Over the past couple of weeks we have journeyed together through the passion of Christ. Two weeks ago on Palm Sunday we worshipped Christ again as King. On Good Friday we were brought to the cross through the Lord’s Supper. And last Sunday on Easter we saw the power of the resurrection and the new and eternal life that Christ brings. But Jesus’ ministry did not end with the resurrection – in fact in many ways it just began - following the resurrection Jesus met with his disciples on a number of occasions - this morning we are going to look at Jesus’ restoration to Peter following his denying his Savior three times. Please turn in your Bibles to John 21, (page 1688) we are looking at verses 15-22. Our passage begins after Peter led the disciples out to go fishing. Then Jesus meets them, cooks them breakfast and then talks to Peter. As I read God’s Word pay careful attention to Jesus’ words to Peter -
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, tougher in life than wanting and waiting to be restored in a relationship when you have blown it. You don’t really know how the person you’ve hurt or offended will respond. Will he or she understand and really forgive?; or will he use the offense to hold over you get something from us later, or will she tell us we are forgiven but bring it up frequently in conversation to let you know how much it really hurt.
When Jesus restores us he does so perfectly – so perfectly that sometimes it hurts because it is exactly what we need. Like surgery that we need to live but we still hate to go under the knife. It is brutal in that Jesus’ restoration is extreme – it goes far beyond human restoration – and it is beautiful. We’ll see that in Peter’s restoration this morning but in order to understand the completeness of Peter’s restoration you need to see his offense. Let’s turn back a few pages before Jesus went to the cross to John 13 and look at verses 36-38.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
We’ll look at the specifics of arrogance in Peter’s statement in a few moments but summed up Peter is saying I can follow you, and I will die for you. Pretty strong claims. Interestingly, Mark tells us all the other disciples said the same thing as Peter. Jesus simply says, Peter, you don’t know yourself and you don’t know my mission – not only will you not stand up for me – you will deny you even know me three times.
And of course it happened – Peter denied Jesus three times. But Luke gives an interesting insight into Peter’s denial - turn to Luke 22:59 – at this point Peter has already denied Jesus twice and at verse 59 it says, “About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Did you notice Luke tells us as soon as Peter denied him for the third time Jesus turned at looked straight at Peter. Nothing would or could hurt more. I don’t believe Jesus looked at him in condemnation – he didn’t have to. I believe Jesus looked at him with compassion and Peter realized he had rejected love. He had rejected the only thing worth having. Peter went outside and wept bitterly. Some films have betrayed this as Peter weeping in the dark against a cold wall. Have you been there? I know I have. There is nothing worse then being against that cold wall – there is nothing worse than being between sin and forgiveness. Against that wall all we find is shame and guilt and blaming ourselves, blaming others, self-righteousness, anger at the person we have hurt. It is a place where we don’t think straight and all we know is a huge hole. Have you been there? Singer and Songwriter Don Francisco in his song He’s Alive sings of Peter against that cold wet dark wall listen to these words -
BACK INSIDE THE HOUSE AGAIN THE GUILT AND ANGUISH CAME
EVERYTHING I'D PROMISED HIM JUST ADDED TO MY SHAME
WHEN AT LAST IT CAME TO CHOICES I DENIED I KNEW HIS NAME
AND EVEN IF HE WAS ALIVE, IT WOULDN'T BE THE SAME
Have you ever been there with God? I have counseled with many who have thought that is it – God can’t forgive me anymore. If you knew my past, if you knew my thoughts, if you knew me -there is no hope of restoration.
That is what makes God’s restoration extreme – turn back with me to John 21- and I want you to see how God’s restoration is so much more than our restoration of each other. We will see God’s grace as we learn three quick lessons this morning – Jesus’ Restoration is Personal, Jesus’ Restoration is Precise and Jesus’ Restoration is Purposeful. Let me encourage you to follow along in your outline in the bulletin this morning.
First, Jesus’ Restoration is Personal.
You know nothing is more personal than your name. Sometimes nothing will mean more to a person than using your name. When someone calls you by name it draws you in. Someone shared with me recently that they had been a part of a church and really involved for years and the Pastor did not know their names. Or if someone pretends to know you closely and then uses a wrong name – this is my good friend – ouch! In verses 15, 16, and 17 – what name does Jesus call Peter? Right, Simon – ouch. That was Peter’s pre-Christian name. Do you remember when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter – it is at the center of the gospels – it is after Peter confessed – You are the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus said blessed are you Simon bar Jonah – Simon son of John – for this was not revealed to you by man but by heaven. I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. What is that rock? - it is not Peter himself as we have learned today he would be a lousy man to build a church on – the rock it is the confession that Jesus is the Christ. That is why Jesus calls Peter – Simon. Do you see how personal that was? Oh, that had to hurt – the name he received from confessing Jesus – he lost temporarily in his denying Jesus. But Jesus needed to be specific on Peter’s sin and it is personal – it is brutal. You ever notice that we don’t like to be specific about sin? We respond more with “It’s OK, everyone does it…”
Jesus continues and he asks Peter three times Simon, son of John do you really love me? Why did he ask Peter three times? I believe it was because Peter denied him three times. Peter had to be in torment at how seemingly brutal and personal Jesus is. In fact verse 17 says, Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time.
But you know something – although Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time – later on, who knows when, perhaps it was later that day, perhaps it was years later – Peter must have thought back and realized that Jesus’ asking him three times allowed Peter to affirm- to confess- Jesus three times. What a blessing Jesus gave him to restore him for denying him three times!
Listen, You know - sometimes when we think God is being extra brutal he is actually being extra gracious.
I want to point out one other way Jesus was gracious to Peter. Sometimes I play with my kids – Emily will say to me “Dad I Love You!” I like to say back to them, Emily I really, really, really like you. She’ll say no Dad I love you!!
When Jesus asked Peter in verse 15– Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these? The word for love in the greek has the meaning of deep heartfelt love with all of our being. Peter responded with a different greek word for love which is more like– I really really like you.
So, Jesus asked Peter again in verse 16 – do you love me with all of your being? Peter again responded – I really really like you.
Peter’s answers were less than perfect were they not? But Jesus’ restoration was personal – Jesus knew Peter – just as he knows you – just as he knows me. And Jesus asked Peter the third time – Simon do you really, really like me? Peter said, Lord you know all things and you know I really really like you.” Peter also knew his Lord – that is why in the passage right before – as Peter was in the boat and he sees Jesus – he grabbed his clothes and jumped out and ran to be restored. He was desperate to be restored to his God, he knew that Jesus might do heart surgery on him but it was worth it.
Jesus’ Restoration is Personal – 3 lessons on restoration – God wants us to be explicit in confessing our sin and he will do the surgery to restore us – yes it hurts but God demands that we take sin seriously – just as God takes grace seriously. Secondly, when we think he is being brutal he is actually blessing And third, God doesn’t demand perfection – he simply asks that we jump out of the boat and run to him.
Our first main Point was Jesus’ Restoration is Personal . Second- Jesus’ Restoration is Precise.
Jesus restores the way we mess up. If you look at your chart in the middle of your outline, by the way I owe much of this to William Hendrickson:
| Jesus’ Restoration Reverses the Curse |
|Peter’s Rebellion in John 13:36-38||Jesus’ Restoration in John 21:15-22|
|Peter: “I can follow you” 13:37||Jesus allows Peter to affirm him three times. (15-17)|
|Peter: I will die for you (cross)13:37||Jesus: I died for you (cross) now your life & death have meaning|
|Jesus: You will deny me three times.||Jesus: You can now follow me|
Jesus’ restoration is precise in that it reverses the curse in it’s power, and its order.
Let’s look at the power – what is wrong with Peter’s approach in John 13? Peter thought he had the ability in himself to follow Jesus. In John 13 – Peter says I will lay down my life for you. Do you know Peter’s problem? He did not have the ability – only the good shepherd could lay down his life for his sheep.
Now let’s look at the order? What’s wrong with Peter’s approach in John 13? Do you see the order of Peter’s rebellion – I can follow you, I will take up my cross, and Jesus said you will deny me. Did you get that – Follow, Cross, Deny.
Jesus says in Mark 8:34 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Deny, Cross, Follow. The order is important. Peter has reversed it. You cannot follow Jesus until you have come to the end of yourself. Oh, how often we think we are doing God a favor by coming to him – what arrogance! Arrogance we share with Peter.
Now - Do you see how Jesus’ Restoration of Peter in our passage is precise – Peter do you love me more than these? Jesus is asking Peter to deny himself. We don’t like to be precise because then the restoration is clear – we would rather hold it over them.
Jesus then tells Peter in verse 18
I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Verse 19 tells us that Jesus was telling Peter how he was going to die. He was going to stretch out his hands. Tradition holds that Peter was crucified – only he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die like his Savior. So, Peter took up the cross. And then Jesus restored him – follow me. So in the restoration we have Deny yourself, Take up your cross, and follow me.
Take a breath here, by this point, Peter must have been exhausted. I’m not sure how much Jesus’ restoration was hitting him yet – we do know one thing. Whenever, things get to personal for too long – Peter does what you and I do – we try to change the subject. We have perhaps one of the most humorous exchanges recorded in scripture. Verse 20 tells us that right in the midst of Jesus telling Peter how he’s going to die – Peter sees John and he say’s Lord what about him? Enough about how I’m going to die – let’s talk about someone else. How’s John going to die? And Jesus responds like Aslan at the end of many of the Narnia books - I only tell you your story - and then Jesus reiterates Peters restoration in verse 22 – You must follow me!
Jesus’ restoration stands out and seems brutal because it is so precise and is exactly what we need. You see coming into contact with a God who is both Just and Merciful transforms us and reverses the curse – his extreme honesty of dealing with our sins - and yet doing so in a merciful and gracious way - makes him stand out - he is brutal in dealing with our sins but brutally loving - brutal because our sins required severe even extreme action.
Our first main Point was Jesus’ Restoration is Personal . Second- Jesus’ Restoration is Precise. Third, Jesus’ Restoration is Purposeful.
Jesus’ restoration stands out because it is purposeful. It’s not like me. If someone hurts me, or damages something close to me – you know what I may claim to forgive them- but when it comes to trusting them with something near and dear to me – forget it. I might say, yes you are forgiven, you can come to my house but don’t touch anything.
Do you see Jesus’ restoration? – Peter – feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep, take care of my sheep.
If someone has deeply hurt me by denying knowing me, it is very unlikely that I am going to entrust him with my closest possession. Jesus says only those who have come to repentance and understand my forgiveness are worthy to lead. William Hendickson says,
It is as if the Master says to Peter: “Simon, you were weak like a lamb, wandering like a sheep, yet, throughout it all, you, like a dear (“little”) sheep, were the object of my tender and loving solicitude. Now, having profited by your experiences (because of your sincere sorrow), consider the members of my Church to be your lambs, and feed them; your sheep, and shepherd them; yes, your dear sheep, and in feeding them love them! Do not neglect the work among the flock, Simon. That is your real assignment! Go back to it!”
Thus was Peter fully and publicly restored.
Jesus’ restoration is extreme in that it is purposeful. If you experienced the restoration of God if you have sinned, confessed it to your savior, and received his forgiveness, then you are also called to follow him and feed his sheep.
There are two groups of people I would like to address at this point. First is those who think this can’t apply to them. You are a part of this group if you have believed the lie of Satan that God can’t use you. You may believe that you have gone too far – I doubt many of you have gone further than Peter – denying Christ three times to his face – if you, like me, like Peter, has sinned. Then desperately run like Peter through the water to Jesus – we have a wonderful merciful savior. Do you know something? God can use our sin sinlessly. This means that all you regret – God may use for his Glory. Realizing you’re a sinner doesn’t disqualify you to minister instead it qualifies you. Feed my sheep Jesus says.
Well, we addressed those who think ministry can’t apply to them. The second group is those who think this calling to minister to the sheep doesn’t apply to them.
I heard of story of a group of men who had been to the gym working out and were now in the locker room getting dressed to go back to work or home or wherever and a phone rang on the bench. One of the men reached dow, picked it up and flipped it open. And he said, “Hello” And the voice on the other end of the phone said “Honey?” “Yes, Sweetie” She said, “Honey, I was driving by some of the shops – you know the cute ones downtown – and I was wondering if I might buy a mink coat? My friends saw a mink coat in the store and said it would look great on me and it’s on sale for $2200. What do you think about that honey. And he said, “is it what you really want? She said, “oh it sure is” Well then go ahead and get it. Honey there is another thing – the little shops are near the BMW dealership and I’ve been looking at…you know the BMW I’ve been looking at – we’ll they only have one more in the color I like and it’s only $60,000 do you think I better get one of those before the last one’s gone? We’ll honey is that the car you really want to drive? It sure is! I think that would be wonderful, just go by and get that car. We’ll sweetheart there is just one more thing – the realtor called this morning you know that house down the street the one with those incredible gardens and the spa? It’s back on the market, sweetheart and it’s only $1.6 million dollars, but the realtor said there is another couple interested in it so we kinda have to make a decision fast do you think we should put a bid in on the house? The realtor says if we make an offer of $1.57 that would probably get it? Well, sweetie is that where you want to live? That is your dreamhouse isn’t it? Yes it is. We’ll then you tell the realtor to get a contract on that. Oh, thank you honey you are so generous – I’ll talk to you later. He said, “ok, bye.” He flipped his phone shut- he smiled and held it in the air and he asked the most profound question, “Whose phone is this?”
You see it’s real easy to be generous with other peoples money. And it’s real easy to think – in a church like Village Seven there is enough people here - there ought to be a ministry to help me in this way. We are generous with what we think the “shepherds” should be doing. Guess what?! We are the shepherds! You know the church is actually you and I. You might be surprised how many folks will come up to us and say, “Don’t you think the communities at Village Seven ought to do such and such?” I like to say, great idea why don’t we start with your community and why don’t you head that up?
You see many times we want to be fed as sheep – and we don’t even mind complaining about the feed – and God is calling us to feed others. You see God is not calling us to be perfect shepherds only faithful shepherds. Peter was far from perfect and God called him to shepherd the sheep. What made Peter a good shepherd was that he never stopped pointing people to Jesus - and that is why in 1st Peter 5 - he called Jesus the chief shepherd. For even though he was called to be a shepherd – he knew that he was working as a shepherd under the chief shepherd. Even though we don’t have a senior shepherd here right now – we still have the chief shepherd – and it each of our jobs to point people to Jesus and to run after him ourselves.
I want you to stop for a second and consider – are you like Peter – somewhere between sin and forgiveness – needing brutal restoration – restoration that deals honestly with your sin because of Jesus’ work on the cross – and restoration that is altogether different in that God himself is working in you to give you a fresh start to minister to others.
Like Peter each of us needs a savior! desperately – for we are more sinful than we could possibly imagine and more dearly loved than we could ever dream. Come to your wonderful, merciful savior.
1 Peter 5:10-11
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.