John 21: 15- 25
It has been a few weeks since we left off with the SEEING IS BELIVING series. We have been following the post resurrection appearances of Jesus. After He rose from the dead he remained and appeared to the disciples for forty days. Jesus appeared to over 500 people during those forty days.
In my last message, we were in John 21: 1 -15. Peter had quit being a disciple and went back to fishing. Nobody quits alone! He quit and six other disciples joined Peter as they went back to fishing. Remember, fishing was not recreation for them, something they did to get their heads straight. Fishing was a career, a job! They gave up on their calling and went back to fishing.
This is not unusual. Every pastor friend that I know has either quit, threatened to quit, thought about quitting, etc. Ministry can be frustrating and discouraging at times. It is great when you get the opportunity to see people come to Christ and grow in their faith and then there are times when the ministry isn’t growing, people walk away from you or you reflect on your own unworthiness. I have been there, but I have learned there is no quit! I always go back to what Peter forgot that he said in John 6:68: Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God” What do you quit too! There are no options, Jesus is the best thing going!
Peter and the disciples fish all night and catch nothing. Another lesson that I have learned. When you are not doing what Jesus calls you to, you will be unfruitful. You may make money and have worldly success but you will be totally empty.
Jesus is on the shore and tells them to fish on the other side of the boat. This is a familiar scene to Peter and the disciples. Wait! This is not déjà vu! This happened before! They cast the net on the other side and sure enough! The net becomes full of 153 fish!
John realizes that that was Jesus on the shore and tells Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter who is suffering from guilt and condemnation from his denial of Jesus dives in and swims to shore! Another lesson, when we have sinned and away from God, the best thing we can do is to turn and run to Him! That is what the word, “repentance” means! Peter does his best Michael Phelps impression and finds Jesus on the shore cooking them breakfast. That is where we will pick up the story today.
I remember a time when I was the Janitor at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church. I was laid off from the railroad and Father Paul Kuppe allowed me to work part time as Janitor. Being that I had to be at church in the morning for work I would go to daily mass. One morning I reluctantly went to mass as the night before I had gotten drunk and got in a fight. I had a black eye, I was hung over and full of guilt. When it came time for communion I did not go up. How could I take the Lord’s body and blood after being such a sinner the night before? When service was concluding Father Paul stopped and whispered in my ear as he was coming down the aisle. “Tim, when you do not take communion is when you need it the most!” That was 34 years ago! I have never forgotten that! When we are hurting, lost and away from the Lord His desire is to forgive, restore us and use us. That is the message today.
Have you or are you in a place that you feel like you are away from God? You are here today and that is a good thing. Have you ever been a place where you felt like what you have done and who you have becomeis so bad that you thought there is no hope, no forgiveness? How could the Lord ever forgive me, let alone ever use me again? Welcome to Peter’s club! Let’s sit down and have breakfast with Peter and Jesus in John 21: 15 – 25
Peter has come to the realization that through his denial and sin he has lost his devotion to Jesus. What is the use?
“Simon, son of John,” Jesus begins, “do you truly love me more than these?” The two of them are alone now. Jesus asks him to decide. But what are the choices? Does Peter love Jesus more than his fishing nets and boats, more than his house and family in the village, more than his quiet life in Galilee, more than the other disciples? Jesus means them all. After the first Easter, every part of Peter’s life crowded in to demand his devotion. He is trying to please them all. As a result, the Lord no longer has first place in his heart. Someone once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Jesus knows this. He once said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added as well” (Matthew 6:33). The Lord asks, ‘Do you truly love me first?’
Do we love Jesus more than we love ourselves? That is the question. When we choose sin, it is because we choose our own pleasure over our love for Him. We have all been there, haven’t we?
What Peter failed to realize is that he was already forgiven! When Jesus died on the cross He declared, “IT IS FINISHED!” JOHN 19: 30. The penalty and price for sin was paid for. Peter was off somewhere lamenting over his denials. He never heard Jesus say it! Yet, he should have known after the three years with Jesus but he did not.
My first point today is what Peter had not realized:
- We are forgiven!
That is GRACE! The minute Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know no what they do!’ and then declared “It is finished!” Peter and every person who ever put their trust in Christ were forgive of every sin they committed in the past, every sin they currently were in and every sin that they had not ever committed yet!
I always feel such a caution when I share about GRACE! Some people will run with it and take it as a license to sin! If God has already forgiven me then I can do what I want since I am already forgiven! That is a slippery slope to walk on!
What GRACE is meant to do, is realize that Jesus loves us so much that He was willing to pay such a price to forgive us. This should make us think twice when sin comes knocking at the door. How could I do this when He paid such a price to die for me! GRACE should make us sin less!
Peter is living in guilt and condemnation! That is an awful place to be! Have you been there? Of course, you have! For over a week Peter has been carrying this burden of sin that the Lord had already suffered and died for. If you are in sin and living with this guilt the Bible says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 What this means is that we have to acknowledge that we have sinned. We cannot just continue in our sin and expect the Lord’s forgiveness. That is what I was talking about in the dangers of sharing about the Grace of God. You do not have to confess to a man but you have to acknowledge to the Lord that you have sinned. Let me back up, you do not have to confess to a man, but sometimes that is helpful as it gives you accountability and there is a lot to be said about that. We need to move on just as Peter needs to move on to what Jesus is really doing in this scripture.
My second point is:
Jesus desires to restore us
This whole account of “Peter, do you love me?” three times is Jesus restoring Peter to his call and purpose.
Let me give you the definition of restoration: the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.
Why three times “Peter, do you love me?” Because that is Peter’s purpose and call as it is yours and mine. God said in Deuteronomy 6 and Jesus said in Matthew 22, Luke 10, Mark 12“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.a 5And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
What have you lost because of sin? Your marriage, family relationships, finances, a job, your health, your peace. Jesus desires to restore all of that and it starts by loving His once again with all you heart, soul, mind and strength.
Let me read to you from Joel 2 from verse 25. This the kind of restoration the Lord desires for you:
I will restored to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
26“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
The LORD Will Pour Out His Spirit
28e “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
The Lord has a purpose, a plan and a call for every one of us!
- Jesus call us
You have a call on your life! What is it? The same call that Peter had “Peter, do you love me?’ Tim, do you love me? Aimee do you love me? Phyllis do you love me? Jeff, do you love me? Betsy, do you love me?
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?e” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Feed my sheep!
Jesus never asked me, “Tim, do you love children?” He said do you love me? If I love Him then I will have the love necessary to love these kids the way I do. He is not asking you, do you love kids, teenager, the homeless, the prostitutes, etc. He is asking, do you love Him? If you do then you will love those he loves!
I was a children’s pastor in a church in Pittsburgh. We were reaching out to inner city kids all over Pittsburgh. That is how I met Jill. I was in kid’s church when a short, red hair lady, named Joann comes to me and says I want work with you so I can learn how to do children’s ministry. She was going to Zimbabwe and wanted to know how to teach and minister to children. I said, great I can use the help. Shen then informs me that she doesn’t like children! What? I reluctantly accepted her help and she worked with us in church and also outreach into some of the worst areas of Pittsburgh as we ministered to children. Joann moved to Zimbabwe and was key to helping a large church develop their children’s ministry and even adopted 2 Zimbabwe children. Did she love kids, not at first! Joann loved Jesus and was doing what he asked her to do because she loved Jesus!
Jesus forgave us on the cross. The price was paid, It is finished! That is grace. His desire is to restore us to all that is lost because of sin, sins of our fathers, our sins and even the sins of Adam and Eve. That restoration, begins here on earth and is fulfilled in heaven. For now, He calls us to love by loving others.
Do you know you are forgiven! If you are in sin, confess your sin to the Lord for He is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Love Him with everything you have and allow Him to restore you to everything He has for you. For now, Feed His lambs and feed His sheep. That means serve and love others so they will know Him like you know Him.
Thank God for John, Peter’s friend. Chapter 20 ends and it seems like he ends his Gospel. Then we see Chapter 21 and this story of Peter going fishing and breakfast by the sea. I believe God used John to share Peter’s restoration with us. If not we would have always known Peter as the one who denied Jesus three times. Now we know Him as “Peter do you love me?” Restored and used by God to lead the apostles and the early church.