The Gospel of John
1. This will be my final message in this series in the Gospel of John. I would like to preach tonight on following Jesus.
2. The Bible teaches that if you are not winning souls then you are not following Jesus, because Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).
3. Somewhere, I do not know exactly where, I’d like to have that Scripture featured prominently in this old fish market.
4. John 21 deals with the post-resurrection ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. And John 21 deals with the public restoration of Simon Peter.
5. Peter failed the Lord. He denied the Lord three times. But he got right with the Lord and the Lord used him. He dominates the first half of the book of Acts.
6. Back in Luke 5:10, our Lord said to Peter, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.” And Peter did. He caught many men.
7. Peter preached that great message on the Day of Pentecost and about 3,000 souls were saved. Peter wrote two epistles.
8. Peter got off track, but he was restored and he went back to following Jesus. I am going to preach again tonight on following Jesus (John 21:19, 22), and I have entitled tonight’s message, “Following Jesus All the Way.”
I. FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS GIVING UP THE OLD LIFE
1. After catching a huge net full of fish, our Lord said to His disciples, “Come and dine” (John 21:12).
2. During dinner, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (21:15). There is some speculation as to what our Lord meant by “these” but I think He was referring to Peter’s boats and fishing nets.
3. Fishing had been Peter’s occupation (cf. Matt. 4:18-20). He gave it up to follow the Lord (Matt. 4:20), but now we see Peter and several other disciples going fishing on the Sea of Galilee (21:1-3).
4. The Bible does not say that Peter intended to abandon preaching and resume his career as a fisherman, and we do not want to read more into the text than God has revealed to us.
5. However, the fact that Peter, an experienced fisherman, “caught nothing” (21:3) is interesting. It was not long ago that our Lord had told His disciples, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
6. Back when the Lord first called Peter, He said to him, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).
7. So now the Lord had to gently remind Peter, and He does so by asking, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (21:15).
8. The Lord was reminding Peter that it was time to give up his boat and to give up his fishing equipment, and to give up anything and everything that was hindering Peter from following Jesus.
9. To love the Lord supremely means you have to give up the old life. To follow the Lord all the way means to give up the world with all its charms and all its pleasures.
10. For some people this may mean giving up a job or a career. For others it may be a fishing boat, or a house, or a car or perhaps a relationship.
11. Sometimes it means giving up something that is in our sight quite small and inconsequential – some little hobby, some toy, some habit – perhaps a little compromise that the Lord is unhappy about.
12. Our Lord says, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (21:15). More than your bank account, more than your portfolio, more than your nice comfortable standard of living?
13. More than these worldly TV shows, more than these wicked rock and roll tapes and CD’s, more than these stylish but immodest dress styles, more than these nasty cigarettes, more than these bottles of beer in the refrigerator?
14. A pastor down in Texas had a member who owned a jewelry store. One day this preacher stopped by the store and noticed a fancy diamond ring. As he was admiring this pretty ring the owner told him it was worthless.
15. “Worthless?” the preacher asked. “Yes, worthless,” the jeweler said. “Pick it up and look at it.”
16. The preacher picked it up and this is what he said later on, “I picked it up and saw that it had coal specks all through it. The diamond was practically worthless. That is the way with so many Christian lives. They have dark spots, coal spots, carbon spots in them. What otherwise could be a magnificent witness for the Lord is ruined by some little worldly practice. To love Jesus supremely means to give it up” (W A Criswell, With A Bible In My Hand).
17. So the first step in following Jesus all the way is to give up the old life. Peter learned this lesson that day by the Sea of Galilee. Peter went back to preaching the Gospel and winning souls. In Acts 3 we find him entering the temple when a lame man asked him for money. Peter said to the man, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6).
18. Peter gave up his old life. He had no silver and no gold but he had something far greater. He was following Jesus all the way.
II. FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY
1. Let us get back to our text. Peter answered our Lord, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:15). Note that our Lord did not ask Peter, “Peter, do you love me?” No. Jesus said, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
2. Many church-goers (and some only attend church occasionally, when they feel like it) – multitudes of nominal Christians will tell you that they love Jesus.
3. But Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
4. To follow the Lord all the way, and to truly the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, means to accept responsibility. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs” (21:15b).
5. This was a sacred trust – “Feed my lambs” (21:15b). He was not only to be a fisher of men, but a feeder of sheep.
6. I hear about pastors who seldom win souls. They say, “God called me to feed His sheep.” Yes, but if you do not go out and win souls before you know it there will not be any sheep left to feed!
7. Yes, pastors must feed the sheep. But we must not neglect winning souls. The Bible says, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Pro. 11:30).
8. Our Lord was telling Peter, “You say you love me, then feed my lambs (young sheep)” (21:15). Peter was given an important responsibility – to take care of the Lord’s sheep (21:15-17).
9. It is interesting that first our Lord says, “Feed my lambs,” and then He says, “Feed my sheep” (21:16, 17). In building a church we have to start with the youngsters. That is why we put so much emphasis on Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School, and children’s church, and our nursery.
10. Children are more receptive to the Gospel. We must do more to reach them.
11. I was listening to a preaching CD yesterday and the preacher (Clarence Sexton) said only 2 out of 10 children in America attend any kind of church.
12. That is a frightening statistic. I would love to buy an old bus or a 15-passenger van and fill it up with kids and bring them here to Sunday School every week but we cannot do that unless we have members who are willing to follow Jesus all the way.
13. Children are the future of this church. And too many children are growing up in the church and then going to the devil because their parents are not following Jesus all the way!
14. For example, the teenage years are critical in preparing young people for adulthood. Yet many parents enroll their teenagers in ungodly public schools; they allow them to hang around with worldly companions; they let them listen to garbage rock music and garbage rap music; and so on.
15. Then when they get ready to go to college you never see them in church anymore. They’re very comfortable hanging around with the devil’s crowd. They start dating heathens and they show no evidence of ever being born again.
16. We older folks are responsible for the generation that is coming up after us – especially our own children. Following Jesus all the way means accepting that responsibility.
17. Some Christians will accept no responsibility in church. They say, “My only responsibility is to keep my chair warm! I’m an excellent chair-warmer! I will not work as an usher or SS teacher or nursery worker. I will not go out soulwinning. I will not tithe, etc.”
18. Brother, Sister, may God help you to recognize your backslidden condition! Following Jesus means accepting responsibility. God has a job for each and every one of us. Some people cannot preach but they can make this place look nice and clean for others when they come to hear the Word of God preached.
19. Some people can clean; some can work in the nursery; some can help out with the ushering and counting the offering. Personally I do not like looking at the offering. It breaks my heart when I see how many people do not tithe!
20. Some one has rightly said that there are many stones in the foundation of the church that you do not see, but these stones are holding up the church.
21. Find your place of service and get busy serving the Lord. Following Jesus means accepting responsibility.
III. FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS BEING FAITHFUL EVEN UNTO DEATH (JOHN 21:18, 19).
1. Simon Peter followed the Lord all the way – even unto death (21:18, 19).
2. Do you remember that on the night before the crucifixion, Peter insisted that he would follow Jesus even unto death? (John 13:36, 37). He did not realize it at that time, but his promise, though deferred, would some day be fulfilled.
3. Peter had the privilege of being crucified just like his Lord and Saviour. He glorified God by his death (John 21:19).
4. Tradition has it that Peter insisted on being crucified upside down because he felt unworthy of being crucified the same way as Jesus.
5. Peter glorified God by his death (John 21:19). Think of John Hus, burnt at the stake by the RCC for preaching the Gospel. Think of William Tyndale, burnt at the stake by the RCC for translating the Bible into English.
6. Think of Ridley and Latimer, burnt at the stake by the RC queen of England, Bloody Mary. As they were being burnt alive, Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
IV. FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS BEING PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE BEFORE GOD
1. Following Jesus all the way is a personal accountability. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, and what shall this man (referring to John) do?” (John 21:21).
2. The Lord replied, “If I will that he (John) tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (21:22).
3. Peter’s question is not at all unusual (21:21). He took his eyes off of Jesus and he looked toward John. Our Lord’s reply is for all of us – never mind him – “What is that to thee?” (21:22).
4. In other words, it is none of our business. We are only accountable for what God tells us to do. The Lord told Peter, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me.”
5. Peter was to follow Jesus all the way, and so must we.
6. The Lord has a plan for your life and He has a plan for my life. The Lord has not revealed to me what His plans are for others, and I do not believe He has told you about His plans for me.
7. Each one of us has a personal accountability before God. We are to follow the Lord all the way.
8. Remember back in Luke 22:31, when our Lord said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat”?
9. Then our Lord said, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
10. “Converted” here does not mean “saved” for Peter was already a saved man. Our Lord meant, “When you have turned from self to following me all the way…”
11. Peter was converted from self to a full commitment to following Christ all the way.
1. We have seen that the great theme of John 21 is the public restoration of Simon Peter. He had failed the Lord. He had denied Him three times. But the Lord did not give up on Simon Peter.
2. And He will not give up on you and me.
3. Perhaps you have failed, but remember God is the God of second chances. Make up your mind that you are going to follow the Lord all the way.
4. Invitation: let’s follow Jesus all the way.