Don't Give Up, Tend The Flock!
Good morning everyone! I greet you!.. and I do so, in the love and faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
In our Church's Liturgical Calendar, we are still celebrating the Easter season. Today, being the 3rd Sunday in Easter. This is a time when Christians worldwide congregate together on the 1st day of the week to worship God and especially to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and saviour.
This is what Easter is all about, and is in fact, the basis of our faith and everlasting hope, when we joyfully say:-
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! ALLELUIA!
Additionally, every 1st day of the week, which we call Sunday, we have the gospel read aloud for us! and we are always admonished to hear the words of our lord Jesus Christ!
Today's gospel message is no exception. In fact it' s rather significant in that it has two themes within the passage, and my Sermon today is based on these two. We are afforded a “birds eye view” so we can understand and appreciate how we can follow Jesus instructions to us, and please him in our service to Him individually and collectively.
The first theme is in John 21 verses 1-4 and I would characterize the theme as:-
PERSEVERANCE and FAITH in GOD in OVERCOMING DISAPPOINTMENT.
“What should we do when faced with disappointment?” How do we handle it? Why/ how did this happen?, we question.
Although the early disciples knew that Jesus was alive they had no idea that His mission was still active, and to have a much greater effect in the future. To them it was all over, so faced with what seemed like failure they decided [ah well!]we will go back to what we know- fishing.[..old way of life]
BUT…... what happened? After a whole night of fishing – nothing! It all ended in failure. Consider for a moment how those disciples must have felt at this time? Disappointed, disconsolate, sad? What's your take on why this happened?
God tells us in His word, in the book of Jeremiah, that He has a plan for us; a plan for good and not for evil. So this is what we must hold onto, and rather than giving in to disappointment and discouragement, we should recall God's promises and what He as already done and demonstrated for us! Simultaneously, what happens when we are being led by God yet decide to go our own way? Nothing! Or worse, Failure!
However, God did not forget the disciples because they turned away. He had a plan for their lives and every desire to see it through. Jesus is always calling to us as to them, saying, “How's it going?” While we think we can go it alone God gives us every opportunity to see that it's not working out as we would like we need to do things God's way and PERSEVERE in HOPE and TRUST, for with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm!
We are all followers of Jesus, hence disciples; We should be ones who imitate Jesus by allowing Him to live through us. by being Spirit filled and Spirit led of course!
As soon as they once more listened to Jesus' voice His favour could be experienced. He told them where to throw out their nets for a catch! And so, when we get with God's programme, we receive the benefit of God's grace.
But notice something interesting about Jesus' cooking on the sea shore. Although Jesus asked Peter to bring some fish to put on the fire [barbie!] He already had fish cooking! So today Jesus asks us, as 21st Century Christians, to join him in bringing the gospel to the world.
He could do it all Himself!… but We get to be His associates [Priesthood.] We should not get big-headed about this, but collectively serve in humility and sincerely the God who loves each one of us unconditionally. As He loves us; we should make sure we are motivated by love also, in everything we do.
Which also leads us into the 2nd theme of the gospel, today…...
After Jesus called the disciples to break-the-fast with Him, and when they had finished eating Jesus turns to Peter and asks him a pertinent question:
FULFILLING YOUR CALLING with/in LOVE
The question was, “Do you love me”?
To which Peter answered, “Yes, you know that I love you”.[In Greek the word is “like”]. After what Peter had done, and denied knowing Jesus, Peter instinctively knew that he did not love as Jesus loved.
But Jesus lovingly by his questions offered the opportunity for Peter to be brought back into the fold and assured him of this by saying:
“Feed my lambs”.
Yes, Jesus wants us to take special care of the young- children and young people, hold a special place in the heart of Jesus. [As well as ones new in the faith also]...Jesus calls such ones – his lambs. If he especially mentions this to Peter I think it behoves us to do the same and keep on Jesus' good side!
[At this point, I would like us to think about our Recently confirmed ones- Dylon Mayers, Rianna Walters, Tiana King, Rheanna Sargeant, from our Church, as well as all the others from our sister churches] Can you please stand, so we can applaud you in confirming your Baptism vows. [Applause]
And so to continue, for a second time Jesus asks Peter, Peter,“Do you love me”?
And for a second time Peter says, “You know I like you”.
This time Jesus says to Peter, “Tend my sheep”.
Jesus wants, indeed expects, us to care for all the older members of His flock also. Priests in particular, are in Jesus' sights i.e. regarding how they do this, as well as all in positions of oversight roles Never forgetting, we are always being observed by our Lord and Saviour., Jesus Christ. Christians are called to be servants in the land, yet so often many leaders tend to act harshly, Lording over the flock -causing separation, and division among Christ's followers.
I pray we never fall into this category here at All Saints!
For a third time Jesus asks Peter the question, Peter, do you love me? A question he is today asking each one of us….He asked Peter as he asks us:
“Simon, Son of John, do you like me”?
This time Jesus comes down to Peter's level and asks “Do you like me”? And Peter can answer at the level he feels, “You know everything Lord”.
And Jesus says once more, “Feed my sheep”.
Jesus knows everything we think and everything we do. Many times we tend to forget this or act that way, forgetting that Jesus is fully aware of our every thought and action towards others.
Jesus proves this, by giving Peter his and our assignment as disciples to feed and tend Jesus' sheep! We are all called to be disciples of the Lord and disciples are trainees in training to train others. We are all called to be evangelists who evangelize!
We are to feed the sheep, the older and spiritually more mature members so that they in turn can feed others who are new to the faith. Jesus calls us to do this and if we accept He gives us the grace to do it. And He provides Church based training for those who are willing and who should thereby become good/strong spiritual leaders.
Jesus prophesies the way Peter's life would turn out, and so to he has a plan for each and every one of his followers. We must agree to the plan God has for us. It's a plan we will love to take part In, as God will mould our character traits into His plan! When we agree, Jesus gives us the grace to carry it out, and He will be with us every step of the way. Remember, for a Christian, Jesus will never leave or forsake us. Remember, my brothers, sisters, and friends just as He did not forsake Peter, Jesus is with us always!
So let's get with God's plan for us.
Don't you just love it when a plan comes together, and everything turns out splendidly?
Yes, we do. So come on my brothers, sisters,and friends, lets work ever harder at the greatest plan of all…. God's!