BELIEVE: FAITH-INSPIRING MIRACLES

JOHN 20:30-31

“THE GOD OF THE SECOND CHANCE”

JOHN 21:1-19

 

In the comic strip, Dennis The Menace, (and no it wasn’t named after me), Dennis is kneeling at his bedside.  He is saying his bedtime prayer.  He has his hands folded.  He is looking heavenward.  Dennis has on his pajamas, cowboy hat, cowboy boots and his six-shooter strapped to his side.  Dennis prays, “I’m here to turn myself in.”

 

Have you ever felt like Dennis?  Couldn’t we all pray that prayer?  I want to talk with you today about failure and about how God gives us a second chance.

 

We are not alone in our failures.  The proof of that is in the Bible. Max Lucado wrote:

 

We call Abraham our hero, but he once refused to call his wife his wife.  We delight in the words of David. Yet David was known to delight in the wife of a friend. Rahab is one of a handful of females in the genealogy of Jesus.  She was also a madam in the world’s oldest profession.  Paul killed Christians before he taught them.  James and John were  “Sons of Thunder” before they became apostles of peace.  The followers of Jesus squabbled like children before they died like martyrs.  The Bible is full of famous failures.

 

“We name our children after them.  We sing songs about them.  We set out to imitate them.  But let’s be honest.  There isn’t a human in the Bible who didn’t behave like one.  They wore the pig slop of the prodigal, each and every one of them.  And so do we.”

 

Like the heroes and heroines of the Bible, we have to admit that we have failed.  Sometimes we have fallen hard and far.  We have fallen enough to leave us wondering- “Will God forgive me and will God ever use me again.”

 

If that is how you feel, you can take comfort and receive reassurance from a miraculous encounter that the apostle Peter had with the resurrected Jesus on the shore of Galilee.

 

You remember Peter, don’t you?  Even more so, you probably recall his sin.  Peter tops the famous failures list.  He committed the colossal sin of denying Jesus.  He had promised to never disown Jesus and yet he did.  His resolve was short-lived.  And as Jesus went to the cross to die, Peter ran to hide in the shadow of shame.

 

If every, there was anyone who might not be forgiven, it was Simon Peter.  And yet, in amazing acts of grace, Jesus forgives Peter, reaffirms Peter and restores Peter to ministry.

 

He will do the same for you. Today we will look at what Jesus invited Peter to do, and what he invites us to do following our failures.  First…..

 

  1. CONTINUE TO FOLLOW JESUS

 

Peter’s relationship with Jesus had begun on the Sea of Galilee.  His relationship with Jesus would be restored on the same seashore.  There was an indication that Jesus would reconcile with Peter shortly after his resurrection.  We read about that in Mark 16:7.  In that verse, an angel had a message that the women at Jesus’ empty tomb were to take back to the apostles:

 

“But go tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.’” -Mark 16:7

 

“AND PETER”.  The angel, no doubt on the instruction of Christ, told the women to make sure that Peter gets the message to meet him.  Don’t let him miss out.  Don’t let Peter exclude himself. 

 

Let’s read about the meeting that Jesus had with Peter on that shore on that day.

READ JOHN 21:1-14.

 

This was a De Ja Vu moment for the disciples.  This same thing, the disciples fishing all night long without getting a nibble, then Jesus suggesting letting their nets down again and a miraculous catch of fish had happened before.  It was on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus first invited Peter to follow him.  And now, on that same shore, 3 ½ years later, Jesus invited Peter to, once again, follow him.

As the disciples are trying to haul in the miraculous caught of fish, John realizes that it is Jesus who was on shore.  He leans over and whispers to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  Peter doesn’t waste any time.  He can’t wait for the boat to dock.  He jumps into the water and swims to shore.  He had to get to Jesus.

 

When he gets to the shore, Jesus has breakfast waiting.  There’s biscuits in the oven, fish tacos on the grill, and coffee on the stove.  Well, the Scripture doesn’t say that there was coffee, but I’d like to think there was.  But there was bread and fish.  And Jesus invites Peter to have breakfast with him.

 

The fish were cooking over a fire of burning coals.  The last time Peter had been around a fire was when he had failed Jesus.  This time he would receive grace. 

 

His invitation to breakfast was a way for Jesus to communicate to Peter that Peter still was a disciple.  Jesus was saying to Peter- “I’m not giving up on you.  Don’t give up on yourself.”  Jesus is not going to give up on you either.  So, please, for heaven’s sake, don’t give up on yourself.

 

My pastor friend, Steve Idle, wrote-“When we are in Christ, what has defeated us in our past, does not get to define us in our future!” Jesus won’t let it.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  So, when you fail Jesus, just get up and keep on following Jesus. Proverbs 24:16 says:

 

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” -Proverbs 24:16

 

In addressing the subject of sin and failure as a Christian, Dr. David Jeremiah told about a definition of being a Christian that he had once heard: “You fall down and you get back up.  You fall down and you get back up.  You fall down and you get back up…..all the way to heaven!”

 

If you will accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers you after your failure, you will hear Jesus invite you, like he did Peter, to continue to follow him.  Here is the 2nd thing that Jesus invites us to do after we fail and as we receive forgiveness:

 

  1. CONTINUE TO LOVE JESUS

 

When it comes to our sin & failure, it’s not a question about whether God will love us any longer.  HE WILL!  In Romans 8, Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

We have a Heavenly Father who is at his best when we are at our worse.  A Father whose grace is the strongest when our devotion is at its weakest.  A Father who loves us even when we feel unlovable.

 

So it’s not a matter of God loving us after our sin.  The question is, will you continue to love the Lord?  Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to re-affirm his love.

 

READ JOHN 21:15-17

 

You might have noticed that Jesus didn’t chew Peter out.  Jesus did not go nuclear on Peter.  Jesus didn’t dredge up Peter’s past.  He didn’t remind Peter of the promises that Peter had made to him.  Jesus didn’t say, “I told you so.”  Jesus could have extended a nail-pierced hand and pointed an accusing finger at Peter.  But he didn’t.  He just wanted Peter to tell him that he loved him.

 

First, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than these.  To whom was Jesus referring when he asked Peter, do you love me more than these?  I think it was the other disciples standing beside him on the shore.  Why was he comparing Peter’s love to their love?  I think it was because of Peter’s boast that even if the rest of the disciples disowned Jesus and deserted him, he never would.  But Peter did.  So Jesus starts there.  Will you love me more than these?

 

Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him?  How many times did Peter deny Jesus?  Three times.  Three affirmations of love for each denial.  Three times Jesus asked Peter do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?  Each time, Peter seized the opportunity to repent of each denial with a confession: I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

Please understand that Jesus is not shaming Peter.  I will talk about why Jesus restored Peter publicly in my last point.  But for now, I want to point out that Jesus was guiding Peter through this re-affirmation process so Peter would be reassured of his relationship with his Lord.  The whole point of this “honest conversation” that Jesus had with Peter was to help Peter re-focus on his love for Jesus.

 

When we fail, Jesus will deal with us in the same way he dealt with Peter.  Honestly, gently and lovingly.  He won’t remind us of our sin.  That’s because of his promise to us that our sins and lawless deeds he will remember no more.  That promise is first made in the OT book of Jeremiah.  It is repeated in the NT book of Hebrews.  The promise is reiterated so that we would get it.

 

Therefore, when we sin and fail Jesus, all we need to do is to ask the Lord to forgive us and then simply focus on our love for the Lord.  Don’t look back at your sin.  It’s been forgiven.  All that looking back on your sin will do is give you a false sense of guilt and shame.  Simply move forward by re-affirming your love for the Lord.  God knows our hearts.  He knows that we still love him.

 

Here is the 3rd thing that Jesus invites us to do once we receive forgiveness for our failures:

 

  1. CONTINUE TO SERVE JESUS

 

As Jesus received Peter’s affirmation of love, he simultaneously commissioned Peter to ministry.  Jesus directed Peter to “feed my lambs”, “take care of my sheep”, and “feed my sheep.”  3 commissioning statements. 

 

Why did Jesus repeat himself three times?  Well again, we remember that Peter had denied Jesus three times.  But it could also have been because he wanted Peter to know, in unmistakable terms that his failure did not disqualify him from ministry.  Jesus wanted Peter to know that he was still going to be used by God to advance the kingdom of God.

 

Now, if there was ever anyone who would qualify for being disqualified from ministry on the basis of his failure, it was Simon Peter.  But Peter wasn’t.  We see here that Jesus restores Peter through forgiveness and reinstates Peter for ministry.

 

Peter would be a shepherd for the Lord’s sheep.  Jesus had work for Peter to do.  He had flocks for Peter to pastor.

Now, we come to why Jesus restored Peter publicly, in front of the other disciples.  It was because Peter had been a public failure.  Peter had denied Jesus in front of other people.  This was no secret sin.  Everyone knew what Peter had done. 

 

If Peter was ever to be a leader in the church, his restoration to ministry would also have to be public.  Jesus restored Peter in front of the other disciples, so they would be willing to follow Peter’s lead.  This was Jesus’ way of informing the other disciples that Peter had his blessing.  Jesus restored Peter’s credibility on that day.

 

Peter did go on to fulfill his God-given tasks.  He became a leader in the early church.  Peter had the privilege of preaching the first Gospel sermon the Day of Pentecost.  Peter would write 2 books of the New Testament, 1 & 2 Peter and he would be a resource for a 3rd- the Gospel of Mark.  In his 1st letter, Peter referred to himself as a “fellow elder” of the church.

 

King David is another example of being used by God following failure.  If Peter was exhibit A because of his sin of denial, then David is exhibit B because of his moral failure.  David had committed the dual sins of adultery and murder.  And yet, in the NT, David is called, “a man after God’s own heart.”  Here is what David committed to do following his failure:

 

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”

-Psalm 51:13

 

SO…….may I ask you, where are you at today?  Are you somewhere between the fires?  Are you between the fire of failure and the fire of restoration?  Have your fumbles and stumbles left you questioning your place in God’s plan?

 

If so, let the story of Galilean Grace that Jesus demonstrated to Peter remind you that Christ is not finished with you either. You may be down, but you are not out!  You may feel alone, but you’re not alone.  Jesus, as it says in Jude verse 24, will be able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy!

 

So, since Jesus isn’t giving up on you, don’t give up on yourself!  One of the best ways to be restored in your relationship with the Lord is to be restored to serving God.  And then, your life becomes a great testimony to God’s forgiveness and his grace.

 

Dr. Howard Hendricks reminds us that the Bible is full of stories of people who have failed God and made a comeback from their failure to serve God.  May you step up and be one of them.

 

Could you use some breakfast this morning?  Are you hungry for a second chance?  Would you sit down with Jesus at the breakfast table and let him serve you, not fish and bread, but heaping helpings of mercy and grace.

 

Would you be open to this miracle?   READ PSALMS 103:8-14. He will not treat us as our sins deserve.  There is a word more powerful than failure.  It’s forgiveness.  Would you believe that? 

 

Would you be a part of this miracle?   Jesus did almost everything for Peter.  He orchestrated the miraculous catch of fish.  He built the fire and cooked the breakfast.  He invited Peter to have some breakfast.  He took Peter’s confession of love and re-commissioned Peter.  If the distance between Jesus and Peter was 100 steps, Jesus took 99 of them but Peter had to take the one step back to Jesus.

 

Peter did.  He was told to go back to Galilee.  He went.  He was told that Jesus was standing on the shore.  Peter dove into the water and swam to the shore.  When he was asked a question by Jesus, Peter answered. 

 

We need to move in the direction of Jesus and respond to him  Jesus offers forgiveness for our failure.  Let us receive it.  Jesus invites us to follow him.  Let’s follow.  Jesus desires our love.  Let’s love him.  Jesus offers us the opportunity to serve him.  Let’s get to work!

 

No one gets through life failure free.  Peter didn’t.  Jacob didn’t David didn’t.  Solomon didn’t.  I haven’t and neither will you.  But Jesus offers all of us a second chance.  Let’s accept it. And let’s rededicate ourselves to the Lord and to his service.

 

Let’s use our commitment time this morning as a time to rededicate ourselves to the Lord.  Whether you think your sin is small or you are afraid your failure is huge, the good news of the Gospel is that your failure is not final.

 

Let’s each of us commit ourselves to the Lord anew.  Whether you are sitting in the pew here in the sanctuary, or sitting on your sofa at home let’s make a renewed commitment in our hearts today.

 

I will give you the opportunity to pray silently about your commitment and then I’ll pray.

 

PRAYER

 

And now, as we sing our commitment hymn, if you want to rededicate your life to the Lord, you can come down to the altar.  If you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, come.  If you want to place your church membership with or church, come.  For those who are worshipping at home, you can indicate your decision in the conversation thread of our livestream.

 

 

Contact Us

Lebanon Christian Church

409 Yorktown Road

 

Newport News (Lee Hall), VA 23603

 

Phone: 757 887-5536

 

  

CCS #8003

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