Summary: Even after Peter's wonderful surprises when Jesus was raised from the dead, he was still struggling to get past his failure. In John 21, we see Jesus giving Peter the opportunity to be reinstated to his role of apostle and leader.
A. I want to begin this morning with a poem by Louisa Fletcher:
“I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
For what had been hardest we’d know had been best
And, what had seemed lost would be gain;
For there isn’t a sting that would not take a wing
When we’ve faced it and laughed it away
And I think that the laughter is most what we’re after
In the Land of Beginning Again.”
B. Do you wish there was a “Land of Beginning Again”?
1. Do you wish there was a way that all our mistakes and heartaches could be dropped by the door like an old shabby coat?
2. Do you wish there was a way that the sting could take wing and be laughed away?
C. If any of this sounds really good to you, then have I got some good news for you (I know I sound a bit like a con man, but this is no con.)
1. The wonderful truth of the matter is that with God there is always the opportunity for new beginnings.
a. Every day and every moment is the Land of Beginning Again with God.
2. This was something that Peter so desperately needed, and so graciously received.
3. In last week’s sermon, we talked about the wonderful surprises that Peter experienced on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection.
a. He was surprised to hear that Jesus wanted to meet with all his disciples, even Peter.
b. And then he must have surely been surprised when Jesus made a private and personal resurrection appearance to Peter.
4. We would think that this would surely be enough to make Peter feel like the failures of his denial of Jesus were behind him, that God was over it and so was he, but it appears that wasn’t the case for Peter.
a. It looks like Peter was still struggling to allow himself to begin to serve the Lord again.
5. Let’s turn to John 21 and see how Jesus tried to help Peter experience a new beginning after Peter had failed and needed a clean slate, and that’s what Jesus wanted to give him.
D. Sometime after the Resurrection of Jesus, but before His Ascension back to heaven, Jesus appeared again to some of his disciples.
1. Seven of them had returned to their home area around the Sea of Galilee.
2. Peter, it appears was still grieving over the way he had denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’ trial, and so Peter said to the others, “I am going fishing” (vs. 3).
a. The others joined him, and they spent the entire night on the lake without catching a single fish.
b. As night turned into day, a shadowy figure appeared on the shore and asked them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
c. Not realizing it was Jesus, they shouted back, “No!”
d. The stranger told them to throw their nets on the right-hand side of the boat and they would catch some fish.
e. For whatever reason, they did what the stranger suggested, and they caught a huge catch - 153 fish to be exact.
3. Certainly, this must have caused Peter to remember a similar occasion several years before when Jesus had performed the same miracle in his presence (found in Luke 5:1-11).
4. It is interesting to contemplate that many times we might only be a ship’s width away from success and blessing, with the difference being the simple obedience to the command of God.
E. When they could not pull their nets in the boat, John realized that the stranger on shore was Jesus and said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
1. Peter, always the impetuous one, quickly put on his outer garment, jumped into the lake, and swam the 100 yards back to shore.
2. When the other disciples arrived with their load of fish, they found that Jesus had fish cooking on a fire, and had bread ready for breakfast.
3. Perhaps it is significant, in light of what happened next, that the only other time the Greek term for “charcoal fire” is used in in the New Testament, is in the same book of John and is used to refer to the charcoal fire in the courtyard where Peter denied the Lord.(18:18).
4. By one charcoal fire he denied Christ and by the other charcoal fire he was restored by Christ.
F. Jesus invited the disciples to come and eat some breakfast, which they did.
1. The food probably went unnoticed, and they may have experienced an uncomfortable silence.