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A LONG NIGHT

Disclaimer: Today I'd like to share with you one of my favorites sermons (Yes, we preachers do have our favorites too).

A fog like mist seems to be rising up from the water at first dawn. It has been a long, dark fishless night on the Sea of Galilee. Against the back drop of the Judean hillside is what appears to be the form of a man and a few flickers of light low to the ground.

"Have you caught anything?" a voice is heard to say. "No", said the fishermen. "Cast on the right side of your boat" replied the voice. Wondering about the rationale of such an instruction, the disciples of Jesus did it anyway. What?, they soon exclaimed! Their net was full of 153 large fish! And yet, even with so many fish, not one strand of the net was broken. When Christ is in control, there is abundance and no brokenness!

At this large, unexplainable catch, John shouts: "it is the Lord"! Peter then draws his outer coat around himself and plunges into the water. This is the third time the Resurrected Christ appeared to His disciples. Remember, Peter had failed Jesus, the other disciples and himself. Indeed, before the rooster crowed, Peter had denied Jesus three times. It happened on the very night that Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, falsely accused and mocked. Because of his tragic failure, Peter was disappointed, discouraged, and defeated.

You know, the same is true for us. If our disappointment(s) is not brought brought into check, it turns into discouragement. If our discouragement(s) is not overcome, it becomes disillusionment. And if our disillusionment is not conquered, it results in defeat. We win at every level through the presence and power of the Risen Christ!

I can hear Peter, after the rooster crows and Jesus looks intently at him (as if to say, Peter, I warned you and you were too proud to listen), say: Will I ever be able to tell Jesus that I am so very sorry? Will He ever speak to me again? Will Jesus ever to able or willing to forgive me for my sin and failure? Will His love and grace reach even me? Jesus has appeared to His disciples two times already and neither Peter nor Jesus has taken the initiative to talk about Peter's sin and failure or of potential restoration. "Add insult to injury" as is said, but the bottom line here is the relationship between Peter and Jesus seems all the more damaged and beyond repair in Peter's mind.

However, a NEW DAY DAWNS! In John 21:4, we read that the Resurrected Christ met His followers again on their own turf - on the sea and they are fishing. Jesus reveals Himself to them. Here was the signaling that His love, grace, mercy, availability and forgiveness are real!

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. This was a new day for ALL the disciples as they had ALL forsaken Jesus on the night He was betrayed by Judas and they ALL ran for their lives. Here was a New Day for ALL of them and certainly a New Day Dawning for Peter. JESUS TOOK THE INITIATIVE IN PETER'S RESTORATION! He invites His followers to a Galilean Breakfast!

Notice, the personal and powerful ministry of Jesus to the disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned and defeated Peter! Jesus brought Peter to: (John 21:15-17)

  1. A New Humility - "Peter, do you love me more than these? Peter had learned this lesson well as shown in what he wrote later in life. (I Peter 5:5-6)

  2. A New Loyalty - "Do you love ME"? Peter experienced this new loyalty as shown in what he later wrote. (I Peter 5:6-10)

  3. A New Intimacy - "Do you LOVE Me? Jesus took the initiative - His love grace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation are indeed available and are extended to Peter! Peter's questions, doubts, apprehensions were all answered. Jesus will speak to me again. Jesus is willing to forgive my sin and failure. His love, mercy and grace will reach even me!

We need to note the major Greek (original language of the New Testament) words for LOVE and the usage of two of them in John 21:15-17.

Storge: Strong family love or natural affection for family members, such as a mother's love for her child

Eros: Sensual, passionate, romantic love

Phileo: A very deep friendship love, such as David and Jonathan (I Samuel 18:3)

Agapao: To love unconditionally; the love that ONLY comes through the Holy Spirit; Divine Love

When Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me"?, the first TWO times Jesus used the word "Agapao" - Divine Love. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me (unconditionally with divine love)"? Peter answered both times using the word "Phileo". "Yes", he said, "I love you (with a deep friendship love)". The THIRD time Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me" using the word "Phileo".

The Scripture says: "Peter was grieved (was gravely saddened) because Jesus asked him the third time "Do you love me"? Some say that Peter was deeply sad because of the third time Jesus inquired about his love or him; THREE DENIALS AND THREE INQUIRIES. Maybe an element of truth here. However, Peter was grieved or deeply saddened because Jesus used the same word for love (Phileo) that Peter, himself, used in replying to Jesus the two times before.

In other words, Jesus asked Peter: "Do you love me as you yourself say you love (Phileo) me"? In essence Jesus said to Peter: I know you can't yet say I love you unconditionally with Divine Love, but I want to know, do you truly love me as your dear friend? And Peter "Yes, I do"!

Lastly, Jesus brought Peter to:

4. A New Responsibility - FEED MY LAMBS/SHEEP

Genuine followers of Jesus do have a responsibility. We are Christians under Divine Assignment - to fulfill The Great Commission assigned to us by Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20) "Go and make disciples. . . ."

These are the puzzle pieces that when put together picture the life-style of the followers of Jesus Christ. We experience God's creative grace, releasing pride to inner humility, growing in loyalty and unconditional love to Jesus, and fulfilling His purpose and mission! How are we doing in the development of this life-style?

In closing, we may be a candidate for the Dawn of a New Day! We may experience disappointment, discouragement, despair, disillusionment or defeat right here and right now. We may be struggling with sin or failure. We may wonder if Jesus cares about me; does His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness reach to even me? The answer is a resounding YES! Commit all to Him today, even right now, and receive from Him all you need! It's perhaps been a long night, but a new day dawning is here!





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About Me

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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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