Sermon – January 10, 2021

John 21:15-19 – Jesus and Peter (mp3)

What glory there is in our salvation! Christ has indeed saved us from our sin, freed us from our destiny to death, delivered us from the power of the Devil! There is glory in our salvation, but there is also the great need for humility.  After all, our sin is detestable, and it comes with a great cost. Today, we see how deep the care of our Lord is for us, seen through his own care and concern for Peter. Although Peter’s denial was public and clear, Jesus loves him all the same, and here re-establishes him as the head of the apostles. What does Jesus do, what does he say, to affirm Peter’s forgiveness and appoint him to lifelong service?

1. Jesus’ sheep
Peter is reminded firstly that to love Christ is to love his people. Much as we may want to show our devotion to Jesus somewhat personally, we are called to show our love to him publicly. Jesus wants our love for him to be on full display amongst one another. And we are HIS sheep, not the leaders. We ought to place ourselves under the guidance and leadership of those who can be held accountable, and who are not only present to benefit from us. The glory belongs to Jesus, not the leaders of any church.

2. Jesus’ mercy
Jesus shows his incredible mercy to Peter. He does not humiliate Peter, nor does he blow off Peter’s denial. But, by making him confess his love three times, Jesus quite clearly references the betrayal of Peter and its evil, while at the same time re-establishing him as a leader in the church. It is a masterful stroke to show mercy without minimizing the issue at hand. May we be so merciful!

3. Jesus’ glory
Peter will indeed get his wish of suffering for Jesus. But this happens only after Jesus has re-established him. Peter must learn that, first, Jesus has died for him and has mercy on him, so that his sacrifice for Jesus’ glory can be put in the right light. Peter’s sacrifice doesn’t earn him the mercy shown, rather it is the outcome of teh mercy already gained. The same holds for us: we can work for Jesus’ glory only after we have been shown Jesus’ mercy.