Pt. 3 - Why Are You Fishing?
What was once called boycotting has been replaced by the term Cancel culture. It is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to have been "cancelled". In an attempt to use popular communication platforms to call out very real, dangerous, destructive and evil behavior like racism and sexual abuse at times this movement has gone off the rails and become, as one man said, like the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. This movement has targeted authors like JK Rowling. Businesses like "MyPillow.com". Athletes like Drew Breeze. And even fairy tales like Snow White. In doing so, the cancel culture has in many cases lost credibility with the average American. However, I want to encourage you today to embrace Cancel Culture. Before you dismiss me, I want you to listen carefully.
Text: Luke 22:33-34, 54-62, John 21:3 (TLB)
Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!” After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted. About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.
John 21:3 - Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
It is an account that you are probably familiar with. It is an account you have or are living at this moment. Peter filled with resolve, boldness, passion writes a check with his mouth that he can't cash with his actions. He boasts that he is committed, sold out, all in. He informs Jesus that he is His ride or die. He breaks out into the stanza of "though no go with me still I will follow." The only problem is he doesn't. In fact, he fails miserably. His words of resolve fizzle into full blown regret. Confronted by a girl around a fire in the moment that Jesus needed him most, Peter couldn't pass the test. Peter couldn't toe the line. He couldn't come through. He denies Jesus just like Jesus said he would. The result is an impromptu fishing trip. It sounds innocent enough. However, the truth is it is sinister in reality. It is backtracking. It is returning to the old life. It is casing aside every God dream and every prophetic word. This fishing trip is a declaration that everything I witnessed in the last 3 years was for nothing and that I have nothing to show for it. The miracles didn't matter. The lessons were lost. Peter has given up. So, with one simply phrase "I'm going fishing" he throws in the towel and throws us a hint that we must learn to practice cancel culture or we will be cancelled.
Peter teaches us that . . .
We must cancel regret!
Notice that the enemy uses Peter's regret to get him to go back to his comfort zone and his former way of life.
The enemy will use regret to morph into guilt that acts as glue to keep you bound in seasons God has already moved past and removed from your record. The problem is if we don't cancel regret, then we will constantly revisit what we can’t revise. You can relive every word said and every action taken. You can replay the tape again and again but there is nothing you can do to reverse what took place. This regret then impacts how we talk and believe. There is no longer the language of faith. We no longer say, "God still can." Instead, we begin to talk about what could have been or what would have been. We become trapped in grief over old opportunities as if God can’t create another opportunity.
Let me see if I can get this down to where we live. Like Peter we fail. We say words we don't live. We make promises we don't keep. We make resolutions that are broken before the ink dries. We intend to turn over a new leaf only to buckle under pressure and act like we always act. Regret is our constant companion and so then some of you can't be the spouse you are supposed to be because you can’t get over the spouse you used to be. Parent. Friend. Man. Woman. We can’t overcome because we are punishing ourselves for what we did. We end up back at our old fishing grounds. Our old attitudes. Our old responses. Our old habits. And like Peter, regret leads to stagnation - back to fishing! However, I came by to implore you to learn the real lesson of Peter's story so that it can become your story. We must cancel regret!
The enemy used Peter's regret to stagnate. Jesus used Peter's regret to educate!
Notice the difference when you contrast the regret of another disciple that betrays Jesus. Judas’ regret, in the hands of the enemy, leads him to forfeit his future. Peter’s regret, in the hands of Jesus, helps him focus his future.
We must place our regret in Jesus' hands. The angels in Jesus' tomb inform the Peter of Jesus' response to Peter's regret. In Mark 16:7 the ladies who find the empty tomb first are instructed - Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
In other words, Jesus still includes Peter as one of His chosen ones! Denial and all. Failure and all. In that one moment and then the fact that Jesus meets Peter on the seashore while he is fishing tells us that
Grace isn’t just about sin; it is also about our conscience.
In Hebrews 9 the writer reminds us of the Old Testament method of handling sin. The writer reminds us that priests would bring bulls and goats to sacrifice for the forgiveness of the nation's sin. In Hebrews 9:9, the writer lets us in on a powerful truth. He says, "For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them."
In other words, these sacrifices purified the people of sin, but it didn't deal with regret or guilt. Their conscious wasn't cancelled.
But the writer then goes on and makes this life changing, regret cancelling statement (Hebrews 13:13-) . . . "Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins."
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross did what sacrificing bulls and goats could not do. Jesus' sacrifice deals with sin and guilt (conscious). So now, Jesus doesn't just deal with Peter's sin. He also deals with Peter's regret. And in the moment that Peter's name is mentioned and in the moment Jesus shows up on the seashore Peter does more than just come to an understanding of grace . . . he receives grace. He received grace from Jesus and from himself. He forgave himself. I still have a place in the chosen. I still have place at the fire next to Jesus!
Some of us have received grace for our sin but it is now time to receive grace for our regret. Cancel your regret to experience real redemption. Redemption is defined as "Regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt." Real redemption isn't just getting our sin cleansed. It is getting our regret removed. We come to an understanding that our debt is removed.
So, we must learn that if we will receive grace from Jesus and give grace to ourselves, then we can experience what Peter experienced and our greater days are ahead.
Maybe the best way to show you this in action is to remind you quickly about Joseph. Do you remember Joseph? He was the guy in the Old Testament whose brothers sold him into slavery because they were jealous of how much his dad loved him. He was the favorite child. He was his father's pet. His brother's sell him and he spends years in prison because of it. Joseph interprets the Pharaoh's dream and informs him that a famine is coming. So, Pharaoh pulls Joseph out of prison and puts Joseph in charge of all the food in the nation. Prior to any reunion with his brothers. Prior to any relationship being restored. Prior to any apology offered or given Genesis 41 tells us that Joseph has two sons. He names his oldest son Manasseh. Do you remember what that name means? Manasseh means, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household." Can I tell you this morning that you can cancel regret and allow grace to be applied to the pain of your action, your choice, your decision and in even in the middle of your pain God can help your pain give birth to such a great new season that you forget the pain, the trouble, the failure! Joseph declares God's grace has helped me move on!
Cancel regret and you can move on.
Peter we can move on from this and you can feed my sheep. You can move on from the failure. You can move on from the slip. You can move on from the words. You can move on from the divorce. You can move on from the bankruptcy. You can move on from the funeral. You can move on from the addiction. Cancel regret and allow God to help move to a new season. Allow grace to work on more than your sin.
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Some of you need to move on today. It is time to practice cancel culture and cancel regret by putting it into the hands of Jesus. What you did may have been bad. It may have produced pain. It may have been life altering. But it is time to move on. Why are you fishing when you could be flourishing?