The American Wisdom Series

Pamphlet #1585 John KC 60&61

Feed My Sheep

Jesus has now appeared twice to His disciples following His resurrection and is about to show Himself for the third time, for a very special reason.

John 21:1
After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He himself.
"After" means a period of time, and this was after Jesus had shown Himself twice and already told His disciples that He was "sending them forth", even as He was sent forth by His Father. They should definitely know by now that they are to carry forth the Word of God and preach the Gospel.

Here is the setting as to how Jesus showed Himself to His disciples this time.

[2] There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Together are, Cephas the Rock (Peter), Thomas the Twin, Nathanael of Cana, James and John the "Sons of Thunder", and two other of His disciples. That makes seven (7) of them in all. Who knows what they were doing or talking about but all of a sudden Peter declares, "I'm outta here", followed by a bunch of "Me too's".
[3] Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
Oh great! This apostle thing is just not working out. Peter and the disciples are supposed to be fishers of men, not fishers of fish! So where are they? They are out in a boat and they spent all night fishing, but they came up empty handed. Looks like they are doing the wrong job!

But remember Jesus didn't tell them that He would "like" them to become fishers of men, He said He would MAKE THEM fishers of men, not as in "force them", but as in "mold them" or 'teach them". And so He will. Here's what He said to them at the beginning:

Mark 1:17
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Let's go to the Book of Luke and read about their first fishing experience with Jesus, before any training, and how they handled His instructions. Jesus had just finished speaking to the crowd from one of the fishing boats:
Luke 5:4-11
Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

[5] And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Notice Peter gives Him some mild "lip" at first, like, "It's not going to do any good, Lord! I've been unsuccessful all night long!" (He was talking to the Son of God!), but finally he does as he is instructed.
[6] And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
Hey, the net BROKE because it was so full! Now they scramble like fools to save all the fish they can. They yell to their partners in the other boat to give them a hand and they hustle and overfill the boats and they begin to sink. Uh oh!
[7] And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
Way to go, Peter! You blew it buddy!
[8] When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

[9] For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

What a catch!
[10] And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
Jesus told Peter from here on out he would catch men, not fish!

Now let's return to John, 3+ years later, where the boys have spent another frustrating night in the ship without catching a thing!

John 21:4
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
They couldn't tell who it was standing on the shore, but whoever it was called unto them.
[5] Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
Jesus said, "Have ye any meat?" Do you think He was really asking, "Have you caught any 'men'? Have you produced any fruit?" Do you think Jesus forgot what He told them at the beginning? Hardly.

Here comes a new set of instructions from the Captain of our souls:

[6] And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
At least there is no "back talk" or mumbling this time. The instruction is, "Fish out of the RIGHT SIDE of the ship!" That is where the fruitful catch will always be found!
John 21:7
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
De-ja vu suddenly sets in and John is the first to recognize the miracle and that it was the Lord standing on the shore.

Note: Peter wasn't stark naked as in "nude fishing". He just didn't have his fisher's coat on so he was bare from the waist up. (Compare Mk. 14:51, Acts 19:16)

[8] And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

[9] As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

Christ already had their meal prepared for them. All they needed to do was fish as He instructed them to and their needs were met. (Check out I Kings 19:4-6 too.)
John 21:10
Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
"Which YE have caught." Looks like they got all the credit for catching the fish. Well, after all, they did the "work" the way the Lord told them to. They cast the net and drew it full of fishes to land.
[11] Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
There is reason we are told there were 153 fishes. Numbers in the Bible have significant meanings and are given to add deeper understanding. When we check out the Biblical value of 153 we find it is made up of 17, which is the number for "Victory", times 9, which is "Fruit of the Spirit" (See Biblical Mathematics, by Ed. F. Vallowe).  The number 153 then means "Fruit-Bearing" which is what His elect are to be. i.e. "Fruit-Bearers".

Notice also that this time the net did NOT break. All the fish were "saved" and there was room for all. Such was not the case the first time, remember? Luke 5:6 "And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake."

[12] Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
Come and dine with the Lord, and eat of the meal He has prepared for you this day! And if you are one of His, and your needs are met, don't ask if it is the Lord who has provided for you. IT IS!
[13] Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
He takes care of His own, so do we need to worry about catching fish if we fish with Christ? No we don't. Bread we know is symbolic of the true "Bread of Life" and "Fish" has long been a symbol of Christianity. Be ye fishers of men and He will provide all that is necessary, both spiritually and physically.
[14] This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.
Three is the number of Divine Completeness. It is the number of the Godhead, i.e. the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has just fed the disciples an example of their daily bread and meat, and now Peter, who denied Christ "thrice", is about to be told "thrice" to pass it on, i.e. to Feed His little lambs and His two flocks of sheep. Peter won't quite understand this at first, but soon he will become a great of fisher of men and meal preparer for them, just as Jesus said he would.

John 21:15
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?
Notice that Jesus uses Peter's full name. Now I don't know about you, but whenever someone close to me uses my full name and says, "Lancelot Knight!", I immediately sense that what is about to follow is serious business and so my ears perk up! (Of course in my case it's usually because I've done something wrong or outrageous.)

Also, the question that Jesus asks Peter is "does he love Him more than the other disciples love Him?", not more than he loves the other disciples. (See Mat. 26:33, 35)

The word Jesus uses for "love" in this 1st question is agapao, meaning a deep abiding moral love.

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Peter replies, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee", using the word phileo for love, instead of agapao. Phileo is the word from which we get Phila-delphia, the city of "brotherly love".

Jesus then tells Peter to Feed "my lambs", i.e. Christ's lambs, not Peter's.

[16] He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him and again uses agapao.
He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Peter again replies using phileo and Jesus now tells him to Feed His "sheep" this time.
[17] He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
This time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, only this time He uses the word phileo, and Peter becomes distressed over it!
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?
Certainly Peter was sensitive about having denied Jesus three times, and he knows full well that the Lord knows what is in his mind and heart!
And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.
Peter replies again using phileo.
Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus has given Peter instructions to Feed three distinct groups:
1. Feed His lambs, the young and tender, be they children or "babes in Christ".

2. Feed His sheep of the House of Israel.

3. Feed His sheep of His Other Fold.

Do you remember from John 10:16 that Jesus has more than one sheep fold?  They also must be fed!
John 10:16
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
The other sheep are the gentiles to whom salvation is now open since Jesus has paid the price for all! And it will be this Peter who will see the "sheet" come down from heaven (three times since it's Peter) with the unclean animals on it (Acts 11:1-18). It will be at this point that Peter will understand about the other sheep he is to Feed.
Acts 11:18
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Teach the young lambs, teach the House of Israel, teach the Gentiles, Peter, the Words of the Living God and of His Christ. And so he will go forth and fulfill his destiny and become the great Apostle Peter. We thank our Father for him.

Finally, Jesus tells Peter not only that he [Peter] will die, but also in what manner. Would you want to know how you are going to die?

John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
Jesus is not telling Peter that he will die of old age here, but that he will be "girded", i.e. bound for execution. Tradition has it from very early on that Peter was crucified, though he requested that he be hung upside down, for he considered himself unworthy to be crucified as his Lord.
[19] This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
So NEVER let anyone tell you that the disciples thought they were living in the "last days" and that they thought they would see the return of Jesus Christ at His second advent. Here are Peter's own words from his second epistle recounting this very conversation with the Lord concerning his death:
2 Peter 1:13
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

[14] Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Peter said as long as he is still breathing he would "Feed the sheep" and "stir them up", meaning to "jog their memories" from the Word of God.
[15] Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
Peter wrote his epistles to carry on the teaching even after he is history, outta here, kicked the bucket, cleaned out his locker, severed the silver cord, i.e. died as the Lord said he would!

Let's return to the final verses of the Gospel of John and Peter's conversation with Jesus.

John 21:20
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter has just been told by Jesus that he is going to be martyred. That's a pretty good whammy, wouldn't you say? So Peter turns around and sees John and says to Jesus, "What about John? What's going to happen to him?"
[21] Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

[22] Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Jesus told Peter not to worry about John (or anybody else for that matter). Even if He told John he would be alive when He returns, "it's none of your business, Peter". Concentrate on following me. That's pretty good advice for all of us.
[23] Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Yes, and if you think that statement got misquoted and misunderstood just look at what the good brethren in the churches of today mis-teach about what the Word of God said!
John 21:24
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
It was John's desire in his gospel to document that Jesus Christ always was, is, and always will be the Living Word of God. His detailed record of the Eight Signs (Miracles) he presented to us has given us a New Beginning in our understanding and appreciation and heartfelt love for what our Father has done for us through His Son. I know it has brought many of us closer to Him. The following few verses tell the beauty of the Gospel of John.
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

[2] The same was in the beginning with God.

[3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

[4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 19:30
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

We now conclude our study of the Gospel of John with the final words that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, chose in closing.
John 21:25
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.


To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

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