Monthly Archives: June 2014
I saw this posted by Thabiti Anyabwile on TGC. Interesting twist and use of culturally relevant terms – much in the same way Geoff Moore did in Evolution…Redefined. This is good…
Title: Comfort in Affliction
Text: 2 Corinthians 1.3-11
CIT: God comforts us in our times of affliction in order that we might comfort those who are afflicted.
CIS: God comforts us in our times of affliction in order that we might comfort those who are afflicted.
Introduction: Dietrich Bonheoffer by Eric Metaxes: P. 514-515;
It had been six years since Best had witnessed Bonheoffer in prison encouraging and exhorting the cellmate and other inmates being held prisoner. I guess he reflected back to that time, in which the impression Bonheoffer made was still very real. Through the story of Eric Metaxes, we see God comforted Bonheoffer in his affliction and suffering, And, Bonheoffer himself was encouragement and comfort to those who were in prison witnessing his life. I find it amazing to see how God comforts his people by using other people.
This past week I was visiting with Melodese and told her I was preaching on 2 Corinthians. I told her I was trying to figure out the theme for this letter. She suggested comfort. And rightfully so. When you read 2 Corinthians from the very beginning, comfort is a theme that flows throughout the entire letter. No more so than in these opening verses.
Case in point: this word appears 10’s in v 3-7; It appears 30’s in the NT – that’s a full 1/3 of the time it appears in only 5 verses!
Transition: What we will see throughout this letter is that Paul is explaining to the Corinthians as to why he has suffered so much. And his point is that his suffering is evidence of God’s call upon his life as an Apostle, which is what he stated in the greeting back in v 1.
Now, I’ve divided this passage (3-11) into four parts. What I’m hoping you’ll see, what I believe Paul is telling the Corinthians and us, is:
- The source of our comfort in affliction
- The purpose in our affliction, helping us find comfort
- The reality of God at work in our affliction
- And the example of Paul’s life in affliction
Transition: let’s begin with verses 3-4 where we find the source of our comfort in affliction.
1. The Source of our Comfort in Affliction (1.3-4a)
exp.: Typical of Paul, he begins his doxology following his greetings and salutation. Rd v 3; Three statements about God that Paul makes:
- In spite of our suffering and affliction, God still deserves our reverence and worship. In the good times and bad, when rains and when the sun shines, God is still God. For me, that’s the hardest time to present a doxology! Ill.: When I broke my collarbone – God, I feel like you’re picking on me! 2nd, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of this before, but God’s Character is displayed through our suffering. Look at his goodness toward us in our suffering:
- Father of Mercies; I’m reminded of Hebrews 4.16 where AH records: 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Last week I read in Lamentations 3.22f: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Father of mercies and 3rdly, Paul addresses God as…
- God of all comfort: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – who is the source of comfort in our affliction…
app.: What a great attitude to keep in our times of affliction: Blessed be God! the source of comfort in our affliction. 2nd, we see…
2. The Purpose in our Affliction (1.4)
exp.: Abraham Lincoln: The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. Mark Lowry says his favorite verse is and it came to pass…. In other words, it didn’t come to stay! But while it’s here, Paul wants you to know that there is purpose in suffering. Rd v 4a; so that we may be able; lit.: into the power of us; ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει;
- your suffering empowers you; it empowers you to comfort others in their suffering. Listen, You can’t share what you don’t have! You can’t meet people at their need if you’ve never needed like that. Those who are most merciful are those who’ve needed great mercy. Let that sink in for a moment:
Ask yourself: where in life have I suffered most? That is probably a ministry you now have. Like it or not, it qualifies you to serve in a way that those of us who haven’t suffered like that can. It isn’t saying we don’t, but rather that you can.
Transition: the source, the purpose and 3rdly,
3. The Reality of God at work in our Comfort and Affliction (1.5-7)
exp.: Affliction is a part of life; Jesus promised us this; he uses this very same word in John 16.33: 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Paul clarified this thought that it will be a part of the Christ life in 1 Thessalonians 3.3. Let me read 3.1-4.
3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
I think this would be a good time to define the word affliction and suffering found here in this passage and in our text today. Context: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?
There are two different words in the Greek and they mean the same thing (I’ve underlined them in the previous text): θλι̂ψις and θλίβω. Both words mean to press. However, θλι̂ψις means to be pressed and θλίβω means to do the pressing. So in this text of 1 Thessalonians Paul is saying he is being pressed and that someone else is doing the pressing – that he is suffering and that he is suffering at the hands of others. Look back at our text in 2 Corinthians 1.4 and 1.6 where we can see the two words being used.
So, the 1st word is affliction. In the Greek, two separate words. There is a 2nd word: suffering. In the Greek, it is also two separate words. it’s found in v. 5-6; Suffer. There are so many ways to suffer. Suffering:
- A baby sitting in a diaper for hours with a rash
- A child starving without food or water
- A man caught in a fire
- A woman abandoned by her husband
- A cancer patient wracked by pain and torment
- A pastor who is thrown from his bike and breaks his collarbone
ill.: that’s right, by definition, I have suffered from my bike accident; all of these examples listed are considered suffering by definition; When I broke my collarbone, I sat down on the trail and leaned against a nearby trail – I felt at the moment and have felt a bit of suffering from that moment through even this moment. That is what this word means, but understand the context of this passage. The suffering in v 5-6 is suffering that comes about by being pressed, afflicted. Maybe, as you consider spiritual warfare – my accident might fit that definition. But listen to me: Paul is not referring to (see list above); that is NOT what Paul is saying in this verse. That is not what Jesus is saying in John 16.33. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” In these two texts we’ve looked at this morning, the context is suffering that comes about through persecution.
ill.: At the end of a two-month hospital stay, Iranian authorities severely beat American pastor Saeed Abedini before returning him to prison. Abedini, a U.S. citizen who turned 34 on May 7, was admitted to the hospital in March for internal bleeding and other injuries related to his imprisonment. Although he received little treatment, his family was allowed to visit and bring him meals. Iran detained Abedini in 2012 when he was in the country to work on a government-approved orphanage. Abedini’s sudden return to prison came days after the United States and Iran failed to make progress in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
Now with this statement of tribulation in the world, Jesus calls us to have peace. Why? Because He has overcome the world; Here in 2 Corinthians we learn a simple principle on how to have peace in affliction: God comforts us in affliction;
- In v 5, Christ suffered tremendously and through his suffering, we share in comfort through salvation.
- In v 6a, Paul and those with him suffer in bringing the Gospel to the Corinthians, and the Corinthian church shares in comfort.
- In v 6b, affliction comes to the Corinthians and they share also in comfort.
Transition: to make all of this clear, Paul illustrates this through his own life in …
4. The Example of our Comfort in Affliction (1.8-11)
exp.: in these verses, Paul says: We suffered, even near to death; But, God allowed it so that we might rely on Him – and look what He has done:
- He delivered where we could not; we were too weak.
- He has given us hope to rely on him in the future; He is faithful.
- He is to be praised for our deliverance; He is worthy of our thanksgiving and blessings.
I love that he comes full circle in the realm of praise. You notice that?
app.: I wish I had more time to delve into this passage, but I think it best to encourage you to study this matter on your own. I had originally planned to present verses 8-11 in full; However, during the preparation of this message I felt it was too broad and, at first, decided to preach on verses 8-11 next week. But I can’t do that now. I realize there just isn’t enough time for me to cover everything. So, Let me leave this in your hands. Maybe you’ve been looking for a good study, Or maybe you would like to invite a couple of friends over and read the passage together. Whatever the case, I’ll leave this study in your hands. See if you can go back to ask chapter 18 and see where Paul suffered and was persecuted. Outline on the map his steps and retrace them.
Conclusion: Remember the 3 questions: What does the passage say? What does the passage mean? What does the passage mean to me? Affliction, suffering, struggle.
This passage got me to thinking: What does struggle produce in me? Do people come to Christ more through my prosperity or through my anguish? And what’s more, do I grow more through my struggles than I ever do through times of peace and prosperity?
After more reflection, I was struck by how I’ve been so un-god like toward my kids. Here on Father’s Day – as a parent, in reflecting on the past, I’ve not wanted to watch my kids struggle, let alone suffer. I protected them and intervened in such a way that I didn’t let them suffer when it would have been good for them. I think it would have taught them life principles that they wouldn’t learn otherwise. Like a bird being hatched – the struggle is actually helping…
Question for Reflection:
- Fathers, are you letting your kids suffer at times that are good for them? I think this calls for wisdom. I’m not advocating inflicting anything on your kids, but rather, watch them and don’t intervene too soon. Let them work out their problems. Again, this calls for wisdom. I think intervention at the right time can teach our children how to seek the Father during times of duress.
- How much am I willing to suffer so that others might come to know Christ? Not that I would ever want to inflict suffering upon myself, sometimes, taking Christ to the Nations calls for suffering.
- Do I have an attitude of Gratitude offering praise to God who comforts me in my affliction?
- Do I remember in prayer those who are suffering for Christ? Randy told me while we were in China, that those in prison and suffering persecution don’t pray to be released.
- What ministry has God given you through your suffering? Are you doing that ministry? I wonder if we to often sit down and feel sorry for ourselves (a pity party) and we don’t get busy using the experience for God’s glory?
- Invitation to come to Christ and be comforted through his sufferings. Sometimes, I think God uses suffering and struggle to draw us to him. Maybe you’re there right now…
This system is a great way to read through Scripture. I’ve used it before and highly recommend it. I’ve read two chapters in the two longer sections and can read through Scripture in roughly 150 days…
So excited about this new arm of Venture, which will help students with learning differences. Thanks Wendy and Jamie for all you do…
Alice Yoo posted this to her blog site. I thought I’d share some of the beauty… You can see the rest of her photos at http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/Kilian-Schonberger-blue-forest
Title: Content, but Concerned
Text: 2 Corinthians 1.1-2
CIT: The typical greeting and salutations of a letter.
CIS: to give a basic overview of this letter and challenge the listener to gain a better understanding up Paul.
Introduction: You see I’ve chosen the title, Content, but Concerned, for my first sermon series in 2nd Corinthians. This is Paul’s fourth known letter to the Corinthians. This letter appears to be written with the goal of explaining why he did not come to them as he had originally planned. Basically, in chapters 1-7, Paul explains why he has been unable to come to Corinth. In chapters 8-9, he talks to them about the collection in which they had promised to take part. And in the final section he talks to them about what he plans to do when he gets there. Throughout his letter, Paul appears to be content with his ministry and confident in his service, but concerned with their behavior. Let me take a moment to show you how I plan to divide this book into four different sermon series:
- Contentment (1-2)
- Confidence (3-7)
- Collection (8-9)
- Concerns (10-13)
Now, this might be an oversimplification of how this book’s parts are to be subdivided. For now, It is a simple way for us to begin making our way through this letter and maybe understanding Paul’s intentions for the Corinthian church. A further breakdown will look like this:
Here is a more detailed outlined:
- Content in his leadership 1.1-12
- Content in his plan 1.12-2.4
- Content in his decision 2.5-11
- Content with God’s direction 2.12-17
- Confidence in his Ministry 3.1-18
- Confidence in the Message 4.1-18
- Confidence in the future 5.1-10
- Confidence in the Gospel 5.11-21
- Confidence in affliction 6.1-13-7.1
- Confidence in grief and sorrow 7.2-16
- Giving generously 8
- Confidence in their completion 9
- Concern for their spirituality 10
- Concern for their leadership 11.1-23
- Paul’s suffering 11.22-33
- Paul’s boasting 12.1-11
- Concern for their deception 12.11
- Final warnings 13
Transition: let’s begin our study with a brief history lesson.
1. A brief history
exp.: rd 1.1-2; Corinth was a popular and powerful Commerce from about 600 BC until 146 BC, when the Romans destroyed her. The emperor had her rebuilt in 42 BC, and made her a powerful political pawn. She became the most popular political city outside of Rome and Alexandria. Her location was key. She had 2 ports and was strategically located for shipping and commerce. So you see, when Paul journeyed into Corinth for the first time he came to a beautiful city that wasn’t very old – 80 years old. Tyler is older than that!
Paul had a deep affection for the people of Corinth. While on his second missionary journey, and with the help of Priscilla and Aquila, and his faithful disciples Timothy and Silas, he planted and established that church in that city. He had lived there for over 18 months and stood toe-to-toe with the Jews who hated him. After Paul left Corinth, he traveled to Ephesus, and then went on down to Jerusalem. You can read about this and Acts 18.
Shortly after Paul returned to Antioch, Apollos arrived on the scene in Corinth. With the aid of Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos was baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Apollos was an incredible orator. His style of preaching and teaching wowed the Corinthians. I believe Apollos was from Alexandria, and so he probably fit in well with the Corinthians. It appears that Apollo’s did a great job in following up Paul’s work. And Paul clarifies Apollos’ job when dealing with division in the church in 1 Corinthians. He says: I planted, Apollo’s watered, but God gave the growth (3.5).
Chronologically, sometime after Paul left and traveled home, then back to Ephesus that he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. We don’t have this letter, but we know of its existence because of 1 Corinthians 5.9: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–. To be honest, not having this letter around anymore is probably a blessing in disguise. There were misconceptions and misunderstandings from this letter that caused Paul to write his second letter, 1st Corinthians.
Now after Paul’s first letter was written, he then received a letter from the Corinthian church with some of their concerns. It appears Paul’s first letter created more questions and concerns then it brought clarification. A second letter was then composed by Paul, which you know as 1st Corinthians. The purpose of this second letter was to clear up any miscommunication and confusion is first letter brought. From the second letter we understand the situation in Corinth to be very serious. So serious, that Paul sent Timothy to deal with the problems even before he sendt his second letter.
At some point after Paul sends his second letter, he makes a short, quick visit to Corinth. This is visit #2. It appears that he was unable to accomplish very much in that short period of time. It is possible that this visit was so short because it was so unpleasant and painful. And so the situation grew worse. The truth is, we don’t know the exact problem Corinth faced. I’m sure there were multiple problems. To be sure it had something to do with the denial of Paul’s authority as an apostle. The only reason we know about this visit is because it is mentioned in 2nd Corinthians when Paul says he’s now ready to pay a third visit to the Corinthians (12.14; 13.1) and, because he refers to a ‘painful’ visit.
After his painful visit, Paul writes a third letter, known as the ‘severe’ letter and it is in reference to this ‘painful’ visit. Whatever problems Paul experienced on this second, painful visit, he must have been very forceful and forthright in this third, severe letter. He must’ve really let the Corinthians have it! Finally, Paul writes his 4th letter, 2nd Corinthians, which is the letter we’ll be studying. So, here is a basic outline of their history.
- Visit #1: The Church is Planted
o The Previous Letter (The 1st Letter): Offering them guidance
- The Corinthian congregation sends a letter of response with questions and concerns.
- Timothy is dispatched to deal with the situation.
o 1st Corinthians (The 2nd Letter)
- Visit #2 – The Painful Visit – Paul leaves Ephesus and makes a quick attempt to correct matters, but leaves abruptly.
o The Severe Letter (The 3rd Letter)
- A Visit with Titus assuring Paul that all was well and good in Corinth (2.12-17; 7.6-7)
o 2nd Corinthians (The 4th Letter)
- Visit # 3 – He leaves Ephesus and travels the interior to Corinth for his 3rd and final visit.
Maps: 1, 2, & 3
Transition: So, this is a very short and abbreviated history. For fun, let’s now take a brief glimpse of the letter.
2. A Brief Glimpse (27-29)
exp.: there are some wonderful verses in 2 Corinthians. Some you will recognize, and maybe some you’ll say, “I didn’t know that verse was found here!” I’ve highlighted a few for you to see some context to the letter, and some concerns Paul had, and popular verses – maybe you didn’t know came from 2 Corinthians.
1.3-4: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2.3-4: 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
3.5: Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.
4.17, 18: For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
5.10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
5.17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
5.21: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6.2-3: Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
6.14-16:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;
8.9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
9.6-8: 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
10.4: 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
11.28: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
12.7-9: 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Transition: I think this last verse hits upon a theme that flows throughout 2nd Corinthians: suffering.
3. The Letter’s Theme: (17.1c)
exp.: He’s writing to explain why he hasn’t made his way there and to tell them of what to expect when he finally gets there. But there is more here: they want to know why he suffers and struggles so much. I mean, if you really are called of God, then:
- Why hasn’t God made things easier for you?
- Why aren’t you eloquent, like the other super apostles we’ve heard from?
- Why don’t you have money and your wife with you?
- Why are you always arrested and imprisoned, beaten and mistreated? These other super-apostles don’t suffer like you?
- Why does your ministry reflect a lackluster appearance compared with the others?
- Most preachers take money for their services, what is your motivation to not receive payment, and to work so hard at tent-making to survive?
- Are you really then taking up a collection for those in Jerusalem?
- Why do you, Paul, spend so much time in teaching Scripture and not entertaining and inspiring us with stories about the demonstration of God’s power, like the other apostles?
Transition: No wonder he was hurt!
Dr. Fred Creason did a study on 2 Corinthians when he was the pastor of FBC, Moorcroft, WY. He entitled his study, A Pastor’s Pain. Although, that isn’t the direction I’d like to go, you can’t help but see Paul’s painful struggle with these Corinthians. He loves them so much – I guess that’s why it all hurts so bad.
Truth is: you can protect yourself from pain by not developing relationships, don’t love those you work and serve with, by all means, don’t become a member of a church. Instead, don’t do what Paul did and risk having your heart broken.
CS Lewis:“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Maybe I chose to teach through second Corinthians for myself. Or, maybe just maybe I thought that was something you needed to hear. What Paul did and said and wrote to the Corinthians, it hurt them. But isn’t that how he showed his love? I mean really, if he didn’t love them, wouldn’t it have been so much easier on him if he would have just left them alone? But, when you love someone, you will share with them what they need to hear – even if it hurts.
I’d like to offer you some thoughts as we begin. Let me close with a few questions today:
- What is the state of your heart? Is it vulnerable, because you’ve been willing to love? Or, is it locked away safe from those who might hurt it? Be honest. What is the state of your heart? Some of you today will acknowledge that your heart is locked away safe and sound from ever being hurt by anyone ever again. And you will leave this place today without placing them before the Lord. I plead with you, don’t do it.
- Sometimes it’s not about loving, but more about allowing yourself to be loved. Maybe you think you don’t deserve it, and maybe you don’t! You’ve burned bridges, you’ve been mean, you’ve sabotaged your relationships. But isn’t that when love is truly expressed – When it’s given without any strings attached?
- Are there ministries that have become more important to you than people? Think about that for a moment. Do you worry more about money and possessions and power than you do about the very people you’re trying to serve?
- Is the Gospel hindered in any way because of relationships that remain unmended, unattended? Is it possible that you are the barrier to the Gospel going out?
- Do you have unfair expectations of your pastor? Of your staff? Maybe because another church has this or that or does this or that? Maybe your experience with ministry has given you expectations of this current administration that are unrealistic? Maybe you were a pastor (Lyle, Joshua, Tony Boyd, Rod Skelton, Shawn from the military) or your husband was a pastor or your dad was a pastor or your grandfather was a pastor or your brother is a pastor or your cousin is a missionary or maybe you served as a missionary or your parents were missionaries or your grandparents were missionaries or your dad’s cousin’s college roommate’s step-sister was a missionary! … Do you have a unfair expectations because you’re comparing the ministry staff at Calvary to something you know or heard of?
- Time. How do you spend your time? Is it investing in people or things?
I’m not sure how this works, but I’ve found something someone else did and wanted to share. I’m amazed at this generation – the ‘Greatest Generation’ as Brokaw calls them. So much of my perception of WWII is viewed through hazy black and white photos and movies. These photos are absolutely astonishing. Enjoy, as you remember…
Title: What are we doing?
Text: John 21.1-14
CIT: Peter and the disciples just experienced the resurrection of Jesus. Having been commissioned, how did they respond?
CIS: After meeting Jesus through his appearances, the disciples did not take the world by storm. Instead, they reverted back to their previous practices.
Introduction: Max Lucado tells a wonderful story about a time when he went fishing as a little boy. He and his father and his best friend were caught in a bad storm and never got to fish. What Max Discovered was when men Who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight.
Transition: we see a little of that this morning in John chapter 21. I’ve divided the chapter into four separate parts:
- Men who are called to fish
- Miracle by the sea
- More than a meal
- The true cost of ministry
Transition: let’s begin with this first section entitled: men who are called to fish.
1. Men who are called to fish (1-3)
exp.: rd v 1-3; many scholars are harshly critical of Peter and the disciples; have they abandoned what they’ve just experienced in chapter 20? Are they returning to their previous vocation? I mean, these guys have to eat. They probably need to make some money.
I’d like to build on this idea of what men who are called to fish do when they don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing. I’ve entitled it: When men who are called to fish don’t fish they:
- Do other things to fill the time; v 3; I don’t know if Peter was doing something he loves it it works you simply trying to raise some funds because he needed to make some money.
- Are easily distracted; v 3; this is the Lord calling from the shore and they don’t even recognize him. I think there are some good explanations for this – I’ll cover this morning the moment.
- Get bored; v 3; I’ve heard it said that the worst day fishing is better than the best day working. But really, fishing can be boring when you are not catching anything not even getting a bite.
app.:Best we can tell, these guys were not doing what they were supposed to be doing.
Transition: when men who are called don’t fish, they usually get in trouble. Enter Jesus… and the miracle by the sea.
2. Miracle by the sea (4-14)
exp.: this next section is really divided into two parts:
- They meet Jesus but don’t recognize him and
- They recognize him and move ashore
Let’s look at the first section in verse 4-8; note:
- It was at daybreak v 4
- They were about 100 yards offshore v 8
- Sound carries across the water
- Children; Craig Keener suggests that this Word is commonly used by John and that the disciple should have recognized Jesus when he called out. However, others note that this word translated children is a colloquial expression; Lads; Sup, Boys?
It isn’t until Jesus tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat that John recognizes the Lord and so tells Peter; and so Peter responds accordingly. He takes his outer garment and wraps around him. And he dives into the water and swims to shore. The men follow along behind him in the boat dragging the net for fish.
Read v. 9-12a;
ill.: I’m sure this is nothing like I imagine. My experiences are formed around camping trips and special outings. I’m sure this was more common for them than it is for us; However, I’m sure it was special because it was with whom they were having breakfast. Rd v12b-14;
app.: I think the few minutes they had with Jesus was so very precious to them. And, it would become more precious to them as they would reflect on that time through the years.
Transition: …especially for John. So we see what happens when men who are called the fish don’t fish and we see the encounter that these men have with Christ through verse 14. Now we will see that they will experience more than a meal.
3. More than a Meal: (15-18)
exp.: read verse 15; Andreas Kostenberger suggests three possibilities:
- Does Peter love Jesus more than he loves these men?
- Does Peter love Jesus more than these men love Jesus?
- Does Peter love Jesus more than he loves these fish– That is, his profession?
Really, in one sense, all three are true: Peter must love Jesus more than he loves people, more than he loves his profession, and he must be dedicated to Christ and willing to surrender every part of his life to Christ beyond what anyone else would do. Remember Peter had already said: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33)
However, having failed Jesus before, I can fully understand the pain he must have experienced. Can you, too? Should he ask you this morning, if you truly love him, would your mind drift back to a time of failure? Brokenhearted, Peter responded: yes, Lord; you know that I love you. Funny thing: Jesus asked Peter Do you agape me? But Peter responded you know I phileo you. It was as if Peter was not able to rise to the level that Jesus was asking. Maybe he’s thinking: After all my failures I just see how frail I truly am and I know I can only have this deep affection for you.
Rd v 16; asked again, this time with no comparisons; Do you really love me? The answer is the same – not an unconditional love. I don’t think this is bad; I think Peter is just being honest because he knows where he truly stands based on his past action.
ill.: Be honest: think about your own life. Have you loved Jesus unfailingly?
Rd v17; A third time he is asked, But this time Jesus changes his word from agape to phileo. Peter was ‘grieved’ because Jesus has asked a third time. I love his answer; Lord, You know all things – You know that I love you. In this moment, Peter loves Christ with all he can muster, but he knows it is a limited love, limited by human desires and passions. It is limited by failure, frustrations and human fatigue.
app.: And then something incredible happens:
Transition: we see what happens when men who are called to fish don’t fish, we’ve seen the meal and the miracle. Finally we’ll see what ministry costs us…
4. Ministry unto the Lord Costs (18-25)
exp.: rd v 18-19; In the two sections here, John follows A similar pattern: first he tells us what Jesus says and then second, He explains to us what he means.
- That Peter is going to suffer for Christ. And, Peter will one day be martyred. Rd v 20-22;
- Peter is told not to be concerned about John. Peter was to be strictly concerned with his own life before Christ. Many assumed by what Jesus said that John would live until Christ’s return. But John clarifies once again what Jesus meant in verse 23;
John ends this passage by declaring who he is and that what he’s done and he is limited here by nature.
Transition: this passage raises some valid questions for me. Let me ask them and then you decide if it applies to you.
Observations & Implications: please remember, these questions were formulated out of my own, personal introspection.
- Why must I always be so concerned about others and their walk and service, and yet be so neglectful of my own? Martha, Martha, Martha. Luke 10
- Why is it I don’t ask myself why I spend so much time doing other things – filling my time with lots of action, but neglect the commission I’ve been given? I participate in good ministries and yet somehow I neglect to share Christ in that work.
- Do I communicate to Christ that I love my profession more than him because I spend more time working on my profession? Do I communicate to Christ that I love people more than I love him because I spend more time and energy on them? Am I really lying to myself and deceiving myself by keeping busy in ministry and not fulfilling the real purpose behind ministry?
- Why is it that I do not accurately calculate the cost to myself and to those around me when considering the great commission as it applies to my life? Maybe I do and that’s why I don’t share? Maybe I just don’t care? Or maybe, just maybe, I am more concerned about my job – making money, retirement, etc. professions, or my people (I.e.: me and my four and no more).
- I’m going to carry this water to the desert and stop this hauling water to the sea. John chapter 20 found the disciples excited over the resurrection of Jesus and taking the message of the resurrection to their own. After being commissioned by Christ we do not see them taking this message to a lost world. I wonder if we are John chapter 20 Christians? I wonder if today we find ourselves still taking the message to other believers I’m not lost world. Are we hauling water to the sea?