AGCC Sun. a.m. 11/3/1996
TEXT: John 21:15-19; 1:42; Matt.
INTRO: Two things that can
cripple us as believers are (1. failure and (2. insignificance. If we feel we
have lost our value or
have little value we will stay unproductive in the
kingdom of God. Failure and a sense of insignificance must be dealt with to move
forward with God.
God is desirous to heal us from failure, and to emphasize our significance, we
just need to respond!
ILLUS: Out in Wyoming's ranching country a severe snowstorm hit
the area the Sunday before Christmas. Although the minister felt certain that
nobody was going to show up for his church service because of the weather, he
opened up the church just in case someone might appear. Sure enough, through the
cold and snow, a weather-beaten cowboy appeared in the doorway of the church.
The minister did not recognize the man as one of his parishioners, however he
invited him in and the cowboy took a seat near the back of the church. After a
wait of 20 minutes, it became apparent to the minister that this cowboy was
going to be the only person to attend his church that day. Approaching the man,
the minister asked him if he was expecting a full service. "I've been a cowboy
out in this part of the country all my life," the fellow answered. "And all
winter long I feed 500 cows every day. And come rain or shine, sleet or snow --
whether one comes or all 500 come -- I feed them every day." Duly inspired, the
minister launched into a sermon that lasted the better part of an hour and a
half. At the conclusion, the minister walked over to the cowboy and asked him
how he enjoyed the service. "Like I said before," the cowboy answered, "I've
been feeding 500 cows every day all my life. And come rain or shine, sleet or
snow -- whether one comes or all 500 come -- I feed them every day. But if only
one cow comes, I don't dump the whole feed load."
Peter had failed the Lord in a big way...and now he felt very insignificant...but
Jesus has a question for Peter, a question that was intended to bring healing
to Peter's failure, and also to minister to his sense of insignificance. Peter
could not move on for Christ until the failure was dealt with in his life...
neither can we if we don't deal with the failures in our life!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that Christ calls us back to love Him when we
fail. The question is never whether God loves us, it is always whether we love
Him enough to deal with the failures in our life!
I. BRAGGART TO BROKEN! Matt. 26:33; John 1:42;
A. Failure! Matt. 26:33; John 1:42; 21:15
1. Peter's failure in denying Christ 3 times had its foundation long before that
night...it goes back several days earlier when he had bragged! (Matt. 26:33)
a. bragging usually doesn't create strength, it is usually a sign of weakness!
b. Bragging usually creates arguments, not friendships!... like the earlier
night where the disciples had been arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest and would sit on the right and left of Jesus!
c. Of course these things don't happen today in the Church, do they!!!?
2. Bragging often distorts the truth, or gives false impressions...and these
can get us into trouble!
ILLUS: Three small boys were bragging about their dads. The first boy said: "My dad writes a few short lines on paper, calls it a poem, sends away, and gets ten dollars for it."
"My dad," said the second, "makes dots on paper, calls it a song, sends it away, and gets twenty-five dollars for it."
"That's nothing," declared the third boy. "My
father writes a sermon on a sheet of paper, gets up in the pulpit and reads it,
and it takes four men to bring in the money!"
3. Note too that in John 1:42 Jesus had renamed Simon son of John "Simon Peter"...the name "PETER" meaning a "ROCK".
a. Note too here how Jesus now addresses the failed man: "Simon son of John"... not "Peter"!
b. Peter had failed to be the "rock"...but Jesus was about to turn him back
into one again!
4. This is really the point of Jesus' question these 3 times: "DO YOU LOVE ME?"
a. You will note that Jesus asks this 3 times...equal to the number of times Peter had disowned Jesus earlier!
b. Jesus was not trying to make Peter feel bad, He was giving Peter an
opportunity to reaffirm what he had denied, an equal number of times!
c. Peter needed this to move from failure to faithfulness again!
d. It was also intended to help Peter feel significant again...failure had
no doubt stripped him of this!
5. Hence with each affirmation of Peter's love, Jesus calls him back to
significant ministry again!...Peter is still valued by Jesus, enough to trust
him with ministry again!
B. Frustrated! 21:15-17
1. Peter seems unaware of what Jesus is doing, his own sense of failure made
it difficult to see that Jesus was trying to heal him, instead, all he felt was
frustrated that Jesus didn't believe in his love!
a. All the while however he doesn't raise the issue of his own failure!
b. By not talking about it he tries to not think about it...but this is not
2. so often we get ourselves into trouble when we avoid what we are doing and
just keep neglecting dealing with our failures!
ILLUS: The pastor went to call on one of the elderly widows of the church. While visiting with her, he noticed a bowl of shelled peanuts on the coffee table. During the conversation he began nibbling on them and soon the bowl was empty. He then apologized to the woman for eating all of her peanuts.
She replied, "That's OK, Reverend. It's no
bother. You see, three weeks ago I had all my teeth pulled. Since that time,
I've just been sucking the chocolate off the peanuts and putting them in that
3. Peter's own guilt and shame kept him from appreciating what Jesus was
trying to do...which was to undo the damage of his failure and get him back
into significant ministry again!
a. We cannot be effective for God if our love for God is not strong!
b. Power in ministry comes from the personal relationship with Christ we
have! If this is unsettled, so our ministry will be unsettled!
4. Jesus' repair program for Peter was simple:
a. Relationship with Christ healed!
b. Reaffirm what you had denied
c. Recommision to ministry that was lost
d. Restore Peter as the "rock"...no long call him Simon son of John!
5. In many ways, Jesus was rebuilding the foundation to Peter's life and
ministry after a major failure!...by going back to the beginning!
II. BACK TO BEGINNING! Matt. 4:19; John
A. Faithfulness! 21:18-19a
1. As long as Peter sat musing over his own failure and not dealing with it he
could not see the needs of ministry!
a. guilt and shame turn us inward...we feel sorry for ourselves and our
attention turns to self
b. Ironically, this could be good if it forced us to see that we need to deal
with the issue that is causing our shame and guilt, but if all we do is
feel sorry for ourselves, we will miss the needs of others!
2. Peter was not thinking about the millions of lost, the disciples were rather
withdrawn and to themselves until after Pentecost!
a. Jesus could not leave them in this state!
b. They could not afford to dwell on their own needs all the time, it was
time to heal from their hurts and failures, to reaffirm their love for
Christ and then to get busy and "FEED MY LAMBS, FEED MY SHEEP"...
3. Too often the Church is so wrapped up in their own hurts that they fail
to see the ministry that is needed!
ILLUS: Once upon a time, there was a church staff looking for teachers for children and preschoolers and youth.
And some adults said, "I don't want to leave the sweet fellowship and study in my adult class." (But the drug pusher on the street said, "Not even the threat of jail will keep me from working with your children.")
And some adults said, "I could never give the time required to plan and go to teachers' meetings." (But the pusher, the porno book dealer, and the movie producer said, "We'll stay open whatever hours are necessary everyday to win the minds of the kids.")
And some adults said, "I'm unsuited, untrained, unable to work with children, preschoolers or youth. (But the movie producer said, "We'll study, survey, spend millions to produce whatever turns kids on.")
So, the adults stayed in their classes and enjoyed the sweet fellowship and absorbed the good Bible Study, and could go out of town often on the weekend and were available to do whatever was good to do on Wednesday or Sunday nights instead of teachers' meetings.
And when Sunday came, the children came to
their classes and no one was there except the church staff going from one room
to another trying to assure them that someone would surely come to teach them
some Sunday soon. But no one ever came, and the young children soon quit coming
because they had gone to listen to others who did care about the things they did
and what went into their minds....
4. Jesus knew that before Pentecost, the failure of Peter's had to be dealt with!
a. Unresolved issues can cripple our heart, which can cripple our ministry!
b. To heal, Christ simply appeals to Peter's willingness to love Him again!
c. The concern is not God's love for Peter, it is Peter's love for God!
5. Yes Peter had failed, but he didn't have to stay a failure!
ILLUS: -- Henry Ford, automaker, who failed and went broke five
times before finally succeeding. Selling Magazine, 1995, p. 65.
6. Christ's call for Peter's faithfulness in ministry is based on Peter's confession of love for Christ!
a. no other motivation for ministry will work!
b. guilt never made a good ministry, but love for God will move the world!
7. Peter's hurt over Jesus 3 times questioning him no doubt stemmed from the memory of his 3 denials only days earlier...but that was just the point...to have him 3 times affirm what he had 3 times denied before...
a. this was much more for Peter's sake than for Christ's sake!
b. Jesus wanted to remove the guilt and shame for Peter...this was the
c. From these new affirmations Peter is called back into ministry...and after his 3 affirmations he is again called "PETER", the "ROCK"!
8. Peter finds restoration and significance again free from guilt and shame!
9. where there had been unfaithfulness, faithfulness would now flow
B. Forever! 21:19b; Matt 4:19
1. You will note that Jesus' final words to Peter here are the same first words
that Jesus spoke to him in Matt. 4:19!
a. "Follow me"!
b. Christ's call to Peter at the end of life is the same as that call was at the
beginning of his new life...to simply "FOLLOW CHRIST"!
2. Jesus tells Peter that the rest of his life will be spent following Christ, right
up until the end!
a. Peter will remain faithful to the end!
b. Peter's failure will not return
c. Peter's love will be forever!
3. No doubt Peter learned a valuable lesson from this failure, and in learning it
he would not repeat it.
4. Failures can be helpful if we learn from them...in this sense they can still
have a positive effect on our lives...but only if we don't repeat them,
but learn from them!
ILLUS: Thomas Edison was once experimenting in search of a natural rubber. In his search he had 50,000 failures. His assistant said, "Mr. Edison, we have made 50,000 experiments, and we have no results." He was ready to quit. He viewed failure outwardly.
Edison replied, "Results! We have had wonderful
results. We now know 50,000 things which won't work." Thomas Edison knew that
there was only one thing that was failure, and that was quitting. -- John
Maxwell, Be All You Can Be (Victor, 1987), p. 136.
5. Where are you today?
a. Are you hiding from a failure in your life?
b. Are you feeling insignificant because of a failure?
c. Are you hurting every time you're in the presence of God over a failure
you haven't really dealt with, so you're withdrawn and in self-pity?
d. Christ's love to you is not the question, Jesus asks us "DO YOU LOVE
e. If we can answer yes...we can be healed and find ministry again that
comes from a joyful heart and not a guilty heart!
6. Jesus is asking you ... and me, "DO YOU LOVE ME?"...what's your
CONCLUSION: How do we deal with failure in our lives? Many will hide away in shame, some will resort to anger, others will pretend to be undaunted as though they are not hurt or disappointed. How does Jesus handle people who have failed? He seeks them out, and coaxes us back to our love for Him! Jesus knows that when we can express our love for Him again, we can love and forgives ourselves too...and be able to minister to others!