John 21

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:

  1. They meet Jesus but don’t recognize him and
  2. 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:

  1. Does Peter love Jesus more than he loves these men?
  2. Does Peter love Jesus more than these men love Jesus?
  3. 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.

  1. That Peter is going to suffer for Christ. And, Peter will one day be martyred. Rd v 20-22;
  2. 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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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).
  5. 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?

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