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John #52 Resurrection Transformation

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That you may Believe and have Life #52

John 21

Well … 18 months ago we started our journey with John through the life of Christ.  We Have taken a few side trips but we are at message number #52.  Obviously we could have spent many more weeks dissecting this great gospel.  John wrote his book later than all the others.  He had the benefit of maturity and time to interpret the memories and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

Even then John admits at the end of Chapter 20 that he didn’t record everything Jesus did.  He says that “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” 

But then he gives you the purpose of what he recorded, That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed Promised Messiah, the Son of God, and that in that believing you may have life in his name

And that is how chapter 20 ends.  It seems to be the end of the record. 

So, why write chapter 21? 

John seems to have finished writing and then seems to say “let me tell you one more thing”.  I can resemble that remark.  You get in storytelling mode and it’s hard to quit; especially when you are talking about such a great subject. 

So, why one more story?

It seems that John is giving us insight into the transformational power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  How did Peter go from Defeated Denier to the Powerful Preacher of the book of Acts?

We saw all of these disciples in chapter 20 hiding in the Upper Room, behind locked doors. 

But how did they get from there to Pentecost?

It is still about Jesus Christ.  Jesus being the great Leader and Lord would not leave them unequipped or uninformed. 

Acts 1 tells us “after his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Well chapter 21 gives us a peek into one of those encounters and perhaps some insight into the ongoing struggle within the disciples as the flesh and the Spirit struggled with moving from failure to faith, from running to standing, denying to proclaiming …

Now I want us to see the WHOLE story and how it moved the disciples forward.

And I want us here at New Life Baptist Church to ask ourselves … how will WE be impacted by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?  What will we do?

Let’s read the story


Now, you might wonder about wonder about those last 2 verses.  Those verses were most likely written by the Elders from the Church at Ephesus to give an affirmation that this chapter was written by John just like the rest of the book and both were true.  You see most likely the rest of the book was written perhaps decades earlier.  While they were all honest in their portrayal of Peter, John, didn’t like it left that way so now at perhaps 100 AD as an old man, John finishes his story.  Look at verse 1.  John is the only one in the gospels to call it Tiberias.  It is Galilee.  But toward the end of the Century it was renamed. 

So John is not leaving Peter as fearful and denying but as one ready to follow Jesus to death.

This was a transformational event the in the life of the disciples

Jesus begins by

1. Realigning Priorities

In Luke 5 Jesus had been teaching, suggested the disciples let down their nets.  Peter said “we’ve been fishing all day and night but didn’t catch anything, but if you want us …”

They let down their nets and caught more fish than they could handle …

Peter fell at Jesus’ feet confessing his sinfulness made plain by the presence of a Holy Christ.  And Jesus said
“don’t be afraid, from now on you will be fishers of men” and they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Please notice how things began.

Notice the change in Peter’s life that day.

That day when Jesus revealed himself, opened their eyes to believe Peter and the other “fishing disciples” left everything to follow Jesus.  Interestingly it doesn’t say they docked boats, or tied them to the shore.  Luke wrote they “pulled their boats on shore”

Do you remember when you laid everything down to follow Jesus.

When they laid everything down and followed Jesus … he had given them the commission “I will make you fishers of men”

The first priority in their walk with him, he had given them was attracting people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

He gave them the commission of proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Well, a lot had happened since then.  They had followed Jesus.  They had learned from him.  They had seen mighty things. 

But things changed that night in the courtyard.

The disciples all fled.  Peter stayed on the fringes but instead of proclaiming Christ, he denied Christ. 

And then even after Jesus was resurrected, those doubts still lingered.  He was following him again, but did Jesus have room for someone who denied him?

And the boats came off the shore, and back into the water.

Remember, if you can, how it was when you first came to Christ.

Sometimes, though, along the way, things get in the way.  Perhaps, we’ve lost our opportunity. 

Boats off the shore, fishing all night, catching nothing., Hmmm, does this sound familiar?

You know in teaching and leading, often, timing is everything.  Who has better timing than Jesus?

He allows the scene to play out nearly just as before.    The disciples don’t see it at first. 

Jesus asks an interesting question, “Friends, you got any fish?”

That’s a deep question.  He changed their priorities and told them they were fishers of men.  I don’t guess there were any men snagged since the cross. 

No” they answered … still they didn’t understand it

Until they hall in the fish, and then John gets it right away.  Tells Peter, he dives in, swims to shore and as he comes up … there on the shore a fire of burning coals …

This Greek word, anthrakia is only used two places in the New Testament … In John 21 and in John 18.  The heap of burning coals in John 18 was the site of Peter’s denial in the courtyard. 

If this were a movie, as Peter made the shore and came up on to the beach, in the dusk, I believe there would have been a flashback … and it would have been natural for Peter to flashback …

The Lord uses a circumstance, like their first call to be fishers of men, to bring them back to their Priorities and then builds the same kind of fire to bring him back to the place where he left that he might restore him.

No stern rebuke.

Nor withering scorn

Could have wrought

So much that wondrous mourn.

For as Peter looked

on the glowing coal,

Shame and remorse

Swept over his soul.

And thoughts pierced and burned

Like sword and fire.

As he gazed upon

This anthrakia.

For he saw himself

Yet once again

In the high priest's hall

Of reputed fame.

Remember the oath,

The curse, the lie

When there he did

His Lord deny.

As man and maid

Would have him inquire

When he stood

With the crowd

At the anthrakia.

Yet, behold,

What wondrous love returned

By the one whose name

He has so spurned

Those nail-pierced hands

Could have ill prepared

And a tender voice

It called him there.

And a heart overflowing

With loving desire.

Had killed for him

This anthrakia.

Beloved in this

Cold world around

Where trouble and strife

Are everywhere found.

When friends may deny us

And loved ones forsake

And foes look upon us

In envy and hate.

To reflect such grace.

Let us all aspire

With the warmth

Of our Savior's anthrakia.

(The Heat of Living Coals)

How do we get back?

Jesus spoke to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5 you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.

We get back by coming back and doing the things we did first. 

Jesus brought them back to where they had been …

And New Life we need to remember that first we have been called as Fishers of Men … and that is the bottom line.

Oh I could talk about the fact that while Jesus didn’t need their fish, but he told them to bring some of what they caught.

I could talk about the fact that John notes that there were 153 fish, not 152 or 151, but 153, and that in that time, there were 153 known species of fish showing a completeness of the catch, and a completeness of the Gospel for every group of people.  And also that the net was not broken, as Jesus told his father, I have not lost any of those you gave to me …

Are you saying Pastor that God needs me in order to complete his task? NO God has no need of anything.

Are you saying that God doesn’t need me?  Well not exactly, because the same God who called the world into existence with a word, chooses to work in this world, through us,

Isaiah 46:9-13 (NIV)
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. 12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. 13 I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.

But all we have time for is the fact that Jesus brought Peter and the disciples back to the priorities of being fishers of men

But the Second thing I see is that Jesus

2. Reassigned Vision or Position

Being fishers of men is an Evangelistic mission, but that is NOT the only mission of the church.  That was not to be the only ministry for Peter and the disciples. 

Jesus uses another metaphor and says “Feed my Sheep”

Warren Wiersbe points out that when a person catches fish, they are alive and he catches them and they die, but when we fish for people, they are dead in their sin but they are caught by the grace of Christ and made alive.

But then the process by which we help people live like those alive from the dead is discipleship.  We are called to go and win converts And make disciples. 

We all know that Peter had failed the Lord.  We also know that this failure happened in public.  But don’t miss the fact, that apart from John, they had all abandoned him at the cross.  They all must have felt what Peter had felt. 

They all must have wondered if the deal was still on.

Perhaps Jesus would be using someone else now. 

Remember this is only the 3rd time he has appeared to the disciples as a whole.  We know he appeared to Peter alone.  But he appeared to them all on the 1st day of the week.  And then again one week later, and now this time.  Don’t know how many days, but they don’t know what his plans are. 

Jesus has called them back to the first commission reminding them of when he made them fishers of men and now he enlarges it and says “feed my sheep” …

We should notice what he says to Peter. 

It was important for Peter to deal with this in public and it was important for the disciples to realize that they were still in the game.

This is like God taking Abraham outside the tent 20 years after he first promised to bless him and tell him to count the stars and imagine the completeness of God’s fulfillment of his promises. 

Jesus is taking the disciples outside the camp and saying, I’m still going to use you, I’m going to forgive, and restore, and use you in a greater way than you thought.

He gives him 3 instructions

  A. Feed my Lambs … literally little lambs …

    1. that is that the work of the church always starts with the little ones, or those unable to care for themselves

    2. When I first came here our nursery was nearly empty the first Sunday I was here.  But as we began to minister we began to reach young families, and little ones were a priority and in that first year, our nursery began to overflow and so did our awana program.  And that was not by chance because we were concerned about the Little Lambs that Jesus called us to feed.  And you know what, little ones don’t get here on their own.  When you minister to little ones you minister to the whole family. 

Also when you minister to new Christians you are ministering to Little Lambs.

New Life, we need to always place a priority on the Little Lambs if we want the blessing of God.

Everyone can minister to little ones. 

If you don’t have a place in ministry here, but you are longing for one, don’t wait for your special day to come along.  Don’t wait for your dream position, start ministering to little ones and the Lord will use you and provide for you the larger places to minister if he desires. 

Moses started by feeding little lambs

David started with lambs

Amos with lambs

We often struggle in the church to find people to care for the littlest ones … but I’m telling you if we have the heart of Christ, those positions should have a long line of volunteers …

Then with the profession of love, Jesus uses a different set of words and says in our translation,

  B. Shepherd My Sheep

Jesus uses different words this time … instead of bosko arnion (feed my little lambs)

He says

Poimaino probaton

We are to lead people to Christ but we are also to disciple them

Jesus said poimaino – which means “to feed, tend, keep, rule govern; to furnish pasture for food”

And then instead of little lambs it uses the word probaton which can be used for any four legged domestic animal  but normally used for sheep or also for sheepfold … the point being that we as the body of Christ are called to care for the whole body, to disciple them in feeding but also to provide pasture by which they can feed themselves.  As  your Pastor, it is not my job to always hand feed you milk but also to feed you the meat of the word and provide you lush pastures where you can feed yourself. 

Folks,  one thing about us here in America, we don’t miss too many meals.  I know that you don’t ONLY eat on Sunday morning.  Or you don’t ONLY eat on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. 

You have to eat every day.  Well, let me tell you what I’m trying to do on Sunday morning and Wednesday Night, I’m trying to feed you yes, but more than that, I’m trying to provide you a lush pasture land that you can feed in all week long.

If you will jot down a few notes and take some of this home, you can dig back in a few verses and a few points at a time each day.  Get up a few minutes early and chew the things we give you.  Reread, meditate, memorize what you are getting.  Regurgitate it by sharing it with someone else at work or at school or on the block. 

Shepherding involves feeding and leading, directing, guiding and governing.

That also requires mature sheep that will come to the Shepherd

Peter came to understand this and gave instruction to the shepherds “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be”  1 Peter 5:2

Let me tell you though that it is NOT only my job.  That last instruction a combination of the two

Bosko probaton

  C. Feed my sheep

When you read Paul’s instruction to the church you find that we are a body and each part needs the other part

You have a place to fill in this body and if you don’t find it and fill it the entire fold will suffer.  We have too few people caring too much of the weight. 

You must ask yourself, what am I doing in this body?  How am I contributing to the feeding of the Sheep

When we all fill our roles we makes sure that it is accomplished For the Lord, under the direction of his undershepherd for the good of the whole flock.

Feed the Little ones

Shepherd for the Mature Feed them All

The Church is best when it recognizes the dual call to Proclaim and Provide

Evangelize and Equip

On Mission and in Ministry

Fish and Feed

And So that day in the last chapter of John, Jesus Realigned Priorities

Reassigned Position


3. Refocused Passionate Purpose

I love this scene.  Breakfast is over.  Jesus and Peter are taking a walk, probably along the shore, perhaps skipping a few rocks. 

It’s a dangerous thing when you get alone with Jesus.  Cause he may let you in on a few things. 

And he tells Peter, “friend, you thought the courtyard was tough, I just want you to know it doesn’t get easier from here.  You used to be able to make all your own decisions.  But when you get old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will lead you where you don’t want to go.”  Then John let’s us know that this was to indicate how Peter would die. 

Now John is writing after Peter’s death on a cross.  I wonder how Jesus made it clear though, cause Peter seemed to understand.  And it shook him. 

Perhaps Jesus spoke as one from experience pointing to his hands and stretching his own arms wide saying, someone is going to lead where you don’t want to go, “take it from me”. 

And Peter sees young John following him and asks “what about him”  ….

Oh aren’t we just like that?

We are often looking around and wondering why we have it so hard.  

Jesus said “WHO CARES?”  “that doesn’t concern you”, “I didn’t ask you that” … “what difference will it make if he lives forever.” 


Folks it doesn’t matter the assignment

It doesn’t Matter someone else’s assignment

We need to break it all down to the least common denominator


If his priorities for us change, if his position for us changes, the one thing that will NEVER change is our Purpose to Follow Jesus

Keep your eyes on the nailscarred hands and you won’t be worried about skinned knees

Keep your eyes on the nail scarred hands on your won’t be worried about recognition

Keep your eyes on the footsteps of Jesus and you won’t be worried about which direction the path is turning.

Being a fisher of men wasn’t the end.  I wasn’t predestined to that

Being a shepherd of sheep wasn’t the end.  I wasn’t predestined to that.

Following Jesus is the End

Being like Jesus, being conformed to his image, that is what I’ve been predestined to.

You can’t be like him if you don’t see him

You can’t see him if you aren’t following him

But folks when we follow we will do what he does. And Jesus Christ came on a rescue mission.  The Ministry of Reconciliation and We have been given the SAME ministry that is why we are following. 

When is the service going to be over?

Why did they sing THOSE songs

Why am I doing this?

How come I can’t get the ministry I want?

How long until Jesus comes?

Why is my life harder than theirs?

How come I’m not getting any recognition?

Does it matter?

We ask some unimportant questions sometimes don’t we?

Jesus says What does it matter, FOLLOW ME

“Pastor does ‘follow’ mean ‘follow’?”

Well that’s a fair question.  It doesn’t just mean to come behind and watch

Ak-ol-oo-theh-oto follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him, join as a disciple, side with his party

Well there you go, get behind, serve him, go with him, join as a student, be on his SIDE

And don’t worry about the outcome … we are on a rescue mission

As we leave this book you turn the page into Acts and now you know WHY Peter was bold, brave, powerful, pointed, fearless, and focused, because when we leave this book, he is Following Jesus to death.

I read yesterday about  

What England Did For One Subject

The King of Abyssinia once took a British subject named Cameron prisoner and incarcerated him in the high fortress of Magdala. No cause was assigned for his confinement. When Great Britain found out, she demanded an immediate release for her citizen. King Theodore refused.

Within ten days after the refusal was received, ten thousand British soldiers were sailing down the coast headed for Magdala. Then marching across an unfriendly country for seven hundred miles, they went up the mountains to where the prisoner was being held. They gave battle, tearing the gates of the fortress down and reached the depths of the dungeon. They lifted that one British subject out, placed him on their shoulders and carried him down the mountains to the coast where a big ocean vessel soon sped him safely home.

That expedition took several months and cost the English government twenty-five million dollars. The entire resources of the government were made available in the rescue of only one citizen. Every child of God has this privilege and birthright in Christ


CT Studd was an English Missionary a Century ago that once said “some people want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell”

But that was just the tip of his tongue. 

He wrote a paper once titled “The Chocolate Soldier of Heroism – the Lost Chord of Christianity” In that writing he said

Every true soldier is a hero!  A soldier without heroism is a Chocolate Soldier! Every True Christian is a soldier –of Christ- a hero “par excellence” Braver than the Bravest – scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger and death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.  The Otherwise Christian is a Chocolate Christian, dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire.  Sweeties they are!  Bonbons, lollipops!  Living their lives in a glass dish or in a cardboard box, each clad in his soft clothing, a little frilled white paper to preserve his dear little delicate constitution … God never was a chocolate manufacturer and never will be.

He goes on to point out that Chocolate Soldiers sometimes hide behind prayer, wanting to pray about things where God has clearly spoken and sometimes we substitute prayer for obedience.

Folks there are many things for which we should pray.  But if we have heard the voice, if we can see the Master, then obedience is the answer

Three things we can DO New Life Baptist Church … Be

Fishers of Men

Feeders of the Flock

Followers of Jesus Christ

And Put everything we have into it …

Hold Nothing Back except reservation

Fear Nothing Except God

Give It All

Follow Jesus


[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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