A Bittersweet Goodbye to John’s Gospel

Preparing to preach John 21 tomorrow morning has been bittersweet.
It has been sweet because it is one of the most precious texts in all the Bible for exhausted and insufficient fishers of men, failed disciples, aspiring pastors, and all those who just long to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. It has been bitter because I know I failed miserably to uncover the glory of this or any of the other preceding texts in this Gospel. It has been sweet because it brings to completion the first major book I have preached completely through as a pastor to my people here at Curve Baptist Church, and we have all basked in beholding the glory as of the only Son of the Father. It has been bitter because next week we will leave behind the earthly life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I feel a bit like the weeping Mary Magdalene: “they have taken away my Lord . . . ” And yet, like Mary, I can dry my eyes, because it is foolishness to seek the living among the dead. Whatever text we may find ourselves in on a given Lord’s Day could rightly be written in red letters, because as Peter tells us, every prophet has spoken by “the Spirit of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:11) And if anyone knows that voice, it’s Peter.

Sinclair Ferguson made a remark about a year ago as he finished a series on the Gospel of John that has stayed with me. He said that he would go home from church a little sad that day because it was very likely the last time he would work through John’s Gospel with a church in his lifetime. What an unspeakably great privilege it is to preach the Word of God each week. How long will the Lord tarry at the right hand of the Father and afford us this honor? How long will we be able to proclaim his excellencies? How many more times will we be granted the grace to mount the pulpit and feed the Sheep of the Chief Shepherd with the Gospel of grace? Oh, my cold heart! How could you treat this sacred office with contempt and indifference? Thank you for these six months in the Gospel of John!

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15


About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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