GETTING BACK TO GOD
INTRO: The man asked to see me privately. I agreed to see him. As soon as we were alone, he confessed, “I am a Christian, but I have gotten away from the Lord.” After a pause, he asked, “Can I come back?” What a joy to tell him out of the biblical witness and out of my own experiences, “You can come back to God!”
Simon Peter walked closely with Jesus. He was a part of the inner circle, “the big three.” Yet, Peter denied the Lord during Jesus’ trial. Peter thought the relationship was over, so he returned to the fishing business. Jesus appeared to him for the sole purpose of telling Peter, “You can come back.” Let’s examine this matter of getting away from the Lord and getting back to Him.
I. GETTING AWAY FROM GOD IS A UNIVERSAL REALITY.
Peter provides an excellent case study of one who followed the Lord and drifted away. The Bible has many case studies of godly people who got away from God.
Observation teaches us that people get away from the Lord, and they come back. Even our own personal experiences confirm the reality of going away and coming back.
II. BEING AWAY FROM GOD IS AN UNEASY EXPERIENCE.
As soon as Peter denied his Lord, Peter wept. Great sorrow comes to the person who gets away from the Lord. In addition to Peter’s sorrow, he became frustrated with his life. He returned to fishing.
Being away from God frustrates a person. It causes one to search for meaning and direction.
III. RETURNING TO GOD IS A GLORIOUS POSSIBILITY.
How did Peter get back to the Lord? The Lord came to him, comforted him about his failure, refused to condemn him, and encouraged him to go to work for Him.
Verse 15 - Jesus probes the inmost recesses of Peter’s heart to secure the humility necessary for service. Is using the “more than these,” Jesus is asking Peter if he loved Him as he claimed to love Him (see John 13:37; and Matt. 26:33). Peter makes no claim here to superior love and passes by the “more than these” and does not even use Christ’s word agapao for high and devoted love, but the humbler word phileo for love as a friend.
Verse 16 - This time Jesus drops the “more than these” and challenges Peter’s own statement.
Verse 17 - This time Jesus picks up the word phileo used by Peter and challenges that. Peter was cut to the heart because Jesus challenges this very verb, and no doubt the third question vividly reminds him of the three denials.
In spite of his faults and failures, Peter did indeed love the Lord, and was not ashamed to admit it. The other men were listening to the conversation and benefiting from it, for they too had failed the Lord after boasting of their devotion.
No one needs to remain away from the Lord. He offers the same glorious possibility of restoration to everyone who has gone away.
IV. HAVING FELLOWSHIP AGAIN RESTORES THE JOY AND THE USEFULNESS OF A PERSON.
After Peter’s confrontation with the Lord, he was happy again. Nothing brings joy any better than to be back with God. Also, after Peter’s encounter with the Lord, he became useful again.
The Lord wanted Peter to feed His sheep. Peter did. He became a useful servant. Restoration brings useful service.
CONC: Are you away from God? You can get back!