Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Think of the last telephone call you have received from a charity seeking donations. How did you respond? What is your thought process when deciding whether to give financial support to a cause and how much to give?
2. What is a zealot? Name some people or groups of people that could be described as zealots for a cause. Is there a cause for which you might be called a zealot? Explain.
Read John 21:15-17.
1. To what do you think Jesus was referring when he asked Peter if he loved him “more than these”? (His old life as a fisherman? The other disciples?) Consider the statement Peter made at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:33) and his actions after Jesus’ arrest. How does that give context to Jesus’ question?
2. Peter had earlier proclaimed that he loved Jesus so much that he would die for him. What did Jesus say was necessary for Peter to live out his love for him? Knowing a little of Peter’s personality, do you think it would have been harder for him to suffer martyrdom in one big blaze of glory or to live a life of humble service for the next decades? Why?
Read John 21:18-23.
3. At that point, Jesus made a prediction about Peter’s future. From what Jesus said, what can we learn about the who, what, when, and why of Peter’s death?
4. The Bible consistently reveals the unvarnished humanity of people. Why do you think Peter’s reaction to the prediction of his martyrdom is a typical human response?
5. In a play, a character is said to “break the fourth wall” when he steps out of the action to address the audience directly. Most likely, John was an old man and Peter had died 20–30 years before John wrote these words. Why do you think he decided to directly address his readers and acknowledge the rumor referenced here?
Read John 21:24, 25.
6. Although John did not live forever, he did outlive most if not all other eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry. Taking John 21:24 together with 1 John 1:1-3 explain why you think God allowed John to have such a long life.
7. By the time John wrote, the other three Gospels had probably been widely circulated. Since John repeated little of what is found in those Gospels, what would have been a logical question from his readers? How does he answer that question in John 21:25?
8. Pretend you just received a phone call from Jesus, asking you to follow him. What might he ask you to do to live a zealous life of love for him?