June 21, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
The title of the message today is “A Restoration that Leads to an Expectation.” A Restoration that Leads to an Expectation.
There is an ancient Middle-Eastern story of the great King Cyrus who had a general in his army whose wife committed treason. And so Cyrus was trying this woman for treason. She was brought before the great tribunal and she was sentenced to death. And as they were leaving with her off to prison, the husband, the general in Cyrus’ army, stood up for his wife and he said, “Please, King Cyrus, take my life instead of her’s.” Cyrus was blown away by this man’s actions, so much so that he turned to the courtroom and he said, “Could we punish such a great love as this?” And so they paroled the woman. They let her go. And as they were leaving, the general looked to his wife and he said, “Did you look at the eyes of Cyrus as he was allowing you to leave?” His wife looked back at him and said, “Sweetheart, I had my eyes on the one who was giving his life for me.”
Friends, when Jesus Christ calls Peter from the shore after him denying Jesus three times, we will meet a man who is laser focused on one person, so much so that he leaves his boat and the nets and jumps into the water headlong and swims to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to show you today from Scripture that despite Peter’s shortcomings and his past, God can still use him. And friends, I want to show you today that no matter what happened in your past, the final chapter of your life is yet to be written. I believe the best days of ministry…of your life could be ahead of you. And Jesus Christ can still use us where we are. Aren’t you glad of that? I know I am glad of that, amen? Let’s give the Lord a hand! I am glad of that.
And so I want to show you from the text how God can use us in spite of our shortcomings so that we can be confident in serving Him.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to John Chapter 21. John Chapter 21. We will consider Verses 1-14, just giving us the back story of where we will camp out and that is Verses 15 and following. So if you have your Bibles, John 21 Verse 1. Say “Word.” The Word of the Lord.
“After this Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.” Now, depending on what city you are standing at, facing the sea was how they referred to the Sea of Galilee. It is called the Sea of Galilee. It is called The Great Sea. It is called the sea of Gennesaret. It is called the Sea of Tiberias. It is the same Sea.
“And Jesus revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, (James and John), and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the short; yet the disciples did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, do you have any fish?’ They answered, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because of the quantity of fish. That disciples whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many fish, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”
The first thing I want you to write down if you are taking notes is this. We see this right from the text. Every disciple has a past. Every person has a past. Amen? We all have a past.
I want to do a quick character study on the life of Peter and sadly, through the years many people have looked at Peter as a super apostle, that Peter is holier than thou, that he possesses superior skills and extraordinary talents when really Peter is just like us. Peter is a man’s man. He is a fisherman.
Now he does have something that is important that we should notice and that is, Peter is boastful. Peter is not scared to speak his mind. Now that is good and bad as you see Peter gets in trouble and he is blessed for how he speaks. On once occasion, he stands up at Caesarea Philippi and he declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And Jesus said, “There is no way you knew that. God revealed that to you.”
On another occasion, Peter questions Jesus. And then on another occasion, Peter even denies Jesus with the same mouth he blesses the Lord is the same mouth he denies the Lord.
So let me show you just two hiccups in the life of Peter. Write down the first one. Peter questioned Jesus.
Go to Luke Chapter 5. Luke Chapter 5 Verse 1. Peter questioned Jesus. Here is another fishing excursion and Jesus tells Peter to push the boat out a little from the land. Look at Verse 1 of Chapter 5. When you are there, say “Word.”
“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on Him to hear the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.” (Where were they at? Audience participation part. The Sea of Galilee. The same place. Different part of the lake.) “And He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, Jesus asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and took nothing! But, at Your Word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 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. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’”
What is an interesting side note about the gospel of Luke is that every time you see the word “Lord,” write this down, it is an insight of transformation. It shows us that Jesus Christ is working in the heart of a man or a woman. We see it on another occasion in Luke Chapter 19 with the account of Zacchaeus.
Remember Zacchaeus was that corrupt tax collector who climbed a tree. He couldn’t see Jesus. Jesus spotted him in the tree and said, “I must come to your house today.” When Jesus walks in the door, Zacchaeus says this word to Jesus. “Lord, if I have wronged anyone, I will make it right.” And so we see this idea that Lord symbolizes a transformation that is happening in the life of someone.
Peter here says, “Lord, listen. We are fishermen. You are a carpenter. You are a stone mason. We know there is nothing in the water…but, if you insist, we will go out.” And Peter sees that Jesus was right. He predicts what is about to happen. And Peter falls on his knees and says, “Lord, I am a sinful man. Depart from me.”
So this is an instance where Peter questions the Lord. But let me show you another instance in Matthew Chapter 26 where Peter denies the Lord. Peter rejects Jesus. Look at Matthew 26 Verse 69. When you are there, say “Word.”
“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, ’You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ’I do not know what you mean.’ And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ’This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again he denied it with an oath: ’I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ’Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ’I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the say of Jesus, ’Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Now why am I highlighting the stained past of Peter? Because I want to show you today, Church, listen to me, that every one of us has a past, right? Peter is just like us. He is not a super apostle. You know, sadly through the years, we have wrongly equated the apostles with super heroes, right? And the problem with that is we think in our own minds, there is no way we can attain to their status. There is no way we can do what they did. But the fact is, we are just like them and they are just like us.
Peter was a man who made mistakes. He said things he wished he hadn’t have. Another thing about this that is interesting is that the fact that the Bible includes the short-comings of men and women throughout the pages of scripture is proof positive that the Bible is reliable and factual and inerrant. Why? Because if I was trying to make up a story and concoct a story in order to protect my reputation, I wouldn’t put my failures in it, would you? I would gloss that thing over and wax that up in such a way where I would look like the super hero, right? But the fact that we comb through all of the Bible and see men like David and Samson and Saul who have less than perfect pasts, are encouraging to us. Why? Because the Bible is true. The Bible is reliable. The Bible is trustworthy. The Bible is inerrant. The Bible is infallible.
And so we see in the text today that Peter, like us, had a past. Secondly, notice this. Every person in here needs forgiveness. Everyone has a past. Everyone needs forgiveness.
Lets go back to John Chapter 21, our text for today. Verse 15, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, 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.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said 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 said to Him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”
You know, what is interesting about the life of Peter is that his life is book ended on the Sea of Galilee around fishing. When Jesus met Peter, he was fishing. Mark Chapter 1, we see the first call to the disciples to officially follow Jesus. Drop your nets and follow Me. What were they doing? They were out fishing all night.
Then we see in Luke Chapter 5, which we just read, Jesus pushes out into the deep. What are they doing? They are fishing again. And here we are, not by happenstance but by providence, once again, they are by the seashore and they are fishing.
Jesus Christ…don’t miss this…is bringing them back to a place of familiarity, I think, to reinstate the call on Peter’s life. And we will get to that in a moment.
Now, commentators are divided on how this happened. I believe that Jesus Christ does not reinstate Peter to ministry or restore him in front of the group. I think what is happening here is, the disciples are camped out around this fire and then Jesus taps Peter on the shoulder and says, Hey, lets take a little walk. And as they are taking a walk, I believe Jesus is personally, intimately talking to Peter.
Now further evidence of this is found in Verse 20, if you look down in the text. It says that Peter has to turn around to notice John who is now trailing behind them in this personal conversation.
Now let me just say something off the record. I love John, the apostle. In fact, we all love John. We have loved John so much that we have been in the Gospel of John for 19 weeks now. We will have 21 total. John wrote the epistles. He wrote the book of Revelation. We love John as a writer, as an apostle. But lets be honest, John can be aggravating at times, right? I mean, lets be honest. Here is Peter trying to have an intimate relationship and encounter with Jesus and John is in earshot distance of this restoration or spiritual marker. And to make matters worse, John puts in there, in the midst of this restoration…oh, by the way, the one who is following was the one who Jesus loved the most. Now we love John, but John and Peter were at odds many times. It was this sibling rivalry, if you will, this brotherly love.
And so Jesus says to Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” There are three options for interpreting this question. The first option is this: Was Jesus asking Peter, do you love Me more than you love these men? Now we can assume that that is probably not what He is asking because Peter has proven time and time again that his loyalty to Jesus superseded his commitment to his fellow disciples.
The second question, which is a good possibility is that Jesus said, Do you love Me, Peter, more than these, this fishing enterprise, these boats, your job, your occupation, your future? Now that is a possibility but just because Peter goes back to fishing, as some have wrongly assumed, he is not permanently going back to fishing. Peter is doing what he knows. He likes to fish. I have got staff members who like to fish. Tim LaFleur will go fishing if you call him tomorrow. In fact, if you have a boat, he would love to go. But anyway, he loves to fish, right? That doesn’t mean he is going to be in the fishing business. And so, I don’t know if that is what is happening here.
Here is a third option. Peter, do you love Me more than these men love Me? See, Peter has boasted on many occasions. Lord, if they all fall away, not me. I am going with You. If I have to die for You, Lord, I will die for You. I will never deny You. That was Peter.
And I think what Jesus is doing here is, He is calling his bluff. Peter, you have said time and time again that I am first in your life. Well, now is the time to prove it. Do you love Me more than these?
If Jesus Christ were to ask you a personal question today, Do you love Me more than these, what would you say? Do you love Me more than your reputation? Do you love Me more than your socioeconomic class? Do you love Me more than your bank account? Do you love Me more than your grade-point average? Do you love Me more than your relationships? Do you love Me more than your boyfriend or your girlfriend? Do you love Me more than your children? Do you love Me more than your house or your cars or your career or your fame or your fortune? Do you love Me more than these?
You see, I think what Jesus was doing here is He was revealing to Peter the secret idols of his heart that he may have overlooked. And if we are not careful, folks, we can get caught up in idolatry and not know it.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Anything,” watch this, “Anything you love more than Jesus is an idol. I don’t care what it is.”
So I think what Jesus is doing is He has put His finger on the pulse of issues in Peter’s life and He is saying, listen, the road ahead is going to be tough and so you need to solidify your love for Me now.
Tim Keller in his helpful book, Counterfeit Gods, says this. “We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life. An idol is anything more important to you than God. Anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God. Anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”
Now, Jesus, You know that Peter loves You. I mean, what kind of question is that? Peter was the one who stood up around the disciples when You asked, “Who do you say that I am?” It was Peter who stood up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It was Peter who was privy to going up to the Mount of Transfiguration and he saw You and he met Moses and Elijah. Peter was part of the inner three, Jesus. What are You talking about?
Peter is the first one to hear how He is going to die. Peter was the one, after being filled with the Spirit of God in Acts Chapter 2, to get up and proclaim the gospel to hundreds and thousands of Jews at Pentecost. Peter was the one who stood before those religious, corrupt leaders and risked his life to say, “This Jesus you killed is both Lord and God.” Peter is the first one to take the gospel to the Gentiles and Peter is the first apostle to be imprisoned. Jesus, what are You asking Peter, do you love Me? Why are You doing that?
Jesus knew that Peter loved Him. Jesus wanted to make sure that Peter knew it. You see, Jesus knew that. Peter had said that. But, Peter, do you believe that? And so Jesus shows us in just a short section that one’s love for God is displayed more than just the confession of your lips, it is displayed also by the conduct of your life. You could profess Jesus all you want. Listen to me…how are you living? Because Jesus says, You love Me, feed My sheep. If you love Me, tend My lambs. Those are two different forms of love and I don’t have time to get into it because I don’t think it is very significant though it is insightful. But basically what Jesus is saying is this: If you love Me, you will do this.
Now Peter seems hard-headed. I mean, Jesus, why three times? Do you love Me? Yeah, Lord. Feed My sheep. Do you love Me? Yeah, Lord. Shepherd My flock. Do you love Me? Lord, you know that. Feed My sheep.
Do you know what Jesus is doing here? Jesus is reinstating him. He is redeeming him, in a sense, restoring him to ministry. You see, Peter has just denied Jesus three different times and Jesus now, in a full restoration, is in a sense, cancelling out the denial with an affirmation of service again. And you know how He does this? He brings Peter back to the same place and recreates the same environment as before.
Did you notice in your text, it says they are standing or sitting by a charcoal fire. Did you catch that in your text? Look at it. Now why is the charcoal fire important? Here is why. The only other time in the gospel of John where we see a charcoal fire is when Peter is standing by it in the courtyard warming himself up before he is about to deny Jesus. Jesus is recreating that event again. And so what He says is, there are three denials, there are three questions, there are three confessions, there are three commissions, feed My sheep, and are you ready for this…and it happens on the third encounter with these guys. Do you think this is by accident? Jesus is saying, Peter, this is a full restoration, My brother. You are enlisted back into service.
Now aren’t you glad of this? Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t put him on probation? He could have. He rightfully should have, if that is us at times. There are not stipulations here. There is no trial period here. He doesn’t say, Peter, listen, you blew it. And yes, he blew it. You royally blew it, Peter. And so we will see how you act for the next six months. And if you live up to the expectations and you have proven yourself well, then I will put you back in ministry. Jesus doesn’t say that. Jesus forgives him immediately and instates him to ministry.
Here is a great adage: You don’t work for redemption, we work and serve from redemption. Aren’t you glad of that? Jesus saves us and redeems us and forgives us. And then He says, you are fit for service.
Peter did extraordinary things for God, but not because of him but because of the One within him, right? And friends, you can do great things for God, not because of your own power, in your own strength, but because of the power and the presence and the strength of the Holy Spirit within you.
We see in this text that every person has a past. Did Peter screw up? Absolutely. But we see in this text, every person needs forgiveness. And this is not just a one time asking for forgiveness at the moment of salvation. This is a daily asking. How long should you wait after you blow it before the Lord? How long should you wait before you ask for forgiveness and repent? Immediately. So many people say, I am scared to go to God with this. Immediately. And you blow it immediately. Why would you want to live outside of the fellowship and the presence and the favor and the blessing of God? So immediately you are restored back.
But watch this. Every person has a future. Every person has a future. Look at Verse 18. “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to him, ’Follow Me.’ Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back again Him during the supper and had said, ’Lord, who is it that is going to betray You?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ’Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ’If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciples was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ’If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’”
So when Jesus says to Peter, Peter, when you were young, you used to walk where you wanted to go and you used to dress yourself and do what you wanted to do. Do you know what Jesus is saying there? Peter, there was a time in your life when you had big dreams for yourself. You had big goals and aspirations and big plans. You wanted to change the Sea of Galilee and have the most prosperous, lucrative fishing enterprise of the region. You had all these plans. But one day, all that changed. When you intersected with Me, Peter, I took away your job. I reinterpreted your family ties. I changed your fame and fortune that you thought you wanted in your mind. I changed your future and I changed your focus. Man, I even changed your name. You are not even the same guy anymore. You used to be Cephas…I mean, you used to be Peter, now you are Cephas and now you are Petros. You don’t even have the same name.
So what Jesus shows us is this. Peter, there was a time when you did your own thing in your own way, but then you met Me and I changed it all for the glory of God.
And then Jesus says, Listen to Me, those days are over for the glory of God. Because there is coming a day, Peter, when you are not going to be able to go where you want and you are not going to be able to dress yourself like you want. In fact, your arms are going to be stretched out by other people. Now what Jesus is saying here, don’t miss this, and I had an 80 something year old man tell me today, I have read my Bible my entire life. I have never heard this before. And I said, I don’t know if you are saying I am wrong or not, but I don’t know what that means, but this is what I think this means here.
When Jesus says, your arms are going to be stretched out, He is showing Peter the kind of death he is going to die. The text even says that. Oh, by the way, Jesus did this to show the kind of death he is going to die. What Jesus is saying to Peter is this, the one thing you have dreaded your entire life, crucifixion is the inevitable for you. You have to understand, Peter feared the crucifixion. He did not want to die by crucifixion. And what Jesus is doing here is something pretty extraordinary.
Dr. Russell Moore says this, “Jesus is constructing for Peter a new story line for his life. All of the elements of the story have happened before. Once again, they are fishing and having trouble. Once again, they see a figure on the shore and they don’t recognize Him. Once again, Jesus feeds them fish. Once again, Jesus takes the bread and multiplies it. Once again, Jesus does this all around a charcoal fire. The other time was when he warmed himself before denying Christ.”
And what Jesus says is this: This was your past, but this is going to be your future. Peter, you are going to come to a place where you are going to be humiliated. You are going to die on the cross. And He takes him to the cross.
You know, the cross is easy for us to talk about when we are not hearing to it, right? It is easy to sing about the Old Rugged Cross, as long as it is not our blood that is being splatted in our face. It is great to rejoice in the cross of Christ as long as it is our hands that are not being fixed to the cross with pegs. That is easy for us to say. But when it is us who has a destination to reach the cross, the cross is repulsive to us, right? You see, the cross was something Peter hated. That is the last thing he wanted for his life. That is the one thing he had nightmares about. He dreaded it. And I will prove it to you. What makes a man after spending three and a half years with Jesus, leaving everything he has to follow Jesus as his Rabbi. He knows He is the Messiah and when push comes to shove, they say, Hey, are you with this guy? Peter says, I don’t even know this guy. But you sound like you are with Him. I have never met this man before. And he gets so worked up that he starts cursing. What will drive a man to that is that he didn’t want to go to the cross and he knows that is where Jesus is headed. So much so that he cowers down in a room while Jesus is being crucified because he is fearful. And Jesus says, Peter, don’t miss this. It is inevitable. The one thing you feared the most is the very thing you are going to face.
And tradition tells us that not did Peter die by crucifixion, he died upside down because he did not want to die the same way his Lord had died.
Now, you would think, by Jesus predicting his future that Peter would be paralyzed at this point, right? You would assume that he would be crippled, that he would never be able to serve again in ministry. But it has just the opposite effect on him. You see, once Peter knows how he is going to die and that he is going to die, guess what happens? It liberates him! He gets up in Acts Chapter 2 in the face of all those Jewish leaders and he preaches Christ. He stands before the Roman government and he stands before the Jewish leaders and he says, This Christ that you crucified is both Lord and Savior. You want to take me to jail, I will go to jail.
This is a different man here. And this is the point I want to make to you. Stop worrying about the fact that you are going to die or how you are going to die or when you are going to die and start worrying about living for Christ. Friends, the dash between the day you were born and the day you will die is short for a reason. And one of the things you will never be able to do once you go there to be with the Lord is come back here and do it again.
And so Jesus tells Peter, listen, what are you fearful of? You see, as born-again Christians, we have already died. The moment you came to Christ, you died. Jesus said, if anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross and die and follow Me. Paul said, I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives within me. He says, For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Do you know what he is saying? He is saying, if you let me live, I am going to preach the gospel. But if you kill me, it doesn’t matter. It is better for me because I will go be with the Lord. I can’t lose. Do what you want! It doesn’t matter to me.
So let me ask you, what are you scared of? What are you fearful of? The battle has been won.
Now Peter is like us, you have to agree, because what Peter says is, The heat is getting hot in here, Jesus. So what he says is, Jesus, listen, you are predicting death. What about this guy who keeps trailing us? What is going to happen to him? Right? I mean, you have to appreciate Peter diverting the attention of a difficult conversation. What is going to happen to John here? You told me I am going to die by crucifixion. Is he going to be beheaded? And Jesus gets on to Peter because He says, what is it to you if he remains until I come back? Peter, YOU follow Me!
Do you know what Jesus is doing here? Jesus is saying, Peter, don’t get caught up in the comparison game. Now if we are not careful as New Testament born-again believers, we can get caught up in that, too. I used to do this as a kid. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t make the best grades. And when I would get a test back from the teacher, before I left the classroom, I would make sure to poll every student in the class until I found someone with a lower grade than I had. I don’t know if you did that, but that is what I did. And the reason I did that was, I needed ammunition for Bob and Margaret when I went home. And so I would go home and Mom would say, Robby, what did you get on your test? I would say, Mom, an F plus. She would say, an F plus. I would say, well, I got a 68. She would say, a 68! And I would say, but Mom…and I would do this in the best, most convincing voice a 12 year old could muster, Mom, Jason Broome got a 63. I got 5 points better than him! And my Mom would look at me and she would say, Robby, I don’t care what Jason Broome got. He is not my son. You are and I care about you and you should, too.
That is what Jesus is in essence saying here. Don’t get caught up in the comparison game, Peter. You focus on Me!
Now if we are not careful, this can happen to us, right? Because we can start looking around town and say, God, why is their church bigger than ours? Why is his ministry larger than mine? Why is his business more successful than mine? Why does he have a better job than I do? Why are their kids always healthy and mine are not? Why do they have a nicer car or a nicer house? Why is he a better leader than me? Don’t miss this. There will always be a better leader in this world than you. There will always be a better salesman, a better businessman, a more spiritual person than you, which is why Jesus said, Don’t worry about them, YOU follow Me! You see, when you get caught up in the comparison game, guess what? You never win.
Jesus says your focus has to be laser focused on Me. And I think what Jesus is doing here is this: Jesus is redesigning Peter’s life by bringing him back to a place of familiarity. Now why would He do that? Here is why. He brings Peter back in essence to the same place He called him. You see, Jesus called Peter on the seashore when he had just come in from a long night at sea. And once again, we find ourselves at the same place. And would you believe, Jesus tells Peter…don’t miss this…the same phrase He uses when He called him. Peter, come follow Me. He says it twice. Don’t worry about John. Come follow Me.
Now you have to imagine that Peter would have started to remember all the things that happened in the ministry. This is one of the last encounters with Jesus before He leaves forever. And I imagine Peter standing on the seashore that day, would have gazed into the mountains and remembered what it was like to hear Jesus preach that amazing message, the Sermon on the Mount. And if he was quiet long enough, he probably could have heard it. And then he looked across that sea and he started to feel that wind blow against his face and he remembered the day that Jesus, as they were in the midst of a raging storm, wake up from a nap and silence the waves and the wind and the waters with His voice.
He looked across the plain and he saw that hill that Jesus divided the puffy bread and He multiplied the fish. He can almost still taste the saltiness probably. As Peter looked out to the water, he remembered the day when he stepped over the bow of the boat and faith and the water solidified under his feet.
Do you know what Jesus is doing here for Peter? He is reminding him of his calling. He is saying, Peter, I want to take you back to where it all began. Remember, I called you. And the calling is not irrevocable. Do you know, as Christians, it is good for us to go back to the day Jesus called us. Do you remember that day? Do you? The day He called you, the day God intersected your life. The day He said, Listen, I know you had big plans for your life, but I have got bigger plans for your life and we are going to do things that are going to last for eternity, not temporally. Do you remember the day He called you into ministry? I know what you are saying, I am not on a pastoral staff. Listen to me, we are all in ministry. The saints are equipped for the work of ministry. Remember the day He set you apart for service?
You see, I think what Jesus is saying to Peter is simply this. Peter, listen. You are going to die. In fact, all of us are going to die. But you need to remember, Peter, that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you shall fear no evil. Why? Because I am with you. Peter, when your ministry gets tough and it will, I am with you. When life starts to fall apart unexplainably, I am with you. When you business files bankruptcy because things went awry, I am with you. When your spouse dies unexpectedly, listen to me, I am with you. When your children come down with an illness prematurely, I am with you.
Which is why I think the hymnist had it right, Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full into His wonderful face. And then the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.