John 21:15-23 Who do you follow

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me. 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

I’m starting this weeks blog off a little differently.   There’s a reason, and you’ll also notice that there’s been a name change as well, there’s a reason for that, but let’s take a look at this passage first.   The passage and the point behind the passage is the reason for, well, everything.

I find the Book of John fascinating.   I spent most of last month going through the book of John for my personal devotions, along with studying Nehemiah.   John has a fascinating and writing style, and also a unique perspective due to the simple fact that he was Christ’s best friend while here on Earth.   I find that….I don’t know, amazing, weird, inspiring, that Jesus Christ, Son of God, had someone who was his best friend while here.   That’s kind of what this passage is about, but it is so much more.

John 21 opens with the Disciples coming in from a fishing trip.   Well, long story short, the fishing trip was a bust, until Jesus showed up on shore.   He called out and asked how the fishing was going, not realizing it was Jesus, they responded no luck, he told them to try again, they did, boat load of fish.  At that point, Peter realizes it’s Jesus and jumps out of the boat and swims to shore, followed by the disciples in the boat.   Jesus cooks them breakfast with some of the fish they caught.   Now, if you look at this first half of the chapter, there’s a lot of cool things we can look at and get a lesson from, especially from Simon Peter’s enthusiasm.  However, it’s the last 9 verses I’m keying on for a reason.

It starts out with Jesus asking Peter one question, three times.  The question?  “Do you love me?”   Now, if asked once and you say yes, then that should answer the question.   Twice, it’s a bit irritating, but when asked the same question a third time, it gets a bit exasperating because you’ve already answered the same question twice.   John even reported that Peter was a bit hurt that Jesus asked him the same question three times.   I believe there’s a reason for that.   God is all about symbolism, especially when it comes to restoring someones faith and belief in themselves and HIM.   Peter denied Christ three times, and I can only imagine the guilt and embarrassment this caused him.   I think by asking him three times, Jesus was transmitting to Peter that He had faith and trust in him.   Jesus was showing Peter that He had not given up on him.   He states the very purpose and point of His coming to earth in the first place:  “FOLLOW ME”     I could end it here and that would be a great lesson, but once again, there’s more to the story.   More that God want’s to show us.

Evidently, at some point in this conversation, Jesus and Peter and separated from the others, it was after Jesus gave Peter the charge of following HIM, that Peter turns and sees John following them.   It’s a simple question that Peter asks, and maybe it’s one of curiosity, maybe its a bit of a challenge to Jesus.   I kind of believe (and this is just a personal belief, something that I’ve picked up in reading the gospels and thinking about what I’ve read) that there was a bit of a friendly rivalry between John and Peter.   John was known as the disciple that Jesus loved the most, and Peter, well, Peter was known for his blustery and excitable personality and was often known for engaging his mouth before his brain.   So, when Peter turns around and sees John, the natural question for Peter to ask is: “what about him”?    How often do we do this ourselves?  We look at someone elses walk with Christ, ministry, or stuff in general and we ask God: “Ok God, I’ll follow you, but what about…..?   A lot of times we either are comparing,competing with, or identifying ourselves with someone elses ministry or even walk with Christ.   Peter’s simple question led to an even simpler answer that gives us the basis of our faith.  Christ’s reply was : “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.  HELLO!!!  There it is right there.   Christ was basically saying: “don’t worry about him, YOU MUST FOLLOW ME!!!  That’s his statement to all of us, don’t worry about anyone else, YOU MUST FOLLOW ME!!!   We can’t base our faith, our ministry, our personal walk off of anyone else, we must first follow CHRIST….personally…..Him and I. Me and HIM.   YOU and GOD. Not follow God by being a part of this ministry, or that church, or that band etc.  Jesus says “YOU MUST FOLLOW ME”, it’s a personal invitation and challenge to each of us.   That’s HIS challenge to me today.  Follow me, not because you’re a youth minister, but follow me…..period.  

With that being said, we come to the explanation for the change in blog name.   I changed it from “asimpleyouthworker” to “asimplefollower” because, at this point, I’m no longer a youth worker.   I met with my youth pastor today and, well, it was a mutual and amicable parting of ways.   I’m no longer a youth ministry lay worker with my church, and you know what?  I’m ok with that.  I thought I’d be angry or upset and even prepared an angry and over reactive response to this, but as I prayed and sought GOD over this, I realized that if I truly want GOD’s best for my life, then I need to be prepared for HIM leading me in a way that I don’t expect.   I don’t see this as a failure or rejection, it’s more like a gentle shove in a different direction that I’ve been praying about but uncertain about how to move.   I’m not sure of what GOD is leading me to, but I’m excited about it.   I have to say I’m seriously excited to see how GOD works in this new year and see where and what GOD leads me to.   Will I miss the kids, the chaos, and activity, of this youth ministry?  Well, I’ll miss the kids, probably the chaos, but I’ve been feeling restless for some time now, wanting something else, something different, something more.   In a way I was holding on because it was comfortable and warm like a blanket during a cold brisk day.   The problem with a blanket during a cold brisk day is that it symbolizes static, stationary activity.   You sit by a fire, on a couch, on a bench, etc with a blanket and rest and for a time it’s an ok thing to do.   GOD taught me a lot during this time, and HE poured into me and gave me some great memories and moments, but he doesn’t want us to wrap up in our blankie and sit by the fire.   HE wants to give us a warm coat that fits perfectly so that we can have freedom and movement to serve HIM first.   I think God is taking me to the store and preparing to give me a new coat.   I’m not sure what HE’s going to lead me to, but I’m excited to start this process and see where it leads.    Does this mean I’m getting out of youth ministry?  No, not necessarily.  At this time, with this church I’m transitioning out of youth ministry, who knows what will happen in the future.   So, I change my blog name from “asimpleyouthworker” to “asimplefollower” to reflect that I’m simply following where God leads.

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