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Summary: Making the most of the second chances God gives us to "feed his sheep."

Carrying the Second Bulb 4-22-07

John 21:1-19

We all know from history class that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879. He wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea, some guy in England actually made a working light bulb the year before. But Edison was the first person to make a bulb that would last more than just a few hours. Edison worked on his invention for years and it took him hundreds of attempts to finally get it right. And, he finally did find the answer and then set about the task of making light bulbs. But, since there was no such thing as mass production at the time, each bulb had to be made by hand and it took his whole team 24 straight hours of meticulous, painstaking work to make just one bulb. James Newton tells a story about a time when Edison’s team had just completed the fabrication of one of these bulbs. Edison himself gave it to a young boy, who was helping in the lab, to carry up the stairs to another part of the facility. Needless to say, each bulb was very precious and the boy knew it. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You’ve probably guessed what happened— the boy was concentrating so hard on making sure that the bulb didn’t slip from his hands that he forgot to watch his feet. He tripped at the top of the stairs and dropped the bulb and it shattered. It took the entire team twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, exhausted from so much work and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. So who did he give it to? You might think that, after the last disaster, he wouldn’t trust anyone but himself to carry the precious item. But instead, Edison gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. Edison knew that the boy was probably devastated by the first incident. So he decided to give the boy a second chance. (http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/second_chance.htm)

Think of a time when you were given a second chance— when you really screwed up— when you let somebody down who was really counting on you. But then, you were given the opportunity to make things right. It may not have been such a costly mistake as made by the boy in the story, but it may have been an incident that was just as devastating to you— to your confidence and self esteem. Some of us may be having trouble coming up with just one incident— the list of our missteps is long and not so distinguished. But sometimes, even though we screwed up royally, someone notices how badly we want to make things right, and they give us another chance. I started thinking about second chances when I read today’s scripture. But, it wasn’t so much the scripture itself as it was the heading for verses 15 through 19 as found in the NIV Bible. The title of this passage reads, “Jesus Reinstates Peter.” And I started thinking of some of the things Peter had done and how he may have wanted a second chance to make things right.

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter had done some things that he might have thought made him unworthy of even being called a disciple. Jesus often had some harsh words for his disciples because sometimes, they just didn’t get it. But, in Peter’s case, there are two incidents that really stand out. The first incident is recorded in Mark 8. Peter had just admitted to Jesus that he believed Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed one of God. Then Jesus begins to tell the disciples about his own death—what will happen and how God will be glorified in it. Peter takes Jesus to the side and questions him about what he said. You can imagine what Peter said, “Hey Jesus, what do you mean you’re going to die. You still have a lot of work to do. You know that little problem we have here with the Romans?” And, Jesus’ response to Peter? “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33) Pretty harsh words from your rabbi, don’t you think?

If Peter wasn’t devastated by that little incident, his reaction to what happened later definitely shows regret over his reluctance to follow his master. We all know what happened. Jesus said Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed// and that’s exactly what Peter did— he not only denied being a disciple of Jesus, three times he denied that he even knew the man. Then the rooster crowed. Peter heard the sound, remembered the words of Jesus, and went off and wept. This wasn’t Peter simply going off to have a good cry. This was an anguish that tormented him to the very depths of his soul. He had denied knowing the Son of God. How could he ever live with himself again? If he only had a second chance.

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