Summary: Have you ever been confused or disillusioned about your calling? Expository sermon explores Jesus interation concerning Peter’s calling: (1)Motive (2)Assignment (3)Focus. Used clip from the movie "The Rookie" as illustration.

Ministry Essentials

Fortifying the Foundation # 47

John 21:15-25[1]



Have you ever been confused or disillusioned about your calling? Early in your experience, God spoke to you and called you to serve Him in a particular way. You knew it. You knew it was from God. You knew it! But then stuff happened. Then you tried and it didn’t work. There may have been a specific failure or you may have just felt very ineffective. In either case, you got so discouraged that you began to wonder if it would really ever happen.[2] Perhaps there are those here this morning who deeply need fresh assurance from God concerning His purpose for you. Sometimes we just need God to intervene and renew the call that He has on our lives.

That happened to Moses. As a young prince in Egypt he knew God had called him to deliver Israel. He did his best to fulfill that calling. But nothing worked out. In fact, he had to flee Egypt and live as a fugitive of justice. After 40 years in the wilderness I suspect he had pretty well given up on ever being a great deliver. That’s when the Lord intervened and he had his burning bush experience. God had not forgotten and God had not given up on His plan. Abraham got discouraged and God had to affirm His purposes for him.[3] There is Elijah, a great prophet of God, but when Jezebel threatened, he ran. There by the river he lay worn out, disillusioned, and discouraged. That’s when God met with him and re-established him in his calling.[4]

And that’s what we see going on here in our text with Peter. This incident is not about God restoring Peter in his relationship with the Lord. That has already happened. That began immediately after Peter’s failure. Remember when the rooster crowed and Jesus looked into the eyes of Peter. That look of love and compassion melted Peter’s heart and the Bible says he went out and wept. He wept sincere tears of repentance.[5] After Jesus rose from the dead the first message sent from the empty grave was, “Go and tell his disciples and Peter...”[6] Peter continued to be on Jesus’ mind and Jesus pursued his restoration.

In fact, after His resurrection He met privately with Peter.[7] We do not know the conversation that took place in that meeting between Peter and Jesus. Some of our experiences with God are for public knowledge and some are very private and personal. Surely, in that quite time alone with Jesus, Peter’s fellowship with the Lord was restored. I share that because I don’t think our text this morning is about Peter’s fellowship with the Lord being restored.[8] This is Peter’s restoration to ministry. Peter may have felt that even though the Lord had forgiven him, he would never be trusted with ministry again. Would he ever be able to actually fulfill his destiny in God? Would he ever be the vessel of honor for God that he had hoped to be? This incident puts all those questions to rest. Here Jesus is re-establishing Peter’s ministry calling. Look with me at this incident and see how Jesus addresses the three most fundamental essentials of ministry: ministry motive, ministry assignment, and ministry focus.

I. Jesus approaches the issue of motive with a question, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” In John 21:15 they have finished their breakfast. The practical, natural need for daily food has been met.[9] Jesus has gently connected with these disciples. And now He turns His attention to one individual, Peter. “Simon son of John, do you love me? While restoring Peter to ministry he begins with the most basic issue of all—our love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you want to feel the impact of that question, put you own name there. “Richard, do you love me? Megan, do you love me? Gary, do you love me? Dustin, do you love me?” It is all fairly academic and remote until we make it personal in that way. “Do you love me,” Jesus asks.

There are all kinds of questions Jesus might have asked Peter that day. He might have begun with, “Why did you deny me? What were you thinking? What do you have to say for yourself?” Jesus is not implying that Peter doesn’t love Him. He is bringing Peter to the bedrock of what makes him tick. He is bringing him to an awareness of why he can and must serve. “Do you love me?” Nothing is more fundamental to who Peter is than that. No question is more basic to real ministry than that question. He does not ask him if he is a great speaker, a great people person. He does inquire about his seminary training or Bible knowledge. He doesn’t analyze his personality to see whether he has the people skills to do the job. All those factors are important. But they are not basic. The one basic qualification for ministry is found in this most probing question from Jesus, “Do you love me?”

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