The Greatest Life Ever Followed

John 21:15-19

15 After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you." "Then take care of my sheep," Jesus said.

17 Once more he asked him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, "Lord, you know everything. You know I love you." Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep.

18 The truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don't want to go."

19 Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, "Follow me." (NLT)

This message was preached September 29, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at  

To set the back ground for this scene, John tells us the events described here took place some place between the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven. We do not know exactly when in that 40 day period.

Several of the disciples, following the lead of Peter have gone back to the fishing boats that Jesus had called them from some 3 years earlier. This might have just been a time to get away or maybe Peter was thinking about returning to the life he had known before Jesus had called him to be a disciple.

But the result was miserable. They had labored all night and had caught nothing. Now you do realize that in that culture fishing was not a lazy man's sport. The nets would be put into the sea time and time again. They would be pulled up and the fish would be removed. But they haven't caught any fish. And the day is beginning to dawn.

In the dawning hour a stranger is seen on the shore. He ask the embarrassing question, "Do you have anything to eat." Have you caught anything, He was saying. And the answer was no. So this stranger says cast the net on the other side of the boat. Now these boats were not that big, but they followed the advise and their nets were full of fish. John first recognizes this as more that a lucky catch. He says to Peter, "It is the Lord." And Peter dives into the water. While the others gather in the fish, all 153 of them, Peter swims to shore.

There they find a fire, with fish and bread prepared. After that breakfast by the sea Jesus begins to question Peter. He questions Peter's love three times for Peter had denied Him three times. Three times Jesus charges Peter to feed the sheep, the lambs.

Finally Jesus says to Peter, "Follow Me."

I think that is Jesus' message for us today.


  1. Following Jesus Realizes the Uniqueness of His Life
    1. He was a healer a worker of miracles.
    2. He fed the thousands with a few scraps of food.
    3. He is the Son of God the Savior of the world.
      1. John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (NKJ)
    4. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the only path to God.
      1. John 14:6-7 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; (NKJ)
    5. He alone provided the sacrifice that can wash away our sin and take us to heaven.
      1. Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them." (NLT)
    6. He sits today at the right hand of God, raised by the power of God and will return again someday to judge the world in righteousness.
      1. Rev 1:5-8 Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (NKJ)
  2. Following Jesus is a call to self-denial.
    1. Jesus whole life was that of self-denial.
      1. John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (NKJ)
    2. Denying self is the hardest thing we will ever do.
      1. Matt 5:29-30 "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (NKJ)
      2. Matt 8:19-22 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." (NKJ)
      3. Matt 10:37-39 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (NKJ)
      4. Matt 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (NKJ)
    3. Following Jesus is not so much a matter of taking charge as it is of giving up.
  3. Following Jesus is to sacrifice.
    1. Sacrifice is an admired trait.
      1. John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (NKJ)
    2. Sacrifice is what the life of Jesus was all about.
      1. 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (NKJ)
    3. Sacrifice tests our allegiance.
      1. The rich young ruler.
        1. Matt 19:21-22 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (NKJ)
      2. Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (NKJ)
      3. Mark 12:43-44 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (NKJ)
    4. He calls us to sacrifice.
      1. Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJ)
  4. Following Jesus is to live for others.
    1. Jesus did not come for Himself, but for others.
    2. He came to earth to serve, not to be served.
    3. Jesus life was lived to get people into the kingdom of God.
      1. There were other purposes.
      2. But this was the main purpose.
      3. He came to seek and save the lost.
      4. He came to call sinners to repentance.
    4. Jesus calls us to continue the kingdom work which He began.

1 Cor 9:25-27 All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (NLT)

"As I was writing, Tiger was on the brink of accomplishing the rarest feat in professional golf. In just moments he would make history as the only player in the modern era to hold all four majors at once. U.S. Open-champion-turned- broadcaster, Ken Venturi, looked dazed as he mumbled into his microphone, "Something I never dreamt that I would ever see, or anyone could ever do. I think that's the greatest feat I've ever known in all of sports." As Tiger sank his final putt, Venturi exclaimed, "We just witnessed a miracle!"

"When Tiger was interviewed, however, a much- needed perspective emerged. It was not a miracle. He had performed in public the way he practiced in private. At that very moment he was talking about a shot struck on the thirteenth hole that was crucial to his victory. "It's a shot I've been practicing the last couple of months, knowing that I'm probably going to need that shot."1 I was amazed as I listened. Imagine practicing one shot over and over again not just for days or for weeks but for months. Suddenly I realized that Tiger was reiterating. . . The Prayer of Jesus; Hank Hanegraaff

Discipleship is like that. Most people think it takes a miracle for a believer to become a faithful disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ. But the truth is it just takes determination.

Paul was saying that if athletes would do all they do for an earthly crown, how then should we live who are citizens of heaven!