Summary: What made Simon Peter, a man of failures, become Simon Peter, a man of fame?
March 20, 1996
His name is Simon Peter. We remember him as the disciple who tried to walk on water, but started sinking when the waves and wind blew his faith away. He testified Jesus as the Son of God, yet denied Him three times in one night. He swore never to forsake his Master, but ran away for fear of his life. Simon Peter: A man of broken promises. A man of failures.
His name is Simon Peter. We remember him as a great apostle. He boldly and tirelessly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. He baptized hundreds and thousands of people. He performed miracles by healing the sick and raising the dead. People chased his shadow believing that it could heal them. Simon Peter: A man of success. A man of Fame.
What made Simon Peter, a man of failures, become Simon Peter, a man of fame? Let us pray.
What made Simon Peter, a man of broken promises, become Simon Peter, a man faithful to his promises? What turned Peter’s defeat into victory? What transformed Peter’s failures into fame? What made Simon Peter, a discouraged fisherman from Galilee, become Simon Peter, an inspired fisher of men for God’s kingdom?
A. The Divine Initiative: Jesus stood on the shore
The answer to these questions is found in the Gospel of John chapter 21, beginning with verse 4. Reading from King James Version, it reads: " But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." This is now the second week after Christ has been resurrected. Jesus has already appeared to his disciples on two occasions. This will be the third time that Jesus will be with his disciples. And now Jesus is standing on the shore, looking and observing his disciples. His disciples, on the other hand, are busy doing their job. They have spent the whole night fishing, but got nothing. Peter and the other disciples still love their old job.
They still love to be called fishermen rather than being called fishers of men. They still enjoy casting their nets rather than casting God’s word. They still like rowing their boats rather than rowing God’s kingdom into the hearts of men. But Jesus is standing on the shore. Now it’s early in the morning. It’s their last chance to catch some fish. They are working harder than before, hoping to salvage the night spent fishing. While Peter and the disciples are busy, Jesus is standing on the shore.
The failures of Peter were turned into fame, his defeat into victory, not because he was back at his old job, nor because he labored so hard all night. His defeat was turned into victory because Jesus, the same Jesus that Peter denied, came early in that morning and was standing on the shore.
Like Peter, our failures could turn into fame, our defeat into victory, because of the divine initiative: Jesus is standing and knocking on our door. We may be back into our old habits and lifestyles, but Jesus is standing and knocking on our door. We may be busy trying to gain success, but Jesus is standing and knocking on our door. Our passage continues.
B. The Divine Miracle
1. Honesty: They answered, No.
Verse 5, "Then Jesus saith unto them, Children have ye any fish? They answered him, No." Instead of answering no, Peter and the other disciples could have said, "Yes, we have some fish," in an attempt to boast their ego. Imagine a group of experienced fishermen, spent the whole night fishing, and catching nothing. It’s like looking at Billy Graham, an experienced speaker, standing in the pulpit and could not even speak a single word. This is a humiliating experience for Peter and the disciples. Yet, without any attempt to boast their ego, they honestly answered, " No, we got nothing."
If there is anything that will prevent Christ from turning our failures into fame, our defeat into victory, is to be self-righteous, and to deny our failures. To think that we are rich and in need of nothing. But deep inside, we are poor and naked.
2. Obedient to God’s Instruction
Verse 6, "And he said unto them, Cast your net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find." Peter and the other disciples are experienced fishermen. They have spent all their lives fishing. They knew when and where to fish. They could have ignored the instruction of Jesus. But they did not. And so they cast their net into the right side of the boat, and they were not able to pull it for it was full of fish.
Yes, Peter and the other disciples were experienced fishermen, but Christ is the creator of all fish. Peter probably knew when and where to fish, but the fish knew Christ and they obeyed when Christ commanded them, "Go, gather at the right side of the boat." Peter was honest enough to accept his failures. He was willing to follow Christ’s instruction. And Christ was able to perform another miracle for him and the other disciples.