor has preached on how God positioned them on the sea in the boat alone until He appeared at the exact time of their necessity.
It’s my opinion, that Simon wasn’t forcing God’s hand, but working and waiting with expectancy. Jesus, this time, isn’t in the boat, and He doesn’t walk on the sea. Instead, when the morning arrives, He stands on the shore, and calls them.
I want to pause this scene, for a few minutes. We will come back to it. For a moment, I want you to imagine another scene.
The trumpet has sounded, the dead in Christ have risen, and you are among them. No more worries, no more pain. You attend the Great Reunion, and The Marriage Supper of The Lamb. It’s after this meal, that I want you to imagine a conversation, not between The Lord and Simon, but between Jesus and you.
This is where the title of the message comes in, and the heart of it. Three Questions From Jesus. He looks at you, smiles, and asks three very personal questions.
- What did you do for me?
- What did you build for me?
- Who did you reach for me?
Understand, much like the conversation between Simon and Jesus, it’s not a fault finding one. It is designed to make us think yes, but to inspire us, and not to condemn. God knows the answer to all before He asks, but He wants you to answer the questions.
What Did You Do For Me?
The first one, I wanted to say what have you done for The Kingdom, but it was meant to be a personal question. What we do for The Kingdom, we do for Jesus, that’s the heart of Matthew 25.
What did you do for me? Today, you’re mind is racing, there it will be clear. Today, you think more of all the times you feel you failed, but that’s not His intention.
The purpose of these questions is the same as the questions for Simon, perspective. Jesus said, “Occupy til I come”, and occupying is distracting. This world tries to get us so focused on what we’re doing, that we forget Who we are doing it for.
Every action of a Christian is an act of love to God. All those prayers you prayed, the ones that felt dry as dust, and the prayers where Heaven seemed to come down, they are a part of what you do for Him.There is no such thing as being alone in prayer, for their is always the partitioner, and The Hearer.
I understand that prayer does more for us than it does for Him, but that is true of so many things. As Ministers, we are always saying that God should receive the glory, and I wonder if, sometimes, we give the wrong impression of Him.
God is not an egocentric being. He does not seek glory the way a celebrity may check their Instagram feed, or their fan base. Jesus isn’t needing handclaps, or pats on the back to reassure Him.
His Glory is transformative, not for Him, He is unchanging, but for all those who come in contact with His Glory. It is His Glory that transformed Moses the stutterer to Moses the writer of Genesis through Deuteronomy.
2 Corinthians 3:18
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
So, we do not worship a needy God, we worship a selfless God. One who has designed, even His praise, to impact those that give it, more than Him, the recipient of it.
Just as His Glory is something that He does for us, what we do pursuing Him, He recognizes as something we do for Him. When a child does something for you, something that you have taught them, kindness for example, they’re doing it for you, not just because they were taught to do it.
They do it, not out of obligation, but out of love. The intent of the act, even if directed towards the instructor of the act. We don’t view it as I taught them that, we view it as, they did that for me. Jesus is a Good, Good Father, and He sees it this way too.
Imagine Jesus saying “What did you do for me Lucian?” For one thing, he and Nikki have raised two children that love Jesus. I watch Preston, and when the music is playing, he responds to it, not out of obligation, but out of love for God.
They placed that gift in his heart, through their gift of love to God. When we ask for something, and He says no, and we still trust, that shows our love.
Even when we didn’t quite get the answer we expected, instead of being silent, or being angry, and we continue to pray, Jesus looks on that with love. His children seek Him, regardless of the answer. That touches His heart, and it strengthens our, and other’s faith in the process.
Imagine a rich man with children. Now imagine he loses all his wealth, and his children still adore him. They don’t love because of his riches, but because of his relationship.
If we view what we do as only actions, then it takes the relationship out of it. It’s easier not to pray, when we look at it as only an act, and not a conversation. When we view attendance to Church as a trip, instead of a meeting with The One we love most, it’s easier to miss.
When we are reminded that our daily actions are acts of love, and not merely acts, it changes everything we do. Going to work becomes more than earning a living, it’s being a light in someone else’s wilderness. Remembering that you are Jesus’ arms and legs makes it easier to be patient with that person who drives you crazy, or attacks you.
What Did You Build For Me?
The first question leads into the second, “What did you build for Me?” One is about relationship, the next is about commitment. Notice He didn’t ask what have you built for Me, but what did you build for Me? Built is past tense, build is a present act.
Whatever work you construct for God, if out of love, is never past tense. There are times in your life you may view as failures, battles you feel didn’t succeed. He doesn’t see them that way.
The scholar said, prayers out live the person who prays them. They are always constant, always thriving, Revelation says He keeps our prayers in golden vials. God said that our prayers are sweet odors to God, like incense.
Every sacrifice, every time you chose to follow through, God counted it as another layer on your ministry. What ever you are facing today, no matter how little situations and circumstances have made you seem in your own eyes, know this. God does not view you that way. He sees you as the builder of a great work for God.
David couldn’t build Solomon’s Temple, but he did pitch the tabernacle of David. It may not have seemed as grand as what Solomon had, but it was in David’s tent, that God promised one day to sit on David’s throne.
Don’t look at your work for God through your eyes, view it through His. Don’t listen to the whispers that say you’re a failure. Listen to Jesus’ words to Simon, I’m going before you, and I’ll see you there.
I admit, I struggle here. I view what little I’ve done for God, and compared to so many others, it seems small and fragile. Don’t despise the day of small things. It was a small act that caused Noah to find Grace in the eyes of The Lord, but He did.
The Bible doesn’t say what caused Noah to find Grace in the sight of The Lord. Most likely, it was the daily faithfulness of a soul that loved God. A consistent, loving relationship builds a life that is an example to others.
Who Did You Reach For Me?
Jesus’ last question, “Who did you reach for Me?” As you think about this last question, let’s return for a minute to the scene on shore of Galilee, because it’s that question, that aligns these two scenarios.
Pastor Jason taught us of Simon’s struggle on the sea Pre-Calvary, “If it’s you, bid me to join you.” This time, post Calvary, in John 21, He doesn’t ask if it’s Jesus, and He doesn’t ask to be invited. He jumps out of the ship to get to shore.
At the same time, He didn’t know that it was Jesus, John had to tell him. You won’t get everything right, we’ll miss a few things. It’s not what we miss that we must focus on, it’s on Him, and He will make up the difference.
Simon doesn’t worry about how far from shore he is, or anything like that. Granted there’s no storm now, on the sea, or in Simon Peter. He isn’t worried about getting overwhelmed by the waves, or engulfed in the cares of a business that is no longer his.
He is in the world of his former career, but not a part of it. The fish he’s carrying now, he’s not bringing to sell. He’s taking them to Jesus. Don’t worry about getting overwhelmed by the cares of life, as long as your focus on The One who cares for your life.
Others call it the Sea of Galilee, John called it the sea of Tiberius, it wasn’t because he was a good Roman. Tiberius is latin for the river-god. Peter’s God conquered the river, Simon was in it, but not of it! The affairs of this life do not control us. We may be in the world, but we’re not of it.
Simon, son of Jonah, runs to Jesus. Everything behind him, his past, and all the complications that surrounded him, didn’t matter. He was running to The One that had changed his life, and would transform it from glory to glory.
Jesus stands on the shore this time, and waits for them to join Him. He doesn’t walk on the water, He doesn’t ride with them in the boat. Instead, He calls and waits. Much like our walks, and the scene of Heaven, we are on this side, and He is at the shore, at the breaking of day.
They’ve experienced Calvary, and an empty tomb. Their darkest fears gave way to their greatest joy, much like ours will on that day. Their eyes were now open to so many things, and they didn’t miss the lesson that Jesus taught them that day.
In the midst of a crowd, Jesus turns it into a two way conversation. Jesus looks at Simon, I think we Ministers have been so intent on the words, that we’ve ignored the setting.
“Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me? Feed my lambs, do you love Me, feed my sheep, and again, do you love Me, feed my sheep.” Those are His words, but look at what He had done. Before they get to shore, Jesus doesn’t just tell them to cast their nets. He says, “Children, have ye any meat?”
Then He invites them to dine, and in verse 13, He gives them both bread and fish, off of coals that He had prepared for them. After all of these Fatherly actions, is when He has the conversation with Simon Peter.
The words are important, but so is the setting. Feed my people like lambs, take care of the each other. I believe Jesus is talking about three groups, those He had physically brought together in His earthly ministry were the lambs.
Simon was going to be a leader among them, that meant, He would care and watch out for them during the transition period. Paul said, how much more should we care for the household of Faith? We are called to minister to the world, but we are called to start with our house.
The time you spend encouraging a brother or sister, a text, or a phone call, that is feeding them. Jesus is no respecter of persons, lambs represent new believers, and those that are precious to the Shepherd. There are none more precious to The Shepherd, than the lambs of His flock.
Like Martha, we’re juggling so many things, but I want to encourage you to take some time, and invest in your brothers and sisters. I see people that have done this all the time I’ve known them.
Sis Pat’s heart has always been in serving others, and she doesn’t know it, but that service is evident to a whole new generation. The guys don’t say much, and they don’t point it out, but they show up at that kitchen on Sunday mornings at just the right time. Sis Pat is working for the Church, but she can’t carry what she used to, so I’ll help out.
As she takes care of us, others are seeking to care for her. It’s the cycle that Jesus illustrated to the disciples by serving them that morning. It’s the example He expected them to follow, and the one that we should strive for. People of like Precious Faith caring for each other, because to care for each other, is to care for Him.
Next, He looks and says, “feed my sheep.” The Jews, and all those Simon would speak to at Pentecost, they needed to be fed. God will call you to feed people that have hated you, hurt you, and hindered you.
He’s not concerned with their actions, Jesus wants you to act the way He did on the cross. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The people Simon was afraid to face before Calvary, He boldly declared in front of afterwards.
God’s desire is to place reassurance in your heart, clarity in your mind, and boldness in your spirit. A boldness that feeds a starving and hurting world with God’s love.
The Lord said at one point, “Other sheep have I not of this fold.” This meant not of Israel, it was Simon who would be called to first witness to Cornelius and the Gentiles. Simon struggled with that at first, but He loved Jesus enough to trust and go.
God won’t only call you to minister to those who’ve hurt you. He’ll call you to step out of your comfort zone, and to reach people that you have never come in contact with before. Calvary wasn’t a comfort zone for Jesus, but it brought us into a place of comfort, greater than we had ever known. He calls on us to bring His comfort to others, even in bad places.
He will place you into positions and locations that you never thought you would face. People that seem strange to you, and have a completely foreign viewpoint from everything you know. Some times, it will involve you being in a painful place or situation. Easy places aren’t where lost sheep find themselves, and neither do the instruments of rescue The Shepherd uses.
It won’t be easy, but keep in mind, Who you’re doing it for, and why. You’re doing it because you love Jesus, and the why is because He doesn’t want anyone to be lost.
The word that fascinates me in this conversation, is one little word, these. I’ve read different commentators give their opinion of what these Jesus was talking about. Frankly I’m not sure about what Simon’s these exactly was, but what is your these this morning.
Yes we love Him, yes we work for Him, and yes, we seek to reach others for Him, but in this day of everything pulling at us. Do we love Him more than our “these”. Do I love Him more than I worry about my bills?
Do we pursue Him more than we pursue our business, or our education? I said this wasn’t a message to make you feel bad, and it isn’t. Jesus only said “these” once, and everything else three times, but He did say it.
Simon didn’t wrestle with the first or the second question, but he did the third. Is it possible that Jesus was prophetically alluding ahead to Acts 10, when He called Simon Peter to reach out to the Gentiles? He wrestled with that as well.
Much like he struggled with Jesus asking him the third time, but we know in both instances, He followed through. What are you wrestling with today? What has God called you to do, that you’re struggling in, or wrestling with doing?
While you’re wrestling, remember this. He wouldn’t place you in the arena with someone you couldn’t defeat. He would never ask you to do something that you couldn’t do. He was The One who placed fish and bread in Simon’s hands, and then told Him to feed His sheep.
Jesus, as Pastor so beautifully preached, empowers us to reach others. If you feel led to do something, pray about it, seek counsel. If it matches the book, and after a conversation with God, you still aren’t sure, talk to Pastor, or Pastor Jason, get perspective from God’s leaders. Then, at the right time, act without allowing your fear to swallow your faith.
Remember, you’re not doing this alone, and you’re not doing this for yourself. You are doing this for Jesus. You are building something for Him, and it’s designed to reach out to others for Him.
The call may be difficult, and painful, but it’s also the point of breakthrough. Once Jesus had asked the third question, He made a statement. Jesus told Simon, not just how he would die, but by what death would glorify God, then He said “Follow Me.”
Strange topic switch, until you align the settings. This wasn’t a prophecy by someone who had never faced death, or who had never gave Himself for others. This was The Victor telling His son how He would pass from the sea of life to the shore of Heaven, and that he wouldn’t do so empty handed.
Simon carried one hundred and fifty three fish that Jesus had placed in his net to shore, he would keep what God had entrusted him with. Once before, the net began to break, this time it didn’t.
You may have made mistakes before, so had Simon Peter, but not this time. This time was different, this time the net didn’t break. Don’t allow your present, to be dictated by your past. Trust in God, ask for His help with your doubts, and your fears. This time your net doesn’t have to break. The net didn’t break for him, and it won’t for you. You won’t show up empty handed.
Something else. Jesus said, “Come and dine”, that word, while translated dine, also specifically references two periods of eating, dinner yes, but also breakfast in particular. They had toiled all night, but in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore with a breakfast fit for His Children.
We call the great reunion feast in Revelation, The Marriage Supper Of The Lamb, and it is, but it’s also the first meal of a brand new day. One that will be spent with The One we have given all for. The One we do for, build for, and share with others.
Michael was on the phone with his fiancé, breaking the news. Sam was listening to Otecko talking about motive. “With the court case, they should have kept him alive, unless they thought they would lose. If they thought that, why sue to start with?”
Sam shook his head. “I agree, but also, Rastilav may have forced the lawsuit if he thought he’d lose. It would have been a way to flush out the real threat.” He paused a minute. “You’re right, I don’t believe it either. The question is what forced them to kill him.”
Michael walked back in a half hour later, and we asked how his fiancé was. “She’s coping, but also she gave me something. Apparently her Uncle text her before he died, two words, Charles University.”
When I asked what that meant, Sam answered. “It means Michael and I are going to Prague. So are you two. How do you feel about possibly opening a branch of Stefaniak’s in a college town?”
I frowned. “Make some money, and walk into a death trap. I’ll do it, but forgive me for my lack of excitement.” Otecko laughed, and pointed at Sam and Michael. “Don’t worry Tomás. You pour, they’ll shoot, and we’ll shut them down.”