Summary: Jesus reinstates Peter are his failings (PowerPoint slides for this talk are available on request - email:

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Coming to Terms with Your Calling

Reading: John chapter 21 verses 1-17.


• The year was 1920.

• The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries.

• Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith.

• One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary.

• Over and over again, he prayed,

• “Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me.”

• Now, at last, his prayer would be answered.

• When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down.

• He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test.

• Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour.

• What would he do?

• As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart.

• If he could not go as a missionary,

• He would build a church which could send out missionaries.

• And that is what he did.

• Oswald Smith Pastored The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada,

• Which at that time sent out more missionaries than any other church.

• Oswald Smith brought God into the situation,

• And God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service.

As we start to look at the final chapter in John’s gospel:

• Peter has taken a detour.

• That the last few days had been an emotional roller coaster for Peter.

• In the last week, he had gone from the giddy heights of Palm Sunday.

• Where he half-expected Jesus to be crowned king & maybe set up his kingdom.

• To the utter depths of despair on Good Friday.

• And then swept up to a mega high again, with the news of the resurrection.

• Now Peter has gone home;

• Back to the ‘familiar’ shores of Galilee (also known as the Sea of Tiberias and Lake Genesaret).

Peter and the others had gone back home:

• Note: You realise that Jesus and the disciples were northerners don’t you?

• Like Peter they all had a strong accent;

• (ill: And probably liked mushy peas and brown sauce or the Israeli equivalent).

• There was one southerner among the twelve - Judas,

• But it’s probably best not to mention him!


• You might be wondering what are they doing in Galilee?

• Shouldn’t they have remained in Jerusalem, and that’s down in the South?

Answer: No! They should not be in Jerusalem.

• Twice in Matthew chapter 28 they were told to go Galilee:

• First: by an angel (Matthew chapter 28 verses 7).

• Second: by Jesus himself (Matthew chapter 28 verses 10).

• Who told them to go to Galilee, and he said he would meet them there.

Notice that no specifics are given as to exactly where in Galilee:

• So the disciples go home, back to families, friends and comforting surroundings;

• Back also to the place where they first met the Lord.

• I wonder if that’s what the Lord had in mind,

• He would once again remind them of their true calling?

(1). A Night of Defeat (vs 1-3).

• Peter’s decision to go fishing was not a good one.

• In Luke chapter 5 verses 1-11 Jesus had called him to leave fishing & follow him.

• Peter in these verses is returning to the old life he had before he met with Jesus;

• Notice everything in this scene speaks of defeat.



• It was dark – “It was night time” (vs 3)

• Is this a picture that Peter was no longer walking in the light?

• ill; Chapter 3:2 - John tells us that Nicodemus came “at night”;

• A picture of him being in spiritual darkness.

• ill; Chapter 13:30 - When Judas went out to betray Jesus we are told “It was night”.

• Once again a picture - his actions were evil – he was walking in darkness.

• For Peter he was working in the dark (vs 3)

• I can’t help but feel this is a picture of his spiritual condition.


• They had no direct word from the Lord.

• Instead of waiting and praying and fasting and seeking God.

• Peter decides to “Lean on his own understanding”,

• He decides to go fishing.

• His impatience distracted him into unproductive activities;

• Had he waited – his wise use of time & energy would have yielded a much better return


• Their fishing expedition ends in utter failure;

• Verse 3: “That night they caught nothing”.

• All night long they fished

• And they caught nothing!

• How frustrated Peter and the disciples must have felt;

• When time after time they lowered their nets and they pulled them up empty.

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