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Compassionate Shepherding

by Rev. Kirby Williams

Jesus' profound commission to Peter and the church to radically and compassionately shepherd His flock.

Text: John 21:15-17
Date: 09/20/2020, the Combined service.
Series: "John: Encountering Love" Part 195

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After the disciples' ill-fated fishing expedition, the subsequent miraculous catch, and the breakfast of renewal Jesus served on the beach-- John's attention turns to an extraordinary conversation between Jesus and Peter. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, three times Peter responds in the affirmative, and three times Jesus charges Peter to shepherd His sheep. Appropriately, we will study this passage from three perspectives: as an important symbol of Peter's forgiveness and restoration; as a delightful explosion of synonyms adding richness to John's text; and as the commission to Peter and the church to nurture, disciple, and shepherd the flock of Christ. It is this third perspective we will emphasize, especially the compassion that Jesus is instilling in Peter to love those He loves and to radically dedicate his life to their spiritual enrichment. Ultimately, we will learn the crucial lesson that evangelism alone (the fishing expedition) is not enough to sustain the church of Jesus Christ through the ages-- what is needed is an army of truly compassionate shepherds!

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I. Introduction
II. Exposition of the text, John 21:15-17.
A. Context
1. The symbolism of the fishing expedition, John 20:21, Mark 1:17, Rom. 6:23.
2. Doomed to failure.
3. An overview of the text.
B. Restoring Peter.
1. Setting the scene, vs. 15.
a. A public address.
i. Peter boasted in public, John 13:37, Matt. 26:33.
ii. Peter's restoration needed to be public, Luke 24:34, 1Cor. 15:5.
b. A formal address, Matt. 16:17, Johon 1:42.
2. The threefold confession, vs. 15-17.
a. The flow of questions and answers.
b. Peter's humility.
i. A different man.
ii. Appealing to omniscience.
C. Deciphering the language.
1. Determining "these", vs. 15.
a. Considering three views.
i. The "things" of Peter's life.
ii. The relationships of Peter's life, Luke 14:26, Matt. 19:29.
iii. A comparison with the other disciples.
b. Reasons for my view.
i. The one option I reject.
ii. Melding the other two, John 21:3.
2. John's delightful explosion of synonyms, vs. 15-17.
a. Two words for "love".
i. Defining the words.
ii. The basis of the discussion.
iii. The difference context and emphasis makes.
iv. The bottom line.
b. The other synonyms.
i. Two words for "sheep".
ii. Two words for "tend".
iii. Two words for "know".
D. Driven by Compassion.
1. Overview
2. The importance of "shepherding".
a. God's wrath at rotten shepherds, Ezek. 34:1-10.
b. Christ's Compassion for the lost, Matt. 9:35, 6:34.
c. Christ is the Good Shepherd, John 10:11-15,17 17:6.
d. Loving what Christ loves.
e. A footnote.
III. Application
A. Lessons from the text.
1. Beyond evangelism: shepherding to make disciples.
2. Problems in the church are the direct result of poor shepherding.
3. The shallowness of the church will shape tomorrow.
4. The danger of an army of babies.
5. The need for an army of compassionate shepherds.
B. Understanding and accepting our commission.
IV. Conclusion

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