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Discover the Book - Oct. 14, 2007

  • 2007 Oct 14

The Lesson Peter Never Forgot

Part 2 continued from October 13th




Just think what the disciples had been through.  

  • The whirlwind of Christ's last days…
  • The crowds at Palm Sunday, the huge response to Jesus as He rode in to the city…
  • The sublime warmth of the Last Supper and all Christ's words and actions...
  • Then the sadness of the walk and talk with Jesus headed to Gethsemane, and their dozing off only to be rudely ripped from sleep by a crowd of 600 armed soldiers with torches and chains…
  • Then the blur of Christ's arrest, the long dark night with one disciple’s suicide, nine disciples flight into their individual hiding places and Peter and John’s vigil at the courtyard of Caiaphas.  


That was what confused Peter every time he went back over those memories.  

Peter still felt the shame of his denials even after the angel sent word through the women that Christ was alive; and he felt it still as he reflected on seeing Jesus alive and so powerfully risen.  


For Peter it just was too much to compute, his system overloaded and now in default mode he hangs up on the doorway of walking with Jesus a “gone fishing” sign. Back to what he knew and could handle, that is what fishing meant. He could count on it, live comfortably and predictably.


He loved the quiet shores, the early morning mists and the rhythmic sounds of the water. Even the storms were okay because he knew this place and felt so comfortable here. Ministry with Jesus had been exciting but he just wasn’t sure about the future.  


For most of us this “gone fishing” moment will come somewhere along the way. We have been serving the Lord but someone or something just knocks us off track.  Confused and unsure, without clear direction we decide to get out of the flow, away from the pressures and just think. We get into our boats and just go sit and sort things out.  


Unseen on the shore, Jesus waited for them to realize how empty and fruitless it is to step away from following Jesus. It is very hard to follow Jesus. Paul called it agonizing, and so it was. But hard as it is to follow Jesus, it is far worse to not do so! That was the lesson Jesus led them though that morning.  


1. Jesus wanted them to know they couldn’t do anything on their own (vv. 1-3). “… and that night they caught nothing.”  


What would ever prompt men who just witnessed the greatest event in the history of the Universe (Christ's Resurrection) to go back to their “old life”? It was their flesh.  


Peter was frustrated, he was uncertain what would be his future after his failure—so he said I am going back to what I know best. He forgot, or maybe was trying to forget the day he left his nets (Matthew 4:20). What ever his reason, Jesus again knew their hearts and was going to renew that call and draw them away from serving in the energy of the flesh.  


All night long the disciples had cast the net, waited, drew the net back, pulled it in soaking their clothes, and finding each time—nothing.




Nothing.  That is how it can be in our jobs, our homes, our careers and our hearts when we take our lives back from Christ's hands and take the reins into our hands. Our work is empty, our relationships are empty, our accomplishments don’t cheer us, and our past track record no longer encourages us. We dip the nets of life as we always have and each time they come up empty.  


Jesus wanted these men to feel the emptiness of life lived in the energy of the flesh. So the little boat was drifting aimlessly, the men were sitting stiffly. They were wet, cold and sore as the first light of dawn began to rise over the hills of Galilee.  


Maybe you have gotten out of the main stream of life and ministry with Jesus. You have been hurt or bumped or confused and just got in your boat and gone back to the old life. Jesus wants to meet you on the shore and gently restore you back to the blessing and joy of your call to ministry. All believers are called to the ministry. All believers have been bought at a price. And all believers need to serve the Lord with their body that belongs to the Lord. So we all have a calling to ministry.  


Jesus starts this final lesson for Peter and the disciples with a question crossing 100 yards of water and reaching those seven men in the boat.  


2. Jesus wanted them to know He won’t bless anything done apart from Him (vv. 4-5).  John 21:4-5 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”  


Have you caught any fish? Looking up in the dim light and through the mists of the lake they could see a lone figure on the shore. The answer was the obvious; but it was also a reminder of the emptiness of their nets and of their lives at that moment.  


“No” [nothing has come of all our efforts all night long]—that was the answer Christ wanted to hear.  Across the water a clear voice again reached the boat saying, “Cast your nets on the other side”. Peter was the greatest fisherman he had ever known; and inside began to boil with indignation at a landlubber’s impudence giving him directions.  


3. Jesus wanted them to learn to follow His directions for their lives (v.6). John 21:6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.  


But what else was there to do since nothing else mattered anyway. So Peter the leader, Peter the pendular, went from anger to resignation and the men followed throwing the net where they were commanded to throw it.  The sharp tug on the rope in his hand, the weight of an entire shoal of fish summoned by the Master of Creation—jerked Peter out of resignation and apathy to full alert.  


Instantly an old memory had flashed across his mind. The confident and commanding voice from the shore reminded him of a moment buried deeply in his past.  Luke 5:4-8 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”  


But the sight before Peter’s eyes of 153 of the largest, strongest, fighting and splashing fish ever surrounded by his nets instantly connected that event years back with this moment.  


The key is not why Jesus said, “Cast on the right side”, because if Jesus had said the left side, that is where the fish would have gone. It is not where we serve or how we serve but whether we serve at Christ's command!  The key was listening to Jesus, doing what He said, and not operating on our own initiative and in our own wisdom.  


Ministry that is self-prompted, self-directed, self-energized, and self-satisfied will always come up empty of eternal value and lead to emptiness of the soul.  


Again Peter was remembering Christ's words as he looked at Jesus in the distance. It was only a few days back that Christ's loving eyes had locked onto Peter’s in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ home, now Peter’s head jerked up, eyes squinting and riveting on that lone figure on the shore.  


4. Jesus wanted them to know that He blesses obedience. (vv. 7-11) John 21:7-11 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.  


As his heart told him the same he heard John’s voice behind him, filled with awe and worship for the miracle they were experiencing again. “It is the Lord!”  


Peter needed one thing always and only and that was to be back as close as he could be to Jesus. The pendulum had swung wildly these past days. But nothing drew him, and caught him like the thought of Christ's presence. In a flash he was overboard and swimming with all his might through those cold dark waters that had separated him from Jesus for even a moment.  

If you are listening to this story of Christ's dealing with Peter and likewise feel empty and frustrated and aimless—maybe you need to follow Peter’s lead.  


Stop anything else you are doing and lift your eyes to Jesus, gaze at Him and listen to what He commands you to do, and obey.  Jesus has a work for each of us to do and a way for us to do it—only when we are willing to stop, listen, and obey—can He do it.  


Have you seen Jesus? If you haven’t you can today. You can discover Jesus as you obey Him. Even if at this moment Jesus seems distant, far off or even unreal—that is normal. Sin always separates us from Him. If you want to obey Him, and if you will seek Him—you will find Him. As surely as those seven men found Jesus that morning you can also.  


You may be asking, “How can I find Jesus?” As a believer you just need to stop going your own self-prompted way, confess your sins and ask for His cleansing as you yield your way back to Him (I John 1:9). If you have never been saved, Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). Call upon Jesus as your Savior and by His grace turn away from your sins.  


5. Jesus wanted them to share the joy of His Presence through life (vv. 12-13). John 21:12-13 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.  


Onshore the scene was like the old days. Eating, talking, and in wonder before Jesus, quietly worshipping and adoring Him. As the day begins the distance of the past days of doubt and confusion are erased and the warmth of Christ's love is surrounding them. 


Remember fearful Peter who got caught in water over his head and cusses and swears that he didn’t know Jesus, and then Jesus turned and looked at him? Devastated Peter slips out into the dark to weep the bitter tears of failure, but Jesus comes looking for Him and gives him forgiveness. That is just what He does for each of us when we fail Him!  


6. Jesus restored Peter in public, showing all of them the only motive for ministry Christ accepts is LOVE. (vv. 15-17). John 21:15-17 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  


Then Jesus begins three distinct questions to Peter as they stood beside a fire of coals. The warmth evaporated as Peter flashed back to his worst memory. A similar setting, with a fire of coals late at night (John 18:18) with probing questions from the servants of Caiaphas, and relatives of Malchus, whose ear Peter had savagely severed. Three times by a fire Jesus questions Peter’s love; three times by a fire Peter denied loving Jesus.  


This message will continue tomorrow October 15th when we look at “Every Part of Christ's Three Questions is so full of Meaning.”

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