Text: John 21
21 Portraits of Jesus in John's Gospel

What motivates you? A naval chaplain who normally had 100 people in his congregation on Sunday was astonished one Sunday to be greeted by 1900 worshipers. What caused the difference? Well, these sailors were given the opportunity to witness the bombing of an island a an atomic bomb was dropped. The military intelligence wanted to see how much damage would occur.

Those who witnessed the event say they were astonished to behold the disappearance of the island. When the smoke cleared, all they could see was a 2 ½ mile wide hole in the sea. They were motivated by that destructive power to look to God in worship. The simple preaching and teaching of the Word of God ought to motivate people to worship. In our text, we can make note of several commands. Every command of our Lord should motivate us; for Jesus is the Motivating One.

I.    The Motivating One Commands: "Cast Your Net" verse 6 
The motivating one gives a command related to Lordship in our daily work. These men were fisherman. Jesus had called several of them away from the fishing industry. He had told these fisherman, "...follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." But not fully understanding the death and resurrection of the Lord they had gone back to an old way of life. They knew the fishing trade and had done their best but had not caught any fish all night. Jesus said, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.

We can easily make the application here that all Christians are to be fishers of men. We are all to cast our nets. The Lord of the harvest knows where the fish are for his trained fishermen. In the course of your every day life you are to be fishing for the lost. Just because the Lord commanded it should be motivation enough. But follow on to verse 10.

II.    The Motivating One Commands us to "Fetch Our Catch" 
The Motivating One gives a command for us to be involved in discipleship. We are not to catch fish for sport. It is not an end in itself just to catch fish, we must bring some of them along with us. It should be our desire to bring all to a maturity in Christ. But just as we don't catch all we fish for, we won't "bring" all we catch to a place of real discipleship.

The Lord commands us to take seriously the conservation of those we catch. Some have been called dip and drop ministries because they seem to only be involved in winning and baptizing converts without any attempt toward growth. That is not fishing like the Lord demands. He tells
us where the fish are and how to draw them into usefulness. The great commission commands us to "...make disciples..." This really is the only command for the Lord emphasized as you are going into all the world "...make disciples..." Now notice verse 12.

III.    The Motivating One Commands: "Come and Dine" verse 12 
You see to further spiritualize this text it is not enough to catch fish or draw them into the nets and bring them along with you. We are to "...come and dine...". No ministry is an end in itself. Fishing all night was making you weary, but coming to the Lord and just dining with Him can rejuvenate you, so you have a desire to go back to fishing and discipling.

Do you really enjoy the Christian life? The Lord wants us to. Can you say and really mean it? I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord. I'd like to have a bumper sticker that said "I'd rather be in church". Yes, we are to come and dine. Not so we might just become fat cats of couch potatoes, but that we might be strengthened for the task before us.

Recently I called a minister friend. His name is Clyde Oster. It was mid-Saturday afternoon when I called and he took a long time to get to the phone. I asked if he was napping. He said, "No, I'm reading the Bible." And I can recall getting the same answer from Clyde on many occasions. So I asked him, "What is your plan for Bible reading?" He said for 40 years I've been reading the Bible through each year. At Christmastime I buy myself a brand new Bible and read through it that next year. What a plan to "Come and Dine".

Come and dine suggests a priority for a close fellowship with the Lord. I pray regularly the words in the book of James found in chapter four, verses seven through ten. Verse eight says, "Draw near unto God and He will draw near unto you,..." There must be a desire for a closeness to the Lord. When we hear His "Come and Dine" we should eagerly respond. Look further in your Bible to verses 15, 16, and 17.

IV.    The Motivating One Commands the Shepherding of the Lambs and Sheep verse 15-17 
The simile changes from fish and fishermen to that of sheep and shepherds. In these verses there are very interesting interactions of words. The Lord commands Simon to feed (BOSKE) the lambs, shepherd (POIMAINE) the sheep and to feed (BOSKE) the sheep. He uses a different word for lamb (APNIA) than He does for sheep (PROBATIA).

There is some contrast of words related to love. Jesus asked Simon if he loved (AGAPAS) Him more than these. Simon said "... you know that I love (PHILO) you." Jesus had asked Simon do you have the highest kind of love for me? Simon answered Lord I have a friend-for-friend kind of love. When the Lord said , "...more than these..." three suggestions are offered as to what "...more than these..." refers. First it may refer to Simon's claim that although all the other disciples may fall away he would never deny the Lord. Secondly, it may be do you love me more than these friends of yours, these fellow disciples. Thirdly, do you love me more than these fishing things, this old way of life, this occupation? I believe it refers to Simon's boast that he would never deny the Lord. But the Lord asks Simon a second time do you love (AGAPAS) me and he drops the phrase "...more than these..." Simon once again says, " know I love (PHILO) you." Then a third time Jesus asks about love but changes His word. He seems to be saying "Simon do you really love (PHILO) me on this friend-to-friend plane?" Simon was grieved by the words of the Lord but answered, "...Lord, you know all the things; you know that I love you."

These words ought to motivate us just as they no doubt motivated Simon and the disciples. The commands to Simon should also be taken as commands to us. First feed the lambs. Lambs represent the new converts, the fish that have just been caught. Lambs cannot feed themselves properly; they must be guided along. This once again speaks to discipling. Secondly, the Lord commands shepherd the sheep. The sheep need one to guide them. In the 23rd Psalm the Lord as shepherd makes the sheep lie down is green pastures, leads them beside quiet waters, restores their soul, and guides them in paths of righteousness. Surely He should be our model and motivation for shepherding. Thirdly, the command is to feed the sheep. This causes differences of opinion in interpretation. Some one like B.H. Carrol takes his to mean feed the weak sheep. The sheep who do not experience normal or expected growth. Trench sites comments to support the idea that feeding the sheep should never be put secondary to shepherding. The church is to shepherd. The pastor is to shepherd but not in such a way that feeding the sheep has a lesser emphasis. Let's go on to verse 22.

IV.    The Motivating One Commands: "Follow Me" verse 19 and 22 
Perhaps this command represents the bottom line for all the other commands. If we really follow the Lord we must be willing to obey His commands. Earlier in this series I repeated these remarks that placed all Christianity in three stages. The first stage is the "come unto me" stage. Secondly, there is the "follow me" stage and last the " abide in me" stage. It certainly could be argued you will never abide if you don't follow.

Simon was told what kind of death he would die verse 18 and 19. He then questions what kind of death John would die. Basically the Lord told him, "That's none of your business. You follow me." The book of John ends and Simon becomes the preacher of the day of Pentecost. He was following the Lord. They told Peter and John not to preach in the mane of Jesus. Simon with John said, "...we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20) He was following the Lord.

As the Lord had prophesied, someone led Simon one day to a place he really didn't want to go. You see tradition says Simon was put to death by crucifixion. However, Simon supposedly said, "Don't crucify me like my Lord but place my cross upside down. If in that position Jesus had asked Simon, "Do you love me on the highest plane?" I think he could have answered, "Yes Lord, I am pleased to say I love you on the highest plane."

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And Beyond.    Amen?    Amen!