THE RELEVANT RESURRECTION: Goodbye Failure & Good Morning, Grace!

Easter Sunday
April 9, 2023
John 21:1-18

The life of Jesus is an indisputable fact–meaning there is factual evidence that He lived. What is controversial and has sparked debates throughout the ages is whether or not He still lives. His followers a few days after he died said that they saw him and interacted with him. One such encounter is described in John 21.

Peter and some of his friends were fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Peter, being one of Jesus’ closest friends, had witnessed his arrest and crucifixion. Surely he was nearby when he died. In the hours following Jesus’ arrest, Peter feared for his own life and in that fear denied Jesus 3 times. The most disappointing part for Peter was the fact that Jesus had told him he would do that–deny that he knew Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed. At the time, Peter vehemently rejected the thought, but when faced with fear that’s exactly what he did.

Peter was overwhelmed with the weight of that failure. The Bible says he so despaired that he wept bitterly. I think that at some point he figured he was disqualified from representing Jesus in any form. So he went back to the way of life that he knew before he met Jesus–fishing.

It was while he was fishing that this encounter in John 21 unfolds. He was fishing all night and caught nothing. Early in the morning Jesus appeared on the shore and directed them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. The Bible says their nets were then loaded with fish–so much so that they couldn’t pull it onto the boat. They had to haul it to shore towing next to the boat.

This passage of Scripture as Pastor Bennett unpacked holds so many beautiful truths about the character of Jesus.

  • He has the heart to forgive and restore
  • He loves to direct His children toward treasure
  • He does not thwart His purposes for us even if we mess up; if we have a repentant heart, He will always lead us to fulfill our purpose on this earth

In our humanness, we would understand if Jesus had disqualified Peter and chosen someone else to be the cornerstone and main leader of the church in the early days. However, that’s not the heart of God. The heart of God is full of mercy and grace.

Peter was overwhelmed by the weight of his failure, but God restored him gently and firmly at the same time. Peter came ashore to sit with Jesus after fishing and Jesus had prepared him a meal, “fish tacos”. 😊 Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves him. With each answer that Peter gives, Jesus reaffirms Peter and God’s purpose for his life. He wiped away the 3 denials with 3 affirmations. Three is the number of harmony, wisdom, and understanding.

There’s nothing we can ever do to escape His love. God’s love is so fierce that He embraces even those who vehemently deny Him. Peter fiercely and intensely denied Jesus, but Jesus’ Restorative Love was fiercer and more intense. Our failures do not push Jesus away, they pull Him toward us. Failures cause His grace to pour out even more. Even though we don’t deserve it–that’s what Grace is and does.

The resurrection of Jesus is not just an event to celebrate, but it’s an invitation for a life-changing encounter with a living Savior. Hundreds of years later followers of Jesus still tell stories of personal encounters with Him. Have you met Him? If so, I’m sure you can testify that your life has never been the same since. If not, we invite you to seek Him out. He promises that when we seek Him with all of our heart, He will be found by us.

Jesus not only forgave Peter, but He restored him and fortified him with nutrition for the mind, body, soul, and spirit. He restored Peter to a state in which Peter would never deny Him again. Not because of fear this time, but because of Love. Peter would joyfully serve God the rest of his days on earth knowing that his earthly work had eternal purposes. Also knowing that his dear friend and Lord had gone before him to prepare a place in heaven. So even in death, he would be victorious. The Bible tells us that Peter was eventually crucified as well, but he asked to be crucified upside down. When you know that Love awaits you on the other side of this life, you can find joy in knowing that death has been defeated.

“Our failures do not push Jesus away, they pull Him toward us.”