25 Nov The Final Word & Three Follow-Up Questions from The Gospel of John – Words of Grace – November 25, 2022
The final chapter in the Gospel of John is both personal to Peter and a call to all who read it. The final word from Jesus to the disciple who failed is the same word to us. Jesus said, “Follow Me.”
John and Peter were disciples of Jesus. They were also close friends. They are seen together often in the Gospel of John. John loved Peter. He did not mean to highlight Peter’s failures or embarrass him. But John does give us an honest account of his friend because in it the grace of Jesus shines bright, something for which Peter (if he were still alive when John wrote) would have been happy.
John and Peter were together on the night of Jesus’ arrest. It is John who spoke to the high priest’s servant who let Peter into the courtyard where he denied Jesus. John was close enough to hear those grievous words from Peter’s lips when asked if he was a disciple… “I am not.”
John and Peter were the first of the twelve disciples to arrive at the tomb after Jesus arose from the dead. They did not immediately see Jesus, only the linen cloth he was wrapped in when he was buried. That was enough for John to believe. Peter went home.
If the Gospel of John ended in chapter 20, all would be well. Peter was with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He saw Jesus alive. He believed. But John, the faithful friend, wants to show how the one who denied Jesus was restored to him. John wants to show Jesus as the gracious one who keeps his own.
So, there is chapter 21. And for that we are grateful. Jesus singled out Peter, asked him three times if he loved him (corresponding to the three times Peter denied Jesus), and commissioned him to lead and feed his flock. Jesus led Peter through contrition, confession, and restoration. Painful but powerful. Grievous but full of grace.
The final word of hope to Peter was, “You follow Me!” Jesus still loved Peter.
These words are personal to Peter. John wants all to know that Peter was restored, that he really loved Jesus, and that he was the apostle set apart to serve the church.
But more is happening here. John means these words to be heard by all who read his Gospel because this is the call of Jesus to all who see him.
We have been taken on a journey in John that ends with this call. Jesus’ opening words to Andrew were, “Come and you will see”. From there we are allowed to see Jesus do the signs and hear him say the words that tell us he is the Christ, the Son of God.
After the final sign of the cross and empty tomb, Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Finally, to restored Peter Jesus said, “You follow Me!”
The journey recorded in John covered about three years. We have taken almost half that time to consider it together at Grace Community Church. And so here we are at the end.
Three questions remain. First, do you see Jesus? He invited you to come and see. The Gospel of John shows you Jesus. You will see as you read.
Second, do you believe in Jesus? He is standing before you alive, scars in hand and side. Believe in him. With Thomas, fall before him and confess him as your Lord and your God.
Third, will you follow Jesus? This is a call to Peter, and to you and me. While we still have breath we are called to follow. Let no doubt, fear, or hardship keep you from following Jesus. No sin, failure, or weakness will separate you from his love. See him as he is. Believe in him as the Son of God, your Savior and Lord. Follow him through it all and all the way home.
You can probably tell by the length of this Words of Grace that I don’t want to end our series in John. But we must, and so we will this Sunday. May we forever hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow him.