Summary: To tell people that Jesus is ready for them to try being a disciple again.
Title: Good News for People Living in a Bad News World Part 3: Before you throw in the towel…”
Theme: New Starts/redemption
Task: To tell people that Jesus is ready for them to try being a disciple again.
Text: John 21.1-19
A reality show debuted in 2006 called The Contender hosted by boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stalone, who played Rocky in the Rocky movies. The premise for the show provided a dozen amateur boxers a shot at contending for a million dollars and a new life. All they had to do was defeat their opponents in the ring.
One night I watched an episode that featured two boxers named Alfonso and Peter. I sensed from what the hosts said that they believed Peter showed more promise than Alfonso. They liked his build, they liked his confidence, and they liked his style. He was a solid package.
Alfonso, however, although he was good, was missing something. Stalone and Leonard couldn’t quite put their finger on it but they sensed it. And therefore didn’t think he had what it took to become The Contender.
Alfonso and Peter squared off in the ring. It was an exciting bout. Early on it was all Peter. But as the rounds progressed Alfonso came on. And by the end of it Alfonso fought very well. When the final bell rang it was anybody’s match. After a few anxious minutes the judges announced the winner and gave the “W” to Alfonso.
Peter was shocked. He stood in the ring in disbelief. He was devastated and very disappointed in his performance. He left the gym that night not just a defeated boxer, but a defeated man. He had let himself down, his wife down, and his kids down. The better life they were dreaming about because dad would succeed would never come to be. As I watched him leave the gym that night I couldn’t help but wonder if he didn’t question his ability as a boxer and think about throwing in the towel.
“Throwing in the towel” is a phrase that comes from the boxing arena. When a coach wanted to stop the fight because the health and well being of the boxer was in jeopardy. Ever since then “throwing in the towel” has become a metaphor for bowing out, giving up, stopping, surrendering, and/or quitting.
Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel? How about when it comes to making a relationship work? Or what about work itself? Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder or chasing whatever it is you’re chasing through your work? Have you considered throwing in the towel when it comes to trying to fit in or be liked by everyone? What about when it comes to contending for Christ and living the Christian lifestyle?
If so, you’re not alone. Before you go through with it however, I want you to know what Jesus said to Jewish heavy weight contemplating the same in John 21.1-19.
[S] “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with the fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.