Why is Peter everybody’s favourite disciple? – John 21
I'm guessing that Peter is everyone's favourite disciple. What about you? In chapter 21 of John, I'm going to give you a couple reasons why!
Greetings in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I just love God's word. I love reading it and I love seeing Jesus Christ in it. This morning we are going to read from God's Word. We are going to make some observations from the text. We are going to apply the text to our lives and we're going to close in a word of prayer.
The text that we’re reading from is John chapter 21. Hear the word of God John chapter 21 beginning at verse 1.
John 21 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
21 After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Jesus. 5 “Friends,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?” “No,” they answered. 6 “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” he told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. 7 The disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer clothing around him (for he had taken it off) and plunged into the sea. 8 Since they were not far from land (about a hundred yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus told them. 11 So Simon Peter climbed up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish—153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn 12 “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. Jesus’s Threefold Restoration of Peter 15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs,” he told him. 16 A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Shepherd my sheep,” he told him. 17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said. 18 “Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. After saying this, he told him, “Follow me.” 20 So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” 22 “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So this rumor spread to the brothers and sisters that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
There are other characters going on in the Book of John chapter 21, but really the central characters that have Peter. I want to make Observations from this text regarding Peter.
1. Peter: The Jumping Disciple
The first one is here's the disciple who jumped. From chapter 21 verse 1 through to verse 14. We know Peter well from this gospel. In chapter 6 verse 68, he's the disciple who said “Lord, who shall we follow? “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” In Chapter 13 Verse 8, it is Peter who said “You shall never wash my feet.” And Jesus said that he was going to wash the disciples’ feet. And if you do wash my feet, then wash my entire body as well. It is Peter who in that same chapter said “Lord, I will lay down my life for you.” and then denied Jesus Christ three times.
It is Peter in chapter 18 verse 10, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priests servant and cut off his right ear. Peter is the disciple with the most passion and the Love for Jesus Christ, and it's on display in this text. As the rest of the disciples excitedly recognize Jesus Christ on the shore and prepare to row the boat. Peter can't wait, hikes up the clothing that he's got on and jumps into the water to get to Jesus Christ, as soon as he possibly can.
2. Peter: The Loving Disciple
It is Peter the disciple whom Jesus loved. From his 15 to verse 17, Jesus comes to Peter 3 times. We don't see it that well in the English translations we have, but certainly in the original language, he uses two different words for love. The first word meaning, self-sacrificial love, the second word meaning brotherly love. Jesus asks Peter, Peter, Do you love me in a self-sacrificing way? Agape Love? Peter's response is, Jesus, I love you in a brotherly way. I think what's going on is Peter can’t even bring himself to acknowledge his love for Jesus Christ, because he is the disciple who denied Jesus Christ three times earlier in the narrative. A second time, Jesus comes to him and says Peter do you love me in a self-sacrificing way? And Peter's response again is, Jesus, I love you in this brotherly way, in this in this familiar type of love. The third time Jesus comes to Peter and says, do you love me? And Peter is grieved. The reason for it is this Jesus is Peter Do you love me in a brotherly type of way. It was almost as if Jesus is saying, Peter, do you even love me like you say you love me? And Peter's response is “yes Lord. The reality is Peter's restored in this three-part affirmation as Jesus Christ lovingly brings him back to himself.
3. Peter: The Dying Disciple
Peter is the jumping disciple, the loving disciple, and the dying disciple in verse 18. Jesus indicates by what kind of Death. Peter will die being stretched out. Church history will tell us that Peter was crucified and that he was crucified upside down, the blood rushing to his head dying of him haemorrhaging.
The reality is as we look at history, we find out that each and every one of the disciples, either died or were exiled for long periods of time and suffered great persecution for the simple gospel message: that Jesus died for our sins that he rose from the grave and it I mean everywhere must repent for the forgiveness of sins. The reality is the Church of Jesus Christ was seeded by the blood of the martyrs.
4. Peter: The Following Disciple
Lastly, Peter is not the just the dying, but he is called the dying disciple. Peters called to be the following disciple. In verse 19, Jesus says “follow me,” and friends, those words echo all the way down to history to every single disciple that Jesus Christ has ever called. Follow me, deny yourself, pick up your cross!
We're in application now.
So let's look at how we might apply this text.
Are you an unbeliever? At this stage, I would normally present the gospel to you; that Jesus died for your sins that he rose from the grave on the third day in victory over death and that you must repent you must turn away from your sins and put your faith and trust in him that you might live. But instead, this morning, I want to tell you to count the cost; the following Jesus Christ.
Jesus says if you desire to be my disciple, you must deny yourself pick up your cross and follow me. That meant, for Simon Peter at least, the he would die by crucifixion, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a free offer of salvation, but it's an offer that will cost us everything as we gain even more. Count the cost of following Jesus Christ, but even as you do, realise that in God's economy, this is a decision which is worth it, because it is to God's glory and for your good. “Feed my sheep”. The Sheep of God, the church, promised in the Old Testament, belongs to Jesus Christ for he is indeed the great Shepherd that is foretold in the Old Testament. When we read in Ezekiel chapter 34, the imagery of God being the Shepherd, or when we talk about Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” We're speaking about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Put your faith and trust in him that you might live.
Are you a backslider reading this text? At some stage you professed Jesus Christ and yet you're living in sin? Friend, look at the example of Peter and see restoration, that it is possible. Again, repent of your sins turn from them and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ that you might live.
Are you a new convert take a look at Peter hiking up his clothes and diving into the sea of Tiberius and coming ashore as quickly as you possibly can to see Jesus Christ, his Lord and his Saviour. Friends, the Christian faith is not a stoic faith, it is not a dry history book faith. The Christian faith is one of love for Jesus Christ. We need Peters in the church; people who are passionate about Jesus Christ and love him and follow him gladly and joyfully and wilfully and passionately.
Let's closed in a word of prayer.
Father God in heaven, we do thank you for Peter and we thank you for the example that he sets, for John and for the recording of his Gospel. Lord God, would you help us to see Jesus Christ clearly in this text and in this gospel that we might be impassioned for him, the Son of God, that we might grow in faith and that we might live out our lives to his praise and to his Glory. This I pray in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
May Lord God bless you this day.