Thursday, May 01, 2008

Peter: Failure and Survivor
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Peter: Failure and Survivor1

Read: John 21:15-19

Intro.: This is the last recorded meeting between Peter and Jesus in the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life.

  1. But it took a great deal of interaction between Peter and Jesus to get here.

  2. In the next few week we will be walking through the books of I and II Peter.

  3. But before we do, I want to explore a bit of Peter's life

T.S. During the next few minutes I want to look at six events in the life of Peter that will help us to understand his relationship to Jesus Christ.

  1. Peter: Called

(Ill.) As I went through my counseling training, I was surprised to learn that the average person goes through five career changes in their lives. Peter was about to go through just such a change.

    1. Peter was, first of all a fisherman. Not a casual weekend or vacation fisherman. But a genuine, career minded, fisherman.

    2. And he had no idea that his life was going to take a major change in direction. In fact, I think if we were to ask him if he would consider leaving fishing, Peter's answer would have been, “No way.”

    3. Yet, in John 1:10, Andrew asks Peter to meet Jesus. Then in Matthew 4 we are witnesses to Jesus' personal call to Peter - “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

    4. Jesus deals with us as we are able to cope with him. When Peter first met Jesus in John 1, he was not ready to drop everything and follow Him. But in Matthew 4 we see that Peter is ready to put it all aside, everything that he knew.

(Appl.) I never claim to know what God is asking of you. When you hear God speak, it may not be expected (it wasn't for Peter), but you are ready to do what He is asking.

  1. Peter: Scared

    1. But just being obedient and following Jesus does not mean that all our problems are gone.

    2. In fact I expect that we would have all reacted like Peter when he sees Jesus walking on the water - But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

      Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

(Ill.) God has used fear to get people's attention. Martin Luther chose to enter the ranks of the clergy after being struck by lightning. Jens Haven was one of the first missionaries to Labrador in Northeastern Canada - the electricity of a lightning string knocked him senseless to the ground. As soon as he recovered, he got upon his knees and cried to God for mercy and for conversion; and, from that day, was a new man, soon after devoting his life to mission work among the Moravians.2

    1. I expect that Peter's experience on the Sea of Galilee that evening had a last effect as well.

(Appl.) Our emotions impact our Christian life – they can, like in the case of Peter, Luther, and Haven, draw us closer to God. We can also allow them to drive us away from God. How do your emotions impact your relation to God.

  1. Peter: Insightful

    1. Peter may have been emotional, but he was also insightful.

    2. It was Peter who first recognized Jesus as the Son of God. You remember – Jesus is standing around with His disciples and he first asks who people say He is. Then He asks the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” And it is Peter who replies, “You are the Christ” (the Messiah) “the Son of the Living God.”

    3. Peter always was quick – sometimes too quick – but this time he got it right.

(Ill.) Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.”3 It was true in Peter's case.

(Appl.) We don't worship the name, we don't worship the stories, we don't worship the feelings. We worship the person of Jesus Christ – the Son of the Living God.

    1. Peter may have been the first to understand it – but it is just as true for us.

  1. Peter: Priviledged

    1. After Peter's insight, Jesus continued to keep a watchful eye over Peter.

    2. We find Jesus on a mountain top with Peter, James, and John. They were not expecting anything, but God had a surprise for them.

    3. Read Luke 9:28-36

      WOW Jesus' clothes looked like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah appeared, and God spoke. I would have been an amazing sight. And perhaps, like the apostles, we would like to build a memorial for the event.

(Ill.) You know those V8 commercials where the character gets bonked on the head – that is sort of what happens to the dicsiples.

    1. This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” - BONK

(Appl.) Every so often God catches us by surprise – he gives us something, he makes us aware of something, he shows us soemthing, that helps us to better understand Him.

  1. Peter: Unfaithful

    1. Peter is doing well – I wish we could leave him there – but there is more to the story.

    2. Jesus is on the cross – and Peter really blows it.

    3. Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus. He had been called by Jesus to follow Him. He knew that he was the Son of the Living God. He was there at the transfiguration. He did know Him.

    4. But Peter denied it. Not once, not twice, but three times.

    5. And how does God respond? You know what would happen if you betrayed your boss? It wouldn't be pleasant.

    6. And Peter knows it – when that cock crows, he knows it.

  2. Peter: Used

    1. But what Peter knows – is not what God knows. Here is a man who has failed miserably. Any of the remaining 10 apostles could have replaced him.

    2. But God was not so quick to give up on Peter. The final scene we have of Peter in the four gospels is Jesus on the shore with Peter.

    3. At the first glance, the conversation appears strange.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Feed my sheep. 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.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, Follow me!”

    1. Do you remember the first command given to Peter, “Follow me.” Nothing has changed. Regardless of how long we have walked with Jesus, our call is the same. To follow Jesus.

    2. Are you willing to do it today? Are you willing to follow Jesus?


1Though the sermon is my own, the outline was suggested by a message originally delivered by D L Moody. It is found in an essay published in Moody, D. L., Talmage, T. De W., Parger, Joseph, J. (2007). Bible Characters. WORDsearch, Corp.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Oliver Wendell Holmes quoted in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (532). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

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