Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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22. From Failure to Fellowship – Part 3

John 21:15-22

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

Lastly we are called to:

  1. Follow Faithfully

Verse 18 prophetically points to how Peter was going to die: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”Many commentators believe that the phrase, “you will stretch out your hands” is a reference to crucifixion. Tradition tells us that Peter was crucified with his hands stretched out on a cross. Verse 19 tells us that in his death Peter would “glorify God.” We are to follow no matter what happens and the command, “follow me” in verse 19 is a present imperative, which means “keep on following me.” Even knowing how he was going to die, Peter was called to faithfully follow Christ. What about you are you going to be a fair-weather fan or a faithful follower? Fans follow based on feelings, but followers make it about faith. Peter had been following his feelings because he was focused on his failure instead of Jesus faithfulness. The words follow me are the same words Jesus used when He called Peter the first time in Matthew 4:19-20. Are you going to focus on your feelings and follow your failures only to repeat them over and over or follow the Father? Jesus is calling us to leave our failures behind and follow Him. But notice Peters response, he immediately wants to know about John. We like to focus on what others are doing, don’t we? I love the answer Jesus gave in John 21:22: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Our responsibility is to make Jesus #1 in our lives, and not get distracted by what others are or are not doing. Our job is not to compare and contrast ourselves with others but to follow Christ. We always end up with a mess when we meddle in matters that don’t concern us. Our job is to be obedient to what God has already revealed. Jesus made it clear to Peter what he had called Him to do and yet look how quickly Peter got sidetracked. How much like Peter are we, he had been restored and recommissioned, and yet rather than getting busy with Gods business he got busy being a busybody. Right on the heels of Peters recommissioning Jesus is having to redirect him. While Peter is no longer focused on his failures now he is focused on others. You will never faithfully follow if you are not focused on Jesus. When you stop focusing on Jesus you falter and fall, and you end up right back at failure.  But were we fail God is faithful. You see its all really the gift of His grace. One of my favorite verse in this passage is verse 10 when Jesus says, “Bring some of the fish you have caught.”Jesus already had some fish frying but He invites the disciples to share what they have. He asked them to bring the fish they have caught but the disciples knew that they didn’t do anything to catch the fish, it was the Lord that had loaded up their nets. He calls us to serve and to share what we have but it’s not really ours that we are giving it’s God’s grace, the question is will we serve or be selfish? Jesus calls us to partner with Him and participate in the blessings. He longs to rebuild what is broken and the emphasis of this passage is not on the fish; it’s on the fishermen. They needed to be restored and the only way that was going to happen was through spending time with Jesus. Jesus invites us to come in our brokenness and failure and have breakfast on the beach. It’s in the presence of His forgiveness that our failures fade. Are you going to respond to God’s grace that calls you to come and deal with those areas of your life that limit and lead you to failure or ignore the Father and keep follow your feelings? This is an invitation to come and commune with Christ instead of continuing in your mess.