By Ysrael De la Cruz
We are here today because we claim to be followers of Jesus. Some of us began this journey a while back and some of you just started this journey. The followers of Jesus were also known as disciples and years later were given the name “Christians.” Followers of Jesus abide by his teachings; they live their lives according to God’s teaching highlighted in the Bible. You are a follower of Jesus today because you answered his call to follow him. You made him Lord and Savior of your life. You answered the call by believing and being baptized in his name. Following Jesus is not a walk in the park, but rather it is entering a battlefield. Therefore, following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. Lots of things will tempt you to stop following him, to give up. Maybe you may be at that phase in your walk. You feel discouraged and ready to quit. Nevertheless, Jesus still calls you to follow him.
You may relate to one of Jesus’ disciples; one of Jesus’s closest friends. Simon Peter. I remember when he began to follow Jesus. He was fishing with his brother Andrew and fishing buddies. Then Jesus came along and called them to follow him.
The four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) contain the narrative when Jesus called his first disciples.
Matt.4:18-22 Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
Mark 1:17-20 They left their nets to follow Jesus.
Luke 5:1-10 They left everything and followed him.
John 1:35-44 Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter.
For about three years Peter and the others followed Jesus. Later Jesus handpicked Peter and eleven others to be with him and so that he could send them out to preach. He called him apostles; Jesus also gave them authority over evil spirits, and power to cure any sicknesses. Everywhere Jesus went, his twelve apostles went with him. They got the chance to be with Jesus and learn from him. They got to witness incredible miracles during those three years of ministry. They also developed a great relationship with Jesus. Jesus stopped calling them servants and called them friends because he made himself known to them. But out of the twelve, Jesus had a special bond with Peter, James, and John. They got to witness and know things about Jesus that the other apostles did not know.
When Jesus told them the purpose of his mission in Jerusalem; things changed for the apostles when they heard Jesus announced that he would die in Jerusalem. Peter had made Jesus a promise that he would never leave him, even if everyone left him, he would never do it.
That Peter that made the promise, ended up denying Jesus three times. He swore that he never knew Jesus. This denial was part of Peter’s journey. This broken promise belonged to his legacy as a follower of Jesus. In other words, he was not always loyal to the one he claimed to love.
They all got so heartbroken and discouraged when Jesus died. Their hopes and dreams were shattered. They were ready to quit. Then three days after the death of Jesus; the apostles were gripped with fear. Then Jesus appeared to them to show them that he was alive. Jesus appeared to them for a period of 40 days.
Three weeks after the resurrection; Peter is still discouraged; he still letting his past, his failure tell him what to do. He felt unworthy to follow Jesus because he denied him three times. John tells us in his 21st chapter the story. Peter and some of the apostles were by the same sea where Jesus had previously called them to follow him.
Peter said he was going out to fish and the other disciples said, “we are coming with you” The fished all night and caught nothing, more frustrating news for Peter and his fishing buddies. Then early in the morning Jesus appeared to them by the sea and said, “friends, have you caught any fish?” (v.5) throw the net on the right side of the boat.
When they did, they could not haul the net in because of the large catch of fish. This was Dejavu for Peter.
John recognized it was Jesus. When they arrived at shore, Jesus was waiting to have breakfast with them.
This is where Jesus challenged Peter to prove his love and devotion for him.
Simon, son of Jonah do you love me more than these?
Yes Lord, you know I love you.
Then feed my lambs.
Jesus asked Simon Peter three times and Peter was hurt the third time because Jesus asked him if he loved him even as a friend. Feed my sheep.
It is as though Jesus was challenging Peter to get back on track. Here is redemption Peter. It does not matter what you did in the past I am calling you again. Feed my sheep; take care of my flock. Show me that you are ready to follow me once again, feed my sheep.
Then Jesus made a prophecy about Peter.
Verse 18-19 John tells us the reason Jesus said that was to indicate the kind of death Peter will have.
Jesus once again echoed the call to follow me” (v.19)
Follow me Peter
Following Jesus is a personal (individual) call (v.20-22)
Peter wanted to know about John. “Lord what about him?”
When Jesus calls you to follow him; do not be concerned about how someone else is following Jesus.
Jesus calls you to follow him, to do ministry and you like Peter would answer, what about Bob? Or Sallie? What about Them?
Following Jesus is an individual call. He is calling you to follow him not to look at how others are following him.
Jesus’ reply: (v.22) “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
What I want to do with John is none of your business Peter, you must follow me. I am calling you to follow me.
It is interesting how people would twist words or apply selective hearing to what they hear. John said that a rumor spread among the disciples that Jesus had said that John would not die; but Jesus did not say that. What Jesus said was “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?
In other word what Jesus decided to do with John should not concern Peter. Peter’s job and attention was to respond to the call of Jesus to follow him.
John is the writer of this book. He wrote 5 of the 29 books we read in the New Testament. What he wrote is his testimony (v.24) He acknowledged that Jesus did many other things which were not recorded by the writers of New Testament. (v.25) This is how he concludes the gospel.
Following Jesus is a personal thing you do. When he calls you to follow him; do not be concerned how others are following Jesus. Do not compare yourself to others; Jesus calls you to follow him. He is calling you to do specific things in his kingdom. Jesus is calling you to follow him and it does not matter what you have done or how you have been feeling. Today he is calling you to get back on track, to follow him. Notice how he is not taking into account your failures or inadequacies, he is saying to you, follow me.