Contributed by Stephen Schwartz on Dec 17, 2001 (message contributor)
Summary: Can Christians today be restored to full time Christian ministry such as Peter was after denying the Lord three times?
Have you ever lost something or misplaced something and you couldn’t remember where you had placed that something. If you are like me you take that something and place it in a safe place where you know you can find it again. The problem with this is that after a certain amount of time has passed, you completely forget about where that safe place is located. Then one day you need to find that something and low and behold, you just can’t remember where it was placed. You search the house for hours or maybe even days when you stumble onto that secluded safe spot and then everything comes back to memory. Now I knew why I placed that something in that safe place and you commit that place to memory for future use. Has anyone ever followed that scenario? I have done just that any number of times.
The topic tonight is about being restored. We will discuss how Peter was restored to his position as leader of the apostles after his greatest disappointment. Let’s take the story as it appears in the twenty-first chapter of John verses 15-19.
When therefore they had breakfasted Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He says to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He says to him, “Feed my lambs.” He says to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He says to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He says to him, “Tend my sheep.” He says to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he says to him, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” Jesus says to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger you used to gird yourself and walk where you willed; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and lead you where you do not will (to go).” This he said signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when he had said this he says to him, “Follow me”.
At times throughout our life there will be moments when we will be in need of restoration because of events that transpire. There are three major themes when restoration must come to us. (1) When are self-esteem doesn’t allow us. (2) When we have failed miserably in the past. (3) When or pride won’t allow ourselves to be used.
Let’s look at peter and see why he is in need of restoration.
Throughout the Gospels’ Peter was the leader of this apostolic band that followed Jesus. However, at the time of the crucifixion the group had disbanded and there seemed to be no one in leadership. Peter had denied Jesus three times and was greatly disappointed with his cowardliness. All the others had run off in different directions. General doom and gloom had overwhelmed the group and all seemed to be at lost. After Jesus had died there seemed no need to carry out the work, which needed to be done.
But then something tremendous had happened, Jesus rose from the dead.
Now the doom and gloom was gone and the disciples could face each day with a new spring in their step. Christ had appeared to the entire group at one time or another and it is clear the Jesus had defeated death. Within the coming weeks it is made clear to them where there duty should lie. No longer do they wait in fear for their demise but are excited and hopeful that their Lord lives. They are still unsure of what Jesus would have them to do but are encouraged in the fact they will be used.
All this is background to the ultimate story that is taking place – Jesus is restoring Peter to his place as leader of the apostles. Publicly, before a few of his peers, He was giving Peter charge over this group who will ultimately follow him. Peter is without a doubt leader of the first church.
As Peter was a simple fisherman, after the death of Jesus, he went back to what he knew, fishing. He was not educated. He was not of royalty. He was not of priestly birth. He was just a fisherman of common lineage. What could anyone expect of him? He didn’t have much in the way of self-esteem. He knew where his place was among men. He belonged to the lower class of Jews. This is where he expected to live and die.
When we receive our self-esteem from anything but Jesus, we cheat ourselves of our own self-respect. Living life within the bounds that society places upon us will continually beat us down till we are nothing in our own eyes. We will develop a low self-esteem if we listen to what the world says about us in our station in life. When we live for our places of employment and expect to live a fulfilled life in what we accomplish for ourselves we will ultimately be disappointed with the outcome. Work should be how we make a living not how we define how successful we are in life. How many work aholics are there because they are always striving to be better at success through their work? Low self-esteem will develop because no one can succeed because of his or her own abilities; they will fail at life.