Feed My Sheep

Pastor Tom Ascol addresses John Chapter 21 as he closes his series on John’s Gospel. The disciples were in Galilee, responding to Jesus’ direction (Matthew 28:10). At least three of the seven disciples were fishermen by trade. Therefore, it was not surprising they would go fishing while waiting for the Lord. Early in the morning Jesus revealed Himself to them. While the truth that in order for God to be known by men God must reveal Himself to men prevails to this day in this chapter we can see the risen Christ calling His people to fellowship and to lifelong ministry.

Jesus calls His people to fellowship first by reminding the disciples of their self-deficiency. We have seen this truth earlier in our study; “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). No matter our success in any arena it is only by the enabling of God that we attain that success. Despite the disciples’ self-deficiency Jesus assures them of His supernatural provision. Jesus gave instruction, here for fishing, the obedience to which resulted in a miraculous provision. While God’s means and provisions are different for all His children Philippians 4:19 reminds believers “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” As we face challenges God is able to provide and sustain just as He did the disciples. Furthermore, His ability and willingness to provide is exemplified in His preparation of breakfast. We are dependent of Jesus. He is able and willing to satisfy that dependence as we trust Him. Jesus invites us to exercise that dependence. His serving breakfast, even as the disciples hesitated, proves His desire.

Having established fellowship Jesus calls His own to lifelong ministry. In the second part of this chapter Peter’s earlier denial of Christ three times and Jesus asking about Peter’s love three times presents a beautiful picture of restoration. Jesus publicly insures all the disciples understand Peter’s restoration with Jesus. Though Peter had fallen greatly so he had repented greatly. Peter is publicly called by the Lord to be a shepherd. Though the flock is the Lord’s He has created the church as a means of growing this flock and has appointed under-shepherds to minister. Two implications arise. First, Christians ought to belong to, to be part of, a church community. Second, they need to insist their shepherds adhere to and preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus established the church, calls believers to it, and instructs those called to lead in His method of shepherding.

Peter, and by extension believers, are called to follow the Lord despite the cost or consequences. Predicting Peter’s death the Lord insists on his faithful following. Part of that following, as evidenced by Jesus’ response to Peter’s avowal of love, is a lifelong ministry. Similarly, Jesus calls us to a ministry whether we are a plumber or a pastor. Jesus desires fellowship with and ministry from those that are His.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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