July 5 2020 New Beginnings 3 - Peter - Our Failures Can Open Us Up to Loving Others
9th July 2020
We ask that You would heal this land of all that is going on – this great relational divide that needs to be healed. May Your followers be peacemakers – we’ll never inherit the earth as divide-makers!
John 21:2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
Peter goes back to what he is good at – fishing. He had failed at discipleship and went back to what he knew. He is doubting he could ever fulfill Jesus’ call on his life. Maybe in his heart he felt like he couldn’t do it.
4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch." So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
Peter had seen this before – After a day of preaching – let’s go out fishing, Jesus said – after they hadn’t caught anything at all the night before – and the catch was overwhelming, and Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God right then and there. Jesus takes peter back to that point.
Sometimes we need to return to the place of our calling – when God called us to the work of discipleship that He has called us to – and that hasn’t changed. When we think of that calling – maybe looking back we realize we didn’t understand everything about it – but the calling itself has not changed at all.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.
Peter just threw himself into the sea. Now, we might think that there is a proper discipleship personality – but we see with Peter that God can take any personality – and He does. He might need to refine that personality…
We have two grandchildren who are brothers – and one is like Peter – he throws himself into everything! The other is cautious and calculating. Neither is a good or bad or right way to be – but as they grow up, God can take the best parts of our personality to be used for Him
8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.
Jesus had already made them breakfast – or lunch – but Jesus has made them a meal – and I think there are some symbolic things with this. How did He do this? He could have just said – POOF! Or Abracadabra!
Did He build a fire – did He catch or buy some fish and bread? The resurrected Christ – the servant heart – thought enough to make a meal. SO there is this deep concern for real things.
Christians often think of the resurrection as a spiritual only thing – but it is very much a human body thing! We see him doing this often – making a meal, eating a meal… -
Meals were a part of partnership and discipleship – we are all together with this.
10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have now caught." 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.
So he asks the disciples to contribute to this meal. Jesus could have cooked all the fish that was needed without them – but God wants to accomplish His work using what we have to offer. We like to think we have to do stuff ‘for God’ – but it is better to do stuff ‘with God’ –
Jesus supplies the resources – but He wants us to partner with Him in His work – and He opens it up for our efforts, gifts, and talents – and our creativity! Let’s go with THAT! He says!
Sometimes we say – Tell me what to do, God – and He is saying – What do you want to do? Let’s go with that!
To bring this to right now – COVID and all that has happened in the past 4 months – God is wanting to do something with this in the Church – and also in churches. God is at work- how do we partner with Him? How do we adapt our worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission? God wants to do something new now. What might that look like? Are we even asking that question?
How will social distancing, which may be with us for a while – change things? What might God want to do? This is not prophetic – just me wondering! And I ask – maybe God wants church to become smaller. Not that church’s membership numbers should drop – but maybe He wants us to have smaller, more intimate worship gatherings. Or maybe there is something about the way we do church that God is saying – maybe you are missing something. There are a lot of good things that are done…
Think about the way the first century did church – it is nothing like today. They met in homes, and secretly, and in many different ways. Maybe God wants to make big shifts in the way things are done. “Now is the time to make some really big changes!”
Like the reformation – doing everything different! A lot of great revivals brought about significant change.
At first – we started this live-streaming – and thought – this is really valuable, everyone has a phone in their pocket – and then, as we gather together, we are rediscovering the importance of connecting in relationships. Maybe that is another thing – maybe God is saying – let’s think differently!
15 So 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, "Tend My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep.
So Jesus, here, focuses in on Peter and presents a fresh start in his relationship with Jesus. Earlier, Peter denied him 3 times. Jesus knows that.
Do you love me more than these? Could mean two things… - what are the these? The first possibility – the fish… Peter, do you love me more than your old life – the way you have done things? Do you love me more?
Or – do you love me more than the other disciples? That might be an odd question – but when you look back to the last supper – One of you will betray me – you will forsake me – Peter – NOT ME! I love you more than all the others…
It could be Jesus was referring back to this…
Love – first time – self-sacrificial love – Jesus replies with a warm-friendship type of love. It may or may not be as significant as we think. What I think is significant is helping Peter reaffirm the relationships. He is not saying it 3 times to say “I have this God-sacrificial type of love for you” – I think it is an opportunity to reaffirm his love the same number of times he denied Him.
He is not telling Peter that he needs to love Him more – but LOVE MY PEOPLE! Tend/shepherd My sheep – protect, care for, guide, feed – my sheep. It is not about Peter getting his ratings up – it is about him becoming others’ oriented.
After we fail, we are to turn our attention to serving others at whatever capacity we are able. Whom can we serve, love, protect, and care for? Who are they? Family… Those outside of family – it can’t stop at just family. Everyone’s capacity will be different.
Looking out for others’ interests – in those we serve – ask, what are their genuine, real needs.
You’ve probably read the 5 love languages – and our tendency is to love others the way we want to be loved. But that doesn’t ask – What does the other need? Show me you love me! Some say – others say – Tell me you love me! Use words! If you are a ShowMeYouLoveMe and you are with a TellMeYouLoveMe… - you might not be meeting the others’ needs!
18 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." 19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"
You are going to get plenty of chances…
20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
Peter had a comparison problem. What about THEM!
Or Mary/Martha – why is she not pulling her weight?
Or “I’m not as good as others”
Or “That person is more successful – so I’ll try to do what they are doing”
The worst thing we can do is to compare ourselves with others – we are without understanding when we try to compare, Paul says. We need to find our special, unique calling and discover what God is doing there and join Him. And a huge part of that calling – we will find it through our failures – and our failures will allow us to be more effective in loving others. God uses those to open avenues for ministry.