Back to the Shepherd’s Fold

Bible Lesson: John 21:15-19

Theme Verses: Vs. 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” …he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

According to the scripture God the Father has chosen us to be His children before the creation of the world and by the blood of His Son we have been redeemed. But many a times the temptation of the world leads us astray from the fold of God. But God who is rich in mercy and love bring us back to His fold if we truly repent and ask for His forgiveness. Same thing happened with Peter, one of Jesus’ favourite disciples. One may connect him with the character of the lost sheep which is mentioned in Luke 15:1-7. In it the sheep was brought back by the shepherd into His fold after much search.

Peter by profession was a fisherman from Galilee. In Matthew 4:18-19, Jesus commanded ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people’ and immediately he left his nets (in other words his livelihood) and followed Him. Since then Peter became one of the special disciples of Jesus. In fact, God the Father revealed to him that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God in Matt. 16. In the same chapter Jesus charged him with a great responsibility by promising him, ‘you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church Vs. 18.’ He once claimed that he would never fall away no matter what may come on his way (Matt. 26:33, 35; Luke 22:33; John 13:37). But later when Jesus was arrested, Peter denied three times. At the moment of the third denial, a rooster began to crow as it was predicted by Jesus.

In the above passage, Jesus’ threefold question and threefold commission of apostolic mission contrast directly with Peter’s three denials. Three times Peter said he did not even know the Lord (Mark 14: 66-72; John 18:17, 25, 27) now three times he said he loved the Lord (21:15-17). Derek Prince in his book Blessings and Curses mentions that Peter enforced his third denial and actually ‘began to curse and swear.’ In other words, he invoked curse on himself. When Jesus was resurrected and women visited the empty tomb then angel told them about Jesus’ resurrection and instructed, ‘go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you (Mark 16:7).’ By saying ‘and Peter’ it became clear that Peter automatically came out from the Shepherd’s fold by his own folly. Later at the sea, Peter was found engaged in his old trade in catching the fishes without realizing that he was called by the Lord to be the fisher of men. But before he could make mistake Jesus already prayed for him in Luke 22:31-32 ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ By coming to the sea shore savior graciously opened the way to regain Peter’s status as a disciple. He asked him thrice, ‘do you love me?’ and then He asked him thrice to feed and tend His sheep. After resurrection Jesus came looking for Peter to reinstate him so that he may carry out the work of the Lord with other disciples.

Our Good Shepherd wants us that we should be faithful in our ministry. Many a times unknowingly we speak negative words and that becomes curse for us. Once I heard a pastor saying three times in great frustration ‘I’m not a pastor’ and few days later he was out of the pastoral ministry. We have to be very careful in what we speak. Jesus said, ‘for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matt. 12:37).’ No matter how great a person is, he may fall if he is not walking in the light of God’s Word. But God’s grace and forgiveness will restore the repentant. The best remedy to come out from the self-imposed curses as proposed by Derek Prince is to follow three successive steps: Repent- Revoke- Replace. Firstly, one has to acknowledge of making wrong confession and then repent; secondly, we must revoke it –that is we must unsay, or cancel, whatever we said it was wrong; lastly, we must replace our previous wrong confession with the right one.  These three steps taken in faith can release us from the snare.

Shepherd of my soul I give you full control,

Wherever You may lead I will follow.

I have made the choice to listen for Your voice,

                                                     Wherever You may lead I will go.                         Marty Nystrom