In Isolation Thoughts 2

Sunday 3rd May 2020

Suddenly we are in May, where is the year going? Though I suppose the last few weeks have been unusual as we are in isolation, keeping two metres apart and not meeting in groups and our churches are closed. We have kept going using the internet to communicate through various social media. This weekend we should have been in Norfolk enjoying the caravan and joining with our friends at Westfield Mission in Brundall. I hope you are joining us this week, so we have a combined service. One of the things that we have in our Brundall Meeting is a Quiz, so everyone can join in this week, the answers will be in next weeks service, if you need them!

Our Music this week: YouTube      Close to thee -Gaither Vocal Band

Quiz

ISOLATION BIBLE QUIZ

  1.   Who were not allowed to visit their garden due to isolation?
  2. Who spent extra time in isolation due to memory lapse?
  3. Who went into isolation after an archery contest?
  4. Who was isolated for going in the wrong direction?
  5. Who was isolated with some scary animals?
  6. Who was isolated for four days before their death?
  7. Who spent his isolation in a pit?
  8. Who ate bird food in his isolation?
  9. Who went into isolation to avoid a unique event?
  10. Who was isolated from her family before a banquet?
  11.      Who was isolated for four days before being called out?
  12. Who paid for his own isolation?
  13. Who had a notable victory when in isolation in the snow?
  14. Who went missing when in isolation?
  15. What does the Bible say is a good purpose to go into isolation?

 

Bible Reading:  John 21.15-25

Let’s sort it out!

Last week we saw what happened when the Disciples went fishing, they initially caught nothing, but at the intervention of Jesus they had a massive catch. When they arrived at the shore, they found a meal prepared, but they were asked to bring more fish to the table. They then all sat down at the invitation, ‘Come and dine!’ In our passage today, we look at what happened after they had eaten the meal. I think that Jesus took Peter to one side and had a private conversation with him. Peter must have wondered what was coming next. His mind was probably in turmoil, he remembered some of the things he had said, but most likely at the forefront was his triple denial at Jesus’ trial in Jerusalem, and the fateful cock crow- was this going to be the moment when he would be cast aside? Was Jesus going to say that their relationship was ending, was He going to point out that Peter had gone back to his old life, had gone fishing, so he could stay there. How would we deal with a situation where we had really let someone down or someone had let us down? Would we be forgiving, or would we cut them off and put them out of our circle?

If we look at what happened, we see there are four stages that Jesus took him through, but firstly notice there was no rejection by Jesus. Peter’s worst fears were not realised, Jesus was looking at reconciliation. Even so, I do not think it was easy for Peter.

We do need a little New Testament Greek lesson here to help us understand what was going on and what was being said by both parties. There are several words in Greek that are translated as ‘love’ in the NT. In English, we use the word love to mean a whole range of emotions, from a preference or liking to a deep-felt commitment. In this passage, two words are used, ‘philio and agape’. They have two different meanings,

philio- means a relational, responsive and responsible love, a dear love, whereas,

agape- means a much deeper love, it is used when referring to the love between Jesus and His Father in heaven. It is unconditional, it is a noble love and does not depend on either party to the relationship doing anything to merit the love, it simply exists. Now to the four stages:

Commitment

Here we find Jesus asking Peter a question, ‘Do you love me more than these? [agape] Peter replies you know I love you! [philio] Jesus then repeats the question using agape and Peter replies in the affirmative using philio. Then Jesus asks for the third time, the same question using philio this time and Peter responds, a little upset at the repetition, with the affirmative using philio. Jesus was asking Peter to confirm his commitment to the Lord, was it unconditional and undeserved? Peter responds that he is very much, deeply committed to Jesus. Some commentators and preachers will suggest that the repetition was related to the three denials, balancing his rejection with a renewed commitment to the Lord. Yet at the same time, Jesus never doubted Peter’s commitment, He knew from the events of the last three years that Peter often spoke without an initial thought, he just reacted, though his comments were often a reflection of his need for action. Probably his most outspoken comment, which shows the depth of his commitment, was when he suggested that he would go to death with or for the Lord. Was this a true representation of his inner feelings to Jesus? Whatever the basis for the questions and response, it is made quite clear that Peter had a 100%, total commitment. What is the level of our commitment? Do we love the Lord more than ‘these’, whatever ‘these’ might be. What are our priorities?

 

Command

Having settled the intention in each case, we find that Jesus gave Peter instructions, to feed, to care and then feed. There is also a slightly different focus in each command, as it is to feed the lambs, take care or shepherd the sheep and finally to feed them. The Lord intends the whole flock is to be looked after at all times. There is a need to nurture and feed the young in faith, so they will develop and grow, there is the need for pastoral leadership and guidance to the whole flock. But it is important to feed the mature in faith as they are never at a point where they cannot learn or grow. The whole emphasis is in the relationship between the shepherd and sheep, the Lord and His people, the church. There are strong lessons here for all Christians, we have a wide and full responsibility to proclaim the news of the gospel to all, young to old, to care for them and show them Jesus in our lives.

Concern

In spite of all that had happened, we see that Jesus had a concern for Peter and his future and warned that life would not always be easy, he would not always get his own way, and his death would be at the hand of others. He then gives him a repeat of His original call, ‘Follow Me!’ Peter then shows his concern for the others in the group and asks, ‘What about him-John?’ Jesus gives a gentle reply to Peter indicating that his major focus should be on Christ, his obedience in following Jesus is a must! Is this a warning to us that our relationship is with the Lord and that must be our focus? Our concern for others must only come from our shepherding duties, the main issue must be our personal following of Jesus and let Him guide others in their role in the church.

Completeness

The final section of the passage comes outside of the conversation Jesus had with Peter; it is John summing up what his gospel writing is all about. He is writing a witness statement about the life and words of Jesus but points out that there is much more he could write. This is enough to show that Christ was the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. It is sufficient evidence for anyone to consider and believe in Him.

We should put ourselves in Peter’s place, ask ourselves the same questions:

  • How committed are we to following Jesus?
  • Are we following His command for our lives?
  • Is our main focus and concern on what we are doing for the Lord?
  • Are we satisfied that the Bible is the complete and sufficient word of God for our salvation?

All this depends on our acceptance of Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. He died that we might be saved and enter into an eternal relationship with Him.

 


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