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Sunday, November 26, 2017

posted Nov 29, 2017, 2:30 AM by Site Administrator   [ updated Nov 29, 2017, 2:31 AM ]



John 21:15-25

Key Verse 21:15


       First, "Come and have breakfast" (1-14). Chapter 21 is the epilogue to John's Gospel. It begins saying “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias”, which is in Galilee. According to verse 14 of today's passage this was now the 3rd time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. The first time was the evening of his resurrection. The disciples were together behind locked doors – locked due to their fear of the Jews. Then, the Risen Jesus came, stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” However the disciple Thomas was not with them. So when he heard about this, he doubted and insisted upon seeing Jesus with his own eyes. Then one week later, Jesus appeared to them a 2nd time to encourage them, saying “Stop doubting and believe.” After already 2 appearances, what were the circumstances surrounding Jesus coming to his disciples a 3rd time? Apostle John begins saying, “It happened this way...” So let's check it out.


       Verse 2 reads that seven of the disciples were together. What were these seven apostles of Jesus doing together? We would think maybe they were engaged in an intense prayer battle, sweating a lot. Or maybe having a powerful group Bible study. But the passage does not mention anything like that. Simply they were together, back home in Galilee. What?! They just experienced 2 exciting events in Jerusalem: they saw Jesus after his resurrection with their own eyes and these appearances gave them proof he was alive so they could put their faith in the Risen Christ. So what were they doing back at home? As time passed, their excitement and high spirits dwindled. The harsh realities of life hit them hard. They later became anxious about their future, thinking about what should they do? Where should they go? Most importantly how would they survive? How would they secure their 3 meals a day? Now that Jesus was not with them such thoughts consumed their minds. They must have spent a lot of time in Peter's living room just staring blankly at each other, wondering what to do. Of course, none of them wanted to live their lives being overwhelmed by insecurities and fears. So after a few weeks of sitting around and making small talk, Simon Peter couldn't take it anymore. He said, “I'm going out to fish.” The 6 other disciples said, “We'll go with you.” All together, they made a decision to do something, anything, even if it meant returning to their old lives as fishermen. Did Peter and the disciples intend to rebel against Jesus? Definitely not. However when they let anxieties about their practical matters get the best of them Peter became the ringleader of the runaways and they all shamefully went back to their old way of life. Now the 3 years they had spent with Jesus were just a beautiful memory.


       Look at verse 3B, starting from “ they went” How was their fishing trip? At first it was really soothing to do something familiar and get their minds off their failure. But as the night wore on things did not look good. Despite all their hard work that night, they caught nothing. At one time, these were professional fishermen, even with their own fishing businesses. But now even with 7 of them together, they had not caught a single fish after a whole night. It is like a professional NBA athlete who returns to the court at the start of the new season, but cannot make one free throw after many hours of trying. How does he feel? Like a nobody. Like a complete failure. So he walks out the gym with his head hung low, sobbing because he feels life is over for him. This was the disciples' condition. They were utterly discouraged, and their spirits were shattered. It seemed this would be the new theme of their life: things only getting worse and worse. But to the Risen Christ, things were not over.


       Look at verse 4. Early in the morning, he visited his disciples on the shore and called out to them “Friends, haven't you any fish?” Their hearts were too clouded with frustration sorrow and sense of failure, so they did not realize that it was Jesus. Maybe they thought he was a reporter from the local paper trying to get the early morning fishing report. So, fully embarrassed and ashamed, they answered back “No”. Then the stranger said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did so they caught such a large number of fish they were unable to haul the net in. Wow, what a way to recover from their failure! Now when John saw this great catch of fish he was reminded of the miracle Jesus performed 3 years ago on this very shore. So John knew who they were speaking to and in his excitement he said to Peter “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon heard that it was the Lord, he could not contain his joy. He wrapped his outer garment around him and cannon-balled into the water. It's strange that Peter put on his clothes to go swimming when people always do the opposite. But this shows his utmost respect for his Master. Although he wanted to get to Jesus ASAP he did not dare appear before him in his undergarments. Peters love for Jesus was impulsive but at the same time full of respect. The other disciples followed in the boat pulling the net full of fish to shore.


       Verse 9 says when the disciples landed they saw a fire of burning coals with fish on it, and some bread. The disciples realized that Jesus prepared a beachside breakfast with an outdoor fire pit, just for them. It meant that the Risen Christ came to the shore very early in the morning while it was still dark. While waiting for them there he was concerned that they might be cold. So he kindled a fire of burning coals especially for them. He was also concerned that they might be hungry. So he baked some bread and grilled some fish, so that they might eat and fill their empty stomachs. Although the day had just begun, with the sun barely rising on the horizon of the sea, Jesus had a tasty breakfast by a hot fire ready for his disciples to enjoy. Jesus was like a gracious mother who is so mindful of the needs of her children. As the disciples stood there amazed, Jesus said to them “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. As the others stood there shivering under their damp clothes in the chilly morning, the heat of the burning coals beckoned them closer to the fire pit. The closer they gathered the pleasant aroma of the cooked fish made their mouths water. They anticipated taking that first bite of the fish, with its crispy seasoned skin and tender meat. Also the sight of the golden brown freshly baked bread rolls was irresistible.


       At that time Jesus invited them saying “Come and have breakfast.” At Jesus' invitation did they respond saying “Thank you Lord!” and start digging in? No, not one of them said a word, nor did any of them even move. None of them dared ask him “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. The disciples stood before Jesus quiet and so ashamed because they did what was wrong. When the situation got tough their love for Jesus changed. But now they were speechless that Jesus showed them the same burning love he always had for them. Their love for Jesus had burnt out, but Jesus' love for them had not changed at all. Instead his love for his disciples remained as hot as the fire pit of burning coals. Even though they had failed him terribly, Jesus had no intention to mention about their failures nor to rebuke them for running away. He only said “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” and “Come and have breakfast.” His words here are so beautiful. Jesus was trying to show that he accepted them and even wanted to have eating fellowship with them. They did not deserve this, but this is what the Risen Lord wanted. So like a gracious host, Jesus served each of them breakfast one by one like his own child. He took the bread the fish and gave it to them, so generously and personally. Jesus' burning love melted their cold and broken hearts. With this they could lift up their heads and then the meal became a beautiful beachside breakfast.


       Here we see the Risen Christ coming to the shore of Galilee to restore his disciples’ broken spirits and rekindle his love relationship with them. Jesus confirmed his love for them through his actions, helping them to have a great catch of fish and preparing a beautiful seaside picnic. We praise Jesus for his burning love, which keeps no record of wrongs. In the same way Jesus visits us in our lowly place and invites us to have beautiful fellowship with him.


       When I was a year old my mom and dad broke up, so I grew up in my father's absence. This resulted in me longing to fill the place of a male figure in my life. In high school I even began developing homosexual desires for other men. I grew up going to church from a young age in a very conservative culture, so I felt this was not right. However, I was gripped by the desires of my heart. I began school at CSULB in the Fall of 2010. I was excited to not only pursue my career as a filmmaker but make new friends. Soon, I found a new group of people in the dorms to spend time with. I began to smoke marijuana with them endlessly and drink on the weekends. This was a way of life I was not familiar with as I had always been a smart church-going boy. But now I was becoming a wild party animal. This way of life at first seemed fun, but it was becoming a nightmare. My grades began to drop, my money was being wasted, and I grew into a depression. When I was high, demons tormented my mind with thoughts of meaninglessness and suicide. They said, “If your father doesn't love you, who does?” Although I put on a smile and laughed with my peers, I was dying inside, not knowing how I stand to go on this way for one more day.


       Then one day, God sent his servant to me. He asked if I would be interested in a Bible study and I said “Okay.” Although my answer was not so enthusiastic, to me this Bible Study invitation was the gleam of hope while I was suffering deep darkness. Each time we met I never remembered much of what we studied but I couldn't deny the deep peace I had whenever I left Bible Study. Then I was struck very personally in Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus said to the paralytic in 2:5 “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knew that I was deep in a sinful life, with such a perverted heart. But still he accepted me as his son and was willing to forgive me. This was a deep love I had never known before, but it was exactly what I had always wanted. Jesus' love became very real and personal to me. Then I was invited to study Summer Genesis and I was thrilled that Bible Study was not just for the school semester, but I could continue to enjoy Gods word in the Summer. Through intensive Genesis Bible Study and testimony writing God was preparing me to serve him for the upcoming school semester. I was excited especially now that God offered me his covenant vision in chapter 12:1-3 to leave my old life then he would make me into a great nation.


       One morning of last November, I heard the news of my dad's tragic car accident. This event really shook me to my core. If there was anyone I wanted to make proud it was my dad, but I had to bury him just a few months prior to my college graduation. Furthermore, I was discouraged that I had served campus mission for some years with no fruit. I felt like I was entering the real world as a loser with nothing to show. Eventually I was overwhelmed by anxiety and entertained a fatalistic view of my future. I sunk into a deep depression, began to drink and sometimes would lay in bed all day.


Eventually after some online research there was an opening for a low-income apartment I could afford even with my minimum wage part time pay. The landlord said that soon I would have a roommate. He came all the way from NY. After meeting and talking with him we found out we were cousins. I couldn't believe that out of all the apartments in Los Angeles my own cousin whom I have never met came across the country and moved into this one. After explaining this to my landlord, he said “That's God's work.” Around the same time I moved into the apartment, a family friend referred me to a job at a Marriott Hotel. The interview with the GM and AGM went very well and about two weeks later, I was hired. I’m surprised at how successful I have been at this job. Despite my short amount of time working here, just about 6 months, the GM awarded me employee of the month, he promoted me to supervisor, and many guests have mentioned me for good customer service on the hotel website. I don’t think I am such a great worker but when I brought this to the attention of the AGM she said, “The only way to explain all this is that you are highly favored”. These recent events in my life in the past few months remind me of the disciples’ miraculous catch of fish in this passage. Just like Jesus did with the disciples, he intervened in my situation, my housing matter and job matter with miraculous catches of a cheap apartment, a good roommate, and a suitable job which I have prospered at. Like Apostle John the only conclusion of all these things is “It is the Lord.”


Still there is a burden in my heart because the focus is not the miraculous catch, but the one who did this for me very personally. Like the disciples standing on the beach cold and hungry, I am still ashamed at how I have treated him. It is shameful that I ever let my circumstance get the best of me to the point that I abandoned him. What could I possibly say to my Lord? Where do I go from here? This is when Jesus says, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught” and “Come and have breakfast.” Here I see that all along Jesus’ intention was to call me to himself. I mistreated and abandoned him. But he never forgot about me. He arranged all things, in such a divine way, so that eventually our relationship could be restored. My fear was ending up as a loser in this world and in God. But as long as I am in the passionate relationship with Jesus there is no such thing as loss, because he satisfies my deepest heart’s desire for love. Despite my weakness and unlovely character Jesus wants to spend time with me, so he prepares a hot meal and invites me to enjoy saying, “Come and have breakfast.” Here I am encouraged to not focus on my circumstances too much, whether rich or poor, fruitful or barren. I must respond to Jesus’ love for me which is unchanging. With this I rededicate my heart to Jesus and renew my NYKV Jeremiah 29:11 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Rather than seeking out another drink, another friend, or an easygoing life I must seek my Lord Jesus wholeheartedly.


       Second, “‘Feed my sheep’” (17). After they had all enjoyed their lake side meal on the beach, they were now in good conversation, smiling more at one another, and talking more freely. It was a beautiful scene as the sun was coming up over the horizon. At that time, Jesus turned towards Peter and asked, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more that these?” Jesus questioned if Peter loved Him “more than these.” What was He referring to in mentioning “these”? “These” could have referred to his fellow disciple friends, or relationships. “These” could also have referred to the great catch of fish they had, or security and money. Basically, anything else that occupied and attracted Peter’s heart. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than these things.


How did Peter respond? Look at verse 15b.


“Yes, Lord” he said, “you know that I love you.”


In the past, Peter might have responded by saying “If I don’t love you, then who else Lord?” Before, in John 13:37, Peter boldly declared his love and said, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you,” and in John 18:10 Peter cut off the high priest’s servant ear to protect Jesus. His love was bold, but actually Jesus rebuked him after both of these acts of love and did not accept this confession. But, this time he had no grounds for such boldness and self-confidence. In John 18:25-27, Peter disowned Jesus verbally three times and now in John 21 he became the ring leader of leading the disciples back into their old life of fishing. Compared with what he said before, this confession of love sounded weak and not very convincing; it was dependent upon Jesus knowing that Peter loved Him. However, this is actually what Jesus accepted compared with what Peter had said in previous passages.


As a response, Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus showed that regardless of what had happened, this is what he should do if he loved Jesus from now on. Feeding Jesus’ lambs represented bringing the word of God to new believers and non-believers. Jesus did not just want Peter’s bold words of mouth, but instead that Peter would practically dedicate his life to Him. Through this, Jesus also shows that what he really desired from Peter was a love relationship. Not only a short term friendship or business relationship, but a BFFL (Best Friends For Life) love relationship. Jesus was not interested in Peter’s money, success, or talents, but instead Jesus wanted Peter’s heart. At the beginning of John 21, Jesus demonstrated His unconditional love for Peter and the disciple when He cooked and served them fish and bread breakfast even after they went to their old life. Peter saw that Jesus really loved him. Now Jesus showed him the way that he could love Him in return; this was by feeding Jesus lambs, or bringing the word of God to new believers and non-believers. Jesus also showed His love and value for Peter by entrusting feeding these little lambs into his hands. In Jesus’ eyes, these lambs are very precious to Him, just like diamonds. Now, in the way that Peter would take care of these lambs would be the way in which Peter could show love to Jesus. In another passage, Jesus mentions this in similar way by saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matt 25:40).


       What if Peter was not very fond of this direction and it might not be what he imagined dedicating his life too? He probably hoped to be successful in the world and enjoy a comfortable life. However, this way would lead him to a truly meaningful life. Also, by doing something he was not initially inclined to do he would prove that he only did this because of Jesus alone and thus make a true love confession. Soon, Jesus would go to heaven and Peter would not see Jesus physically anymore. But lambs were very alive and real in his practical life. Jesus was showing to Peter the way that he could show true love to Jesus was by taking care of God’s flock.


Look at verses 16 through 17. Let’s read these together.


16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord you know all things you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”


       Jesus asked this question to Peter again two more times. Finally, Jesus was asking Peter if he even loved Him at all. Peter agreed both times, relying on Jesus knowing his love for Him. As Peter heard Jesus’ questions “Do you love me?” spoken in his heart and confessed that he loved Jesus, he could not hold onto his past failures, and instead he could start to open his heart to Jesus and be freed from guilt and shame. In response Jesus mentioned about His flock again; this time he said, “Take care of my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.” Sheep refer to growing believers, and taking care of them means being concerned about their entire wellbeing. Again, Jesus showed that the way that he could love Jesus and even must love Jesus was by caring for His flock. The third time Jesus asked this, Peter was hurt. Nowhere else in the Bible do we see Jesus pressing anyone this hard. Why was Jesus doing this? Jesus did this to give Peter a chance for him to sincerely confess his love to Him and thereby be restored from his past failures. Jesus was gracious and did not want Peter to keep counting his loses but instead to vocalize his love and focus on how to love Jesus from now on.


       In the same way that Jesus said this to Peter, He can say this to us. He calls us by our full name and then ask us, do you truly love me more than these, more than anything else? More than you dream for money, success, marriage, your friends, pleasures, or a comfortable life? If so, then feed my lambs. Do you truly love me? Then take care of my sheep. Do you love me? Then feed my sheep. This is how we can practically love Jesus. Many Christians wonder, “What does Jesus want me to do?” They want to love Jesus, but they don’t know how to. Jesus shows here what we should do, it is to feed and take care of his sheep and lambs.


Look at verses 18 through 19. Let’s read these together:


18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”


Jesus now showed how Peter’s life would go and eventually end as he lived this life of loving Jesus by feeding and taking care of His sheep and lambs. Before, when he was younger, he dressed himself and went where he wanted. He lived his life in the way that he pleased, enjoying his human liberty to the full. If he wanted, he would have Jewish parties with friends every night or he would wear whatever fashionable robe he liked. However, now he would stretch out his hands and someone else would dress him and lead him where he did not want to go. He would no longer live life however he wanted, but instead Jesus’ sheep and lambs would determine his life and schedule. Sometimes he might be tired and might just want to relax at home, but still he would go to Bible Study to teach and care for Jesus’ flock because this is how he could love Jesus.



In the same way, apart from God, we had this kind of liberty and freedom for ourselves. We were the captains of our own ships. But, upon accepting Jesus’ calling, our lives become centered around His flock, instead of around ourselves. We start to live for teaching and taking care of sheep and lambs, similar to how some people live for basketball, with shirts that say “eat, sleep, ball, repeat.” This was Peter’s new life direction and eventually he would even die for this cause and glorify God through it. Tradition says that Peter was eventually crucified upside down for his faith, and hence why Jesus would have mentioned outstretched hands as in the position for crucifixion. Peter would serve God’s flock even by his death. Then Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me!”


       Once Jesus showed him everything, it seemed challenging and even scary to live and die for Jesus’ flock, but Peter accepted this new direction for his entire life because he loved Jesus. It was a great response. However, in verse 21, Peter demonstrated that he had one condition. It was if John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, would come along with him. As they were walking, Peter complained, “Lord, what about him?” It seems that Peter was asking Jesus, isn’t it time to deliver the same message to John? But, Jesus did not agree to this and instead challenged Peter by saying, “…what is that to you? You must follow me.” Whether John enjoyed his life or suffered a lot, if he stayed alive or if he was martyred, Peter must still live this way. After accepting Jesus’ message to live for his flock, we also may think to ourselves, “Lord, what about others?” such as other Christians who don’t struggle this way. Jesus says to us, “…what is that to you? You must follow me.” Jesus shows that no matter what others do, you must follow him and you must profess your love for him by giving your life to feeding and taking care of his sheep and lambs.


       I was raised up in a family with one brother, a mother, and father. I was home-schooled until 6th grade and thus, I was pretty naïve towards things of the world at first. However, upon entering private middle school I started dating and in high school I was exposed to marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, and parties. Although I sensed that I became more social and had more friends than before, I also had many more questions and was becoming depressed and confused. During high school, I also joined a company, Vemma, through which I hoped and believed that I could become a millionaire by the end of college and change the world for the better.


       In 2013, I was accepted at USC and had hope for my future, but I was still empty and confused and sought the purpose of my life and what truth was. As a result, I became curious about religion. Somehow, during my senior year, I became the drummer for the high school ministry of my childhood church and I joined their senior small group. I also attended a Christian retreat where I would encounter a divine experience with God in prayer and come to realize that God was what I should pursue as the goal of my life. I sensed God reaching out to me, but a girl and success in the world distract me from positively responding and when I came to USC in fall 2013 I would continue a worldly life style of parties and drinking my first couple weeks.


       During my first semester at USC I sought belonging and would face a decision to join a Christian or social fraternity. Should I have chosen the social one, I saw that my worldly lifestyle would only increase. Thankfully, somehow God helped me chose the Christian one. Although I didn’t believe in God yet, in a few weeks, at a time when I was really depressed and confused about life, I realized that I could not keep pushing God away and that I needed Him in my heart and life. So, after speaking with a fraternity member, God helped me to decide that I should put my trust in Jesus to do whatever He wanted me to do. For some reason I knew that although everything and everyone failed me, God was really trustworthy and would not fail me. I remembered the Hymn titled On Christ The Solid Rock and held mainly onto the verses Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” The following days I was happy and had a kind of spiritual high, I was even encouraged by God through people’s cards and comments. Yet, I was still directionless. But God did not leave me alone. Amazingly, the night I put my trust to follow whichever guidance God gives me was October 23, 2013. One month later, November 25, 2013, I had my first Bible Study. God responded to my situation in one month to show what He wanted me to do! I also longed to find someone to imitate in my life so that I could have a truly successful, meaningful, and wonderful life. There was no one I found like this in my past life, but one night my shepherd said, “follow me,” in a car ride to my home. I was confident that God was showing me that by following my shepherd I could come to God and be successful in the true sense. Then God helped to remove elements of sin and I started giving up parties, smoking, and drinking. Miraculously, God even would help me to leave the company Vemma. Although I was very invested, God helped me to leave without much trouble and take my focus off a financial dream. God actually saved from there as I was deceived by its promises and it was eventually labeled a pyramid scheme and shut down.


       My shepherd and I studied Genesis intensive Bible Studies in the summer of 2014. Here God gave me my current life key verse Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God helped me to see that I was His creation and that only He could help me to live the really wonderful and fulfilling life that I hoped for. I also received the verse Mark 8:35 from one of my shepherd’s stories, "35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." Through this, God again showed me that only He had the answer to a wonderful life and I was reassured that following His directions was the way to save my life really. After Genesis Bible studies were over, I began serving God's work in fall 2014, teaching the Bible to several students at USC.


At school, God convicted me to let go of my minor in cyber security around my junior year, so that I could spend more time for God's work. It was challenging because I thought that this minor would help me get a job after graduation. But I sensed that in this way, God was asking me to take my focus from my career and entrust all those matters in God’s hands. I accepted this challenge and entrusted my career matter in God's hands, and focused on serving God's work. Also, although I didn’t really like the direction, my shepherd encouraged me to continually to study hard in school. Yet, through this I sense God has helped train me to be a more diligent and disciplined worker. I have seen God’s help in my classes. In my freshman year, my GPA was not very good and I had little motivation. I was even warned by the fraternity to get my grades up. But as I served God's work, God helped my grades improve and I had a 3.7 GPA for my last senior semester in spring 2017, even if I had less time to study, due to serving God's mission. Then 3 months after graduating and 6 months of only job rejections, God blessed me to receive 4 job offers in the same week and I accepted one to work as a Junior Data Analyst. It was really God’s hand as He also blessed my roommate with the same kind of job in the same week. God also provided for me a very suitable place to stay just at the right time with a brother from church. I was continually well provided for by God. The cross that I now carry is a full-time job where I feel not very competent compared with my co-workers and endure some challenges, yet I sense God is still with me as He was before. The challenges that I face are different from before, but one things seems to continually stand out and that is to serve God’s kingdom work.


       This passage helps me to also see the importance of the mission, but also its focus on it being a response to Jesus’ love. As Jesus’ words “Peter, do you truly love me more than these?” was repeated through the passage and in my heart, I could not be stuck focusing on my past and being burdened about it, but instead now I could focus on making a confession of love to Jesus. Jesus shows His desire to restore me from my failures so I can continually love Him. I am also touched that what Jesus really desires is a real love relationship with me. He is not interested using me or after my money, but instead He desires my heart and my complete devotion to Him. In the beginning of my Christian life, I was primarily focused on the excitement of the mission and on having great results. But, this helps to change my view towards Jesus and that serving God’s work is actually my confession of love to Jesus. Now Jesus gives to me the direction that if I love Him more than my dream for future success or anything else, then I should give my entire life to feeding and caring for His flock. I wholeheartedly respond to this by accepting Jesus’ direction and now will struggle to live this way all my life until I see Him face to face.


One word: “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said. “Feed my sheep.”