Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 28

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 28


John 21:15–23

The 19th century English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem titled “How Do I Love Thee?” Her poem is an expression of love for her husband. The Church is the bride of Christ. Perhaps as believers we need to ask the question, “How do we love Jesus?” The risen Jesus noticed that the church at Ephesus had cooled in its love. “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4).

Do You? (15–17)

Failure is a reality for followers of Christ. Perhaps the charcoal fire on the shore reminded Peter of his failure when he denied his relationship with Jesus as he stood by a fire and was asked by a lowly servant girl if he was a disciple of Jesus (18:17–18). Peter’s failure raises questions about the possibility of restoration.

This passage reminds believers that God offers grace even when we fail. Jesus asked Peter a personal question: “Do you love Me more than these?” Jesus’ question could be understood in different ways. He could have been asking Peter if he loved Him more than his fishing boat and fish? More likely, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than the other disciples?” On the night before the crucifixion, Peter boldly claimed, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33).

The other disciples abandoned Jesus. Peter denied Jesus — seemingly a worse offense. Jesus asked Peter three times about his love for Jesus. Perhaps there is a connection between the threefold denial of Peter and the three questions Jesus asked Peter about the reality of his love. When Peter expressed his love for Jesus, Jesus restored Peter by charging him with three commands: Feed my lambs. Shepherd my sheep. Feed my sheep. Believers demonstrate their love for Jesus by obedience. What does your obedience or lack of obedience reveal about your love for Jesus? Do you practice selective obedience?

Will You? (18–19)

In Luke 14:28–33, Jesus used the illustration of building a tower to make a major point — count the cost. In our passage in John, Jesus told Peter of his forthcoming martyrdom. Then Jesus commanded Peter, “Follow me!”

In America few believers die for their faith. Open Doors ministry monitors Christian persecution. According to Open Doors, in 2019 more than 245 million Christians lived in areas with high levels of persecution, 4,305 Christians died for their faith, almost 2,000 churches were attacked and more than 3,000 believers were detained or arrested without trial.

Believers need to ask the question, “Would I be faithful in persecution?” According to church tradition, Peter experienced martyrdom around A.D. 64 under Emperor Nero and was crucified upside down because he did not want to die in the same manner as Jesus. Jesus predicted Peter’s martyrdom and then immediately commanded Peter, “Follow me!”

What about …? (20–23)

Misery loves company. After Jesus commanded Peter to follow Him to martyrdom, Peter asked, “Lord, what about [John]?” In essence, Jesus responded to Peter’s question with a rebuke. “What is that to you? You must follow Me!”

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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