Summary: This sermon focuses on Peter’s restoration by looking at the impact of his denials and what he learned from it, primarily that he needed to be honest with God about His spiritual condition.
During a Pastor’s meeting, an old pastor stood up to testify to his faith. Yet his testimony surprised a number of People. The pastor stood up and looked at the group and said, “I am a lay pastor of a small, not-growing church. I am not ordained. I am not seminary trained. I was asked to leave both Bible colleges I attended. I am divorced and remarried. On any given day I am capable of being a jerk with my wife and family. I am terminally insecure, which causes me to compensate with bouts of arrogance. At times people irritate me, and I hide from them. I am impulsive, which causes me to say things I shouldn’t and make promises I cannot keep. I am inconsistent.
My walk with Christ is a stuttering, stumbling, bumbling attempt to follow Him. At times His presence is so real I can’t stop the tears, and then, without warning, I can’t find Him. Some days my faith is strong, impenetrable, and immovable—and some days my faith is weak, pathetic, helpless, knocked about like a paper cup floating on the ocean in the middle of a hurricane.
I have been a Christian for 45 years. I am familiar with the vocabulary of faith, and I am often asked to give advice about matters of faith. But I am still a mess. I am light-years away from being able to say with Paul, “Copy me.” I am 56 years old and still struggling—a flawed, clumsy, unstable follower of Jesus. A bona fide failer.”
Have you ever felt like you let somebody down? A spouse, a boss, a team-mate; it’s not the best feeling in the world, especially when you had boasted how they could beyond a shadow of a doubt depend on you. You could be trusted, you wouldn’t let them down. But you did. Now to disappoint someone who loves you hurts, but to disappoint the One who laid down His life for you, that’s painful.
Peter’s life was one of ups and downs. After boasting that he would never leave Jesus, Peter watched from a distance as Jesus is led away. Peter followed at a distance, close enough to see Jesus, but not to close to be seen with Jesus.
And as Jesus was being tried in the Kangaroo court of the High Priest, Peter stood outside and chose to warm himself by the fire, and three times he was recognized, three chances he had to make a bold stand for his Lord, and three times he blew it. And when the rooster crowed, scripture says, that Peter wept bitterly. A bona fide failure.
Yet three days later, the woman came with news of the amazing. The tomb is empty, Peter is elated, and Jesus appears to Peter and the others. Yet I wonder what must have been going through Peter’s mind. Imagine it this way, suppose you witness a crime, and the District Attorney who just happens to be your good friend, calls on you to testify. Your testimony can make or break the case. Yet you are afraid to do so and even though others are counting on you, you refuse to testify due to fear. The district attorney manages somehow to win the case and you are glad that the criminal is behind bars. Yet how will the District Attorney view you now. Will he still call you friend, or was your act of cowardice to much.
I imagine this is how Peter must of felt. He was glad that Jesus was alive, but how would their relationship be? Did Peter go to far away to return? Perhaps you can put yourself in Peter’s place this morning. You have sinned and went away from God and now you wonder, can God still love me after all that I’ve done. Is there still a place and purpose for me in His kingdom?
This morning I want us to look at the event where Jesus appears to the disciples for the third time and confronts Peter with a fireside chat. The account is found in John 21, you can follow along in your bibles, or in the handout provided for you in your bulletin.
John 21:1 starts off, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called 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 Peter has gone back to his old stomping grounds and doing what he knew best…fishing. And Peter fished like many of you do because it says in vs. 3 “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.” Then it says in vs. 5 that, 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.”