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John64 – the followers of the servant king

So when they breakfasted, Jesus states to Simon Peter, “Simon of John, are you loving me more than these?” (John 21: 15)
John, the first -century eye-witness biographer of Jesus concludes his brief epilogue with this AD 30 incident. The resurrected Jesus is on the sea shore with seven disciples (see John63), helping them, feeding them, serving them. A few days earlier, before the cross and resurrection, Peter had claimed that he would die for and with Jesus (see John45) but ended up denying – three times – that he ever knew him.

In questioning Simon three times, Jesus uses the name, “Simon of John”. The name “John” (Greek Ioannes) comes from the Hebrew and means ‘The Lord God the gracious giver.’ Thus, Jesus addressed him as belonging to ‘the Lord the gracious giver’. Was he in fact a ‘gracious giver’, loving-in-action Jesus?

He states to him, “Yes, Lord, you have discerned that I am befriending you.” He states to him, “Feed my lambs!” Second he states to him again, “Simon of John, are you loving me?” 

The verb ‘to love-in friendship’ was first used in John’s biography when Jesus said, “the Father loves-in-friendship the Son and shows him all things that he himself is doing”.  Simon’s response was himself to state his “love-in-friendship” of the Son. He is then instructed: “feed my lambs”. These need love-in-action feeding. Then the question is asked a second time.

He states to him, “Yes, Lord, you have discerned that I am befriending you.” He states to him, “Shepherd my sheep!” 

A second time Simon indicates his “love-in-friendship”. The command follows: “shepherd my sheep”. These need love-in-action shepherding.

Third he states to him, “Simon of John, are you befriending me?” Peter was sorrowful in that he stated to him the third, “Are you befriending me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you yourself have discerned everything. You yourself know that I am befriending you.” Jesus states to him, “Feed my sheep! Amen, amen I state to you, when you were younger, you were dressing yourself and were walking where you were desiring. In fact when you may grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress and will bring you where you do not desire."  In fact he said this signposting what kind of death he will glorify God. And having said this, he states to him, “Follow me!” 

The third question tests Peter’s claimed “love-in-friendship” of him. Peter is very upset that his integrity is being questioned. Maybe he thought that his love-in-friendship, maybe shown in Sunday ‘worship’, was all-sufficient. The final instruction is, “Feed my sheep”. These need love-in-action feeding. So the “love-in-friendship” within Peter is to result in love-in-service of “lambs” and “sheep” – the followers (and soon-to-be-followers) of Jesus. 

But we all need clarity about the consequences which we, with Peter, face. Peter’s self-interest will be challenged every step of the way – even to his death. The brief instruction to Peter is, “Follow me!” – be like me.

Having turned, Peter sees the disciple following that Jesus was loving. That one also lay down upon his chest in the dinner and said, “Lord, who is the one giving you over?”. So, having seen this one, Peter states to Jesus, “Lord, this one - in fact what….?” 

Peter becomes concerned about another “sheep” (being John the biographer himself) whom Jesus “loved-in-action”. Does Peter desire equal treatment?

Jesus states to him, “If I may desire him to stay until I come, what towards you? You yourself follow me!” So this word came out into the brothers that that disciple does not die. In fact, Jesus had not said to him that he does not die, but “If I may desire him to stay until I come, what towards you?” 

Each follower of Jesus is to live life differently from all others. Every single one will be loved-in-friendship while they, through their love-in-friendship of him, obey his command: “You follow me!” The “you” is emphatic. You be like me! 

This one is the disciple testifying concerning these things, and having written these things and we have discerned that his testimony is true. In fact it is and Jesus did many other things. Those things—if they may be written down once—I am thinking not even the world itself to have space for the books being written. 

After recording this, John ends his biography, aware that the huge book of Jesus is therefore still being written by those who are following Jesus - today.

Sinner Syvret

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