Faithlife Sermons

Back to the New Normal, for Peter

Garden to the Shore: The Person of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:12
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Back to the New Normal, for Peter

Backstory: Everything had fallen apart. Hopes, dreams, plans, purposes. It seemed like everything Peter and the other disciples had imagined had gone up in smoke. What started out as an exciting entrance into Jerusalem, and apparent allowance of the Jewish leaders for Jesus to teach his followers, even on Temple grounds (except a couple times when Jesus called them names for their hypocrisy), and an intimate Seder meal on the eve of Passover, had quickly turned to Jesus’ arrest, intimidation, religious strictures and political charges.
There were the religious right calling for his execution on the grounds of watering down the Law. There were the religious left calling for Jesus to be eliminated for challenging their authority and endangering their standing under Rome’s authority. There were the scribes and teachers and priests who didn’t care for their own traditions messed with, or the bad example of healing on the Sabbath. It didn’t matter that the people were starting to understand the message of Jesus. What had mattered was the stirring of the waters everyone had worked hard to keep calm so there wouldn’t be any disruption in their ability to gather and worship as normal.
Peter had claimed he would rather die than turn his back on Jesus; he even drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the temple guards that had come to the Garden to arrest Jesus. He would have fought to the death, except Jesus told him to put his sword away.
But then, with the option of defending himself taken away, Peter found himself challenged to admit that he was a disciple of Jesus, in the courtyard of the High Priest where Jesus was being examined for blasphemy. Three times Peter, who claimed he would die for Jesus, denied ever knowing him. Then the rooster crowed, and Peter collapsed in tears, ashamed at his weakness.
Throughout the other trials before the Sanhedrin, Pilate then Herod then Pilate again, Peter stayed out of the picture. When Jesus was subjected to the torture of flogging, and the humiliation of the crown of thorns and the blood-stained purple robe, and the spit and the name-calling and carrying the cross to Golgotha, Peter was not in the picture. As Jesus was crucified, bleeding and dying for the sins of mankind, as a spectacle for other rebels to see, Peter was hiding. When Jesus was carried to the tomb, Peter was not in the picture.
Then on the first day of the week, when Mary came running back from the tomb with the news that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb’s entrance, and that Jesus wasn’t there, THEN we have Peter with John running to the tomb. But after they saw it was empty, they went home. That evening, they were with the others, fearfully behind locked doors when the resurrected Jesus showed up. Peter isn’t mentioned specifically. His shame kept him in the back of the room, still broken and hurting.

Let’s Go Back to Work

After a couple weeks the fishermen were all back in Galilee. Where else would they go but back to the way things were? They didn’t yet know what the future would bring.
John 21:2–3 ESV
Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Seven disciples in the boat, fishing all night. No catch. What a great idea this was! Try to go back to the way it was, and it wasn’t working. Then again, the only time Peter ever catches anything in the Gospels is when Jesus tells him where to fish.
(Boat Picture)

Then Jesus Shows Up on Shore

There’s always someone hanging out on shore to see what the boats bring in. But who was this?
John 21:4–6 ESV
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
Yeah, that’s right. We didn’t catch a thing. What? throw out the net again? this close to shore? Oh well, can’t hurt. Our shoulders are already tired from casting the net all over the lake. On the right, huh? OK. The net sailed out like a gossamer parachute over the water to the right of the boat. They let it settle, then sink down over whatever might be there, and then started to pull it back.
First you start with the bottom line, pulling it quickly from both ends to wrap around the bottom of the catch. Then you start pulling in the net, bottom and top together. They pulled and pulled, and the net got heavier and heavier. They tried to pull it in over the side, but their gunwales almost dipped below the sea, and that would have swamped them.
(Shore Picture)

John Tells Peter It Is Jesus

Their fortunes were really changing now. This could be better than ever! They started for shore, full net still in the water.
John 21:7–8 ESV
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
John suddenly knew why they got such good fishing advise from a guy on shore. This MUST be the Lord! So he told Peter. After a quick glance, Peter grabbed his robe (he was out fishing in his loincloth to make it easier to move around). Then he dove in the water and made it to shore like some kind of otter. Never saw Peter swim so fast! Meanwhile, the other were still straining to bring ship and net to shore.
(Peter swimming in)

Jesus Had Started His Breakfast

Peter is standing there panting, dripping wet, sand covering up to his knees. The others jumped out of the boat as soon as it grounded on shore.
John 21:9–10 ESV
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
This looked good. A fire made out of the charcoal left from last night’s marker fires, with fish and bread cooking. Not enough for eight, though. Bring in some of your catch!
(Jesus by the fire)

Peter Was Still Full of Adrenaline

Peter hadn’t quite caught his breath, but he was still so full of adrenaline from his excitement that he couldn’t stand still.
John 21:11–12 ESV
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
All by himself, Peter hauls in to shore what the seven of them couldn’t bring aboard the boat together a few minutes ago.
(Peter hauls in the net)
As Peter drags the net across the sand, and starts to let the fish spill out on the shore, John becomes the accountant. 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 120, 140, 153! and these were all good-sized fish. Not like the bite-sized stuff they get sometimes. They brought a few to Jesus, and he started cooking them. “Come have breakfast”.
Still, the disciples were having some trouble with the reality of the resurrection. This looked like Jesus, sounded like Jesus, moved like Jesus. It must be Jesus....Maybe yes, anyway. But John and Peter were sure. So many fish. Like their mission to the world, where they would soon be under Jesus’ command to be fishers of the humanity around them, and God would give them a bounty of souls.

Jesus Communed with His Disciples

Now comes a special communion by the lakeside.
John 21:13–14 ESV
Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Like the travelers on the Emmaus road, Jesus broke the bread and the fish and gave it to them. And they probably knew in this act that it was Jesus for sure.
(Circle of disciples around Jesus and Campfire)

Coming to Grips with the Risen Lord

John: Verse by Verse The Breakfast Scene (21:9–14)

Jesus is so much more than a man brought back to life. They are now coming to grips with the God-man in a new way. Before, his glory had shown through his humanity as the incarnate Son of God. Now his preexistent glory has taken over. He is still the Jesus they have walked with these last years, but he is now the exalted risen Lord, and they are experiencing his Godness in ways they had never imagined in their wildest dreams.

Jesus Tests Peter’s Fidelity

Everyone was still around the fire. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and maybe Andrew and Philip who were from that area too.
In the locked room where Jesus had appeared to the disciples on the day of resurrection , Peter had probably already repented and been forgiven. But he still felt unsure about his place and his future. Jesus settles it for him, publically so the others would know.

First question and assignment

John 21:15 ESV
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, “Feed my lambs.”
With six other disciples around, Jesus focuses on Peter: “Simon Johnson, (that’s what Jesus called him when he first invited him to follow), do you love me more? More than these your brothers?”
Peter said yes. But Jesus asked if Peter’s love was an unselfish love; Was Jesus first in his heart and life? Peter responded with a word for “best friend.” Yet both words are used when God’s love for his Son is mentioned in John, and in Jesus’ love for Lazarus. So don’t focus on the words in Greek, but focus on this: Jesus commands Peter, because of his love for Jesus, to “feed my lambs.” In other words, take care of the church.

Second question and assignment

John 21:16 ESV
He said to him 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, “Tend my sheep.”
This second question reads just like the first. And Peter answers the same way too. So Jesus calls on Peter to be his under-shepherd: Tend the flock. Take care of the church

Third question and assignment

John 21:17 ESV
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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Jesus changes his wording this time. Peter, am I truly your best friend in all the world? Peter is a little frustrated with the repetition, and got a little upset as he answered Jesus. Of course I love you! Like I said before!
And Jesus gives him his assignment as he did before: “Feed the sheep. Take care of my church. “
The most important symbolism in the three times that Jesus asks for Peter’s answer of who is first in his life is that three times Peter denied knowing Jesus; so three times, in the presence of witnesses, Jesus confers on Peter the care of believers. “You’ve been where they are. Now take them where they need to go.”
This wasn’t quite as much of a test as it was a consecration to the mission that Jesus was giving to Peter in the world. “Peter, you are still my best man, a leader among the disciples. Never forget you have a mission and a purpose. Now, let’s talk about your future.”

Jesus Predicts Peter’s New Devotion

John 21:18–19 ESV
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
From a bombastic tough guy to a repentant sinner, to a reinstated minister and shepherd, Jesus predicts the end for this man that he loves and cares about.
You aren’t in charge of your future anymore. You will get your marching orders from the Holy Spirit. And when your service on earth is done, you will finally face a death that will bring God glory. You won’t shrink back this time. You will offer yourself to your accusers, even though you would rather this cup pass from you. You will sacrifice yourself on the altar of devoted service to the God who saved you.
Now, just one more thing: Jesus says, “Follow me.” Don’t look at anyone else. Don’t worry about their reward. You just keep on following me. As you have done for these three years, do until your dying day. Give yourself to the Great Mission of spreading the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. That is your calling and your service. That is how your life will give glory to God.
That is the call for all of us. We are not all called to serve as Pastors and Teachers, not all Evangelists, not all as church planters or the voice of the prophet. But we are all called to follow. We are all called to give our lives for the mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we are called to do that in a way that honors God.

John’s Conclusion

John 21:25 ESV
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
The final word from John is a statement of the wonders of Jesus’ relatively short life on earth, and a hint of what God has been doing through the devoted followers of Jesus ever since. The world simply cannot contain all that is done in the person of Jesus and faithfully done in the name of Jesus by those of us who take our new life in Christ seriously.
We are saved and sanctified to be passive and petrified. We are saved for a mission, and the purpose of honoring God and loving like Jesus.
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