Amazing Grace #2 "That saved a wretch like me"

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Go ahead and just leave your Bibles open to John chapter 21. It is good to see everyone here this morning. We've got visitors with us. We're grateful that you are here with us today as well. Want to welcome you and and hope that we have the opportunity to meet you after services if we haven't had that opportunity already. Last Sunday I began a series amazing grace. This is going to be our... After today, the remainder of the year on the first Sunday of each month, we will be talking about grace and how it affects our lives in different areas. One of the things that I said last week when I was talking about grace is that oftentimes grace instead of just looking for a definition for the word and because we often tend to look at Grace and we immediately rushed to the definition unmerited favor. Sometimes grace though is better demonstrated than it is tried to simply to define it.

I believe that what we are going to see this morning in John chapter 21, is grace demonstrated. And that's why I say that right up front because sometimes you look at this and you see the screen says amazing grace, but what we are going to witness today is grace on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There are a couple things that take place within this scene and I didn't have him read the first 14 verses of the chapter but we can't go through to where Peter is, and Jesus is right now without reflecting back to the first few verses. I want you to to remember now that Jesus is risen from the dead. He has been crucified prior to this though, the night that he was arrested, the night that he stood on trial before the chief priest and then as he goes to pilot and to Herod and back to pilot -- what has happened to the disciples? They scattered! They spread; the very thing that he had told them that would take place, and I want you to consider for just a moment that some of this is very likely still in the minds of those who did those things. But what we have now is a scene that takes place on the Sea of Galilee. It's early morning; the sun is starting to break across the horizon and there are fishing boats out on the Sea of Galilee. One in particular is our focus this morning, and it is filled with seven men. It wasn't their original plan, I don't think -- six of the seven, at least -- it wasn't their original plan to go fishing the night before. It was Peter who stood up while they were there and said, I'm going fishing. And then you see six of the others say, well, we're going to go with you.

Well that's Thomas, that's Nathaniel, that's James and John and then two others who are not named. And so they go out, and we understand fishing boats then were not the size of what we might consider commercial fishing boats today. If you've ever watched "Deadliest Catch", you know they didn't have a boat like that. But it's a small fishing boat and it's one where they fished with nets and they've been out now since the early morning hours in the dark, casting their nets and obviously we are going to see the nets had been cast on the left side of the boat. But their success at fishing that day was not very good. They were not very good at all. Their nets were empty. And what you end up seeing, then, is it at the same time is all of a sudden standing on the shore, shore line. There's a figure there of a man who they cannot recognize. And he cries out to them, "Children have you any food?" And they answered him, "No." And he said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." Well now, I don't know about you, I'm not a very good fisherman, and if I've been out fishing all this time and I have not caught anything, I'm taking my rod and reel and I'm going home. And they'd been out all night long and their nets are empty and they're, they're bringing them in. I think they're just preparing to come to shore anyway and then they hear a voice, cast your nets on the right side and you'll catch some. Well, they weren't expecting what was going to happen.

These men, Peter, James and John, and if Andrew is one of the two that is not mentioned, that is their profession -- Fishing is their profession. And surely in their mind, not knowing who this is on the shoreline now, it's gotta be going through their mind. Come on, I've been at, we've been out here all night long, we've not caught anything. And you say cast it on the right side and we're going to catch something? But you know what they don't do? They don't hesitate. I don't see any hesitation in the text. It says, so they cast and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Some people say it's a miracle, some people don't. Some people say, you know, sometimes on the sea of Galilee you can see from the shoreline, schools of fish there, and they just happened to be fishing on the wrong side. Regardless of what you think about that: what takes place happened immediately, and it's still amazing when you think about it. I was watching a video of something similar to this, and I can't remember if it's a new movie that's supposed to be coming out, a trailer, but it was these men fishing in this boat and all of a sudden this catch and you see the boat jerk, tipping up, doesn't tip over -- But the catch of fish was so large that it was noticeable. And these men, seven men on this boat knew that that's what was taking place. They had a large catch of fish. They didn't know necessarily how it happened, but, I'm sure that they're grateful that it happened. How did this man on the shore who they can't see, or at least recognize, have known this? Take into consideration that after they catch these fish, their attention turns back to the shoreline.

They've got to be looking at the man that's standing on the shore and trying to figure out who he is and it's John that.... we look at John in the gospel and he always, he tends to describe himself as the one whom the Lord loved. It's John that speaks up and said, "It is the Lord."

Now I don't know how loud he said it. I don't know if Peter was just standing there next to him as he said it, or it was just a statement, or a matter of fact, or if it was a statement of excitement. Either way. John is the only one that recognized him. It's the miracle that it's taken place right here. John knows... But it's Simon Peter's reaction that catches my attention. Because when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord he put on his outer garment, which he had removed, and he plunged into the sea. What do we see Peter doing? We see Peter being, Peter, don't we?

You see Peter going back to Jesus, walking to them on the water and what's Peter do? He's the first one out of the boat, the only one to go out of the boat. Now we know what happened on that day. He, he was walking to the Lord, everything around him, the storm was kind of rough around him and the sea was rough and he started to sink and he was accused of being of little faith by Jesus that at that time. We see him in the garden when Jesus is being arrested, and he draws a sword and cuts off the ear of a servant in defense of the savior.

I see Peter here being Peter. He demonstrates to me just how much he loves the Lord, and in Peter's excitement, what does he do? He forgets about the other six and the fish that are being pulled in. And that they're all struggling to get this in. Anyway, he swims to the Lord. 200 cubits off onto the shore, away about a hundred yards maybe away and Peter puts on that outer garment, doesn't think a second thing about it, and he jumps in the water and starts heading straight toward Jesus. It is interesting that when it happens, the others, struggling to pull in all this fish, eventually get the boat and the nets to the shore and the nets are so full of fish that you would have thought, at least the way it's described as being large fish -- that the nets would have broken with the catch, but they didn't. They're able to get them to the shore and what do you see? It says, "Then, as soon as they came to land, they saw a fire of coals there and fish laid on it, and bread."

You think about Peter, going back to Peter for just a moment. The one thing that I had left out that Peter had done prior to this, Peter being Peter, is Peter had made a promise to the Lord that he would be willing to die with him; that he would never leave him, never forsake him. And Jesus had told Peter that he was going to deny him three times that night before the rooster crowed twice.

No hesitation in Peter jumping into the water. But can you imagine for just a moment that the doubt that could have crept into his mind: Should I do this? Is Jesus even going to be receptive to me when I come to him this way? You know, one of the things that he could have frozen in his tracks out of fear, that Jesus might say something to him when he saw him. And one of the things that I noticed in the text is that didn't happen. There was, there was nothing said by Jesus when Peter arrives there and Jesus doesn't say anything to Peter like, you know, Peter, I'm so disappointed in you. You couldn't keep your word. You denied me three times. I'm not sure I can ever trust you again. Jesus never says anything like that, does he?

There's nothing negative said to Peter at all and think about the disciples, now. The other six that have come on the shore and they also were scattered. Jesus doesn't say anything negative to them either. Now, keep in mind -- we don't want to forget -- that Jesus has already appeared to the disciples. But still, this is a magnificent scene before Jesus ascends back into heaven, and I think that there are are things that when these men have come in and they've seen this and they've seen what's taking place right here on the shore, you know, they've been out all night, they're hungry, they weren't expecting anybody to prepare the meal for them on the shoreline. And there it was... And Peter turns around now and helps him drag the net on the shore. 153 large fish is what they have.

Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish with them and eventually they're going to sit down around the fire and they're going to eat. Jesus said to them, "Come and eat Breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you," knowing that it was the Lord.

You know... it's not going to be easy to recognize someone a hundred yards away, even with perfect eyesight; especially at Dawn, where things are are not quite as illuminated as they needed to be. But now they've arrived at the shore and John knew who it was, and the rest of them, recognizing Him, do not say who He was. They say this out of, is this stated by John out of fear. Yet none of the disciples dared ask him who he was. I don't think it's out of fear. There may have been some uncertainty as to who he was, but now what they have is they are one hundred percent certain that John was correct when he said what he said. There's no doubt at any anytime and John records in the text that this is the third time now that Jesus has revealed himself to them since his resurrection. Three times now.

Now, just for a moment, I want you to imagine the scene on the shore. The disciples were sitting around the fire with Jesus and were eating. No one asked who he was because they recognize him, and yes, these are the very same men that had deserted Jesus shortly after his arrest. And yes, there's one in the midst of them who angrily denied that he knew Jesus. What do you see? Jesus cooking breakfast for them! What do you call that? Grace! You call that grace.

Now I know, Grace is not in there, but it's demonstrated by Jesus. It's not stated as a word, but it's demonstrated by Jesus to the seven that are there. But you know what? That's not the end of this scene is it? That's not the end of this text, because there's more. It doesn't end with breakfast. It doesn't end with them cleaning up from the meal and loading up the fish, and going back into town. What happens next is probably one of the most amazing scenes in John's gospel, to me. And it's one that when you think about what is going to transpire and Jesus is going to look directly at Peter and he's going to say, Peter, do you love me?

Well, you have to think back to his denial. I looked and believe that what's taking place right here in these verses beginning at verse 15 is just that -- that Jesus is giving Peter opportunity to reaffirm what Jesus already knows. But maybe Peter needs to say it out loud because if his denials that he said out loud. Because Jesus doesn't ask him one time. He doesn't just ask him twice. He asked him the same question three times, but he asked him the question two different ways. In the first two questions, Jesus is going to ask him, "Peter, do you agape me?" In the third question he asked him, "...do you phileo me?" Two Greek words. I don't know if you've been watching TV lately and seen any commercials online, but there are, uh, or there's one commercial right now that talks about four different Greek words for love. And the last one that they deal with is the one agape. And it's an, it's an ad that talks about that type of love, agape type love. I don't remember much else other than it concentrates on those four, four words, but agape, in particular.

But each time that Jesus answers or Jesus asks this question, Peter is going to answer in the affirmative. Peter's going to say, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Lord? You know all things, you know that I love you." Well, I want you to think about these questions for just a moment. Each time Jesus asks the first one, Peter, do you love me more than these? There is that, agape, love. That is that superior love. There is that sacrificial love that Jesus is asking him, "Do you love me?" And maybe at this time because Peter, knowing his own weaknesses, Peter knows that he loves the Lord, but he doesn't necessarily overstate it, like he's done in the past. And so he says, yes, I phileo, I love you. But that question, do you love me more than these? Does just that. It challenges the superiority of Peter's love. Now what does Jesus mean by do you love me more than these? Does it mean to you, love me more than the fish that you caught? I don't know. I don't believe that's the case. Do you love me more than these men that are here with you right now? That seems a little more plausible, but at the same time, I can't tell you 100% that that's the case. Does Peter, do you love me more than the world offers? The superiority of Peter's love is such that are being questioned. What are you willing to sacrifice to love me?

Well, we know what Peter said prior to this, that I'll die for you. Jesus is asking again about the quality of his love. The second Peter, do you love me, becomes more personal. It's directed at at Peter. Again, it is not "Do you love me more than these?" It is, "Peter, do you love me?" And now what you see in this text is just that: It is Peter again reaffirming that type of thinking. Simon, son of Jonah. Do you love me?

And the third one, there's the affectionate love.

That's the Phileo, because that's where Jesus comes back in and uses the same word that Peter has used to answer all three times. Well, my question is this: "Even though Peter might've become a little distressed with the third question, do you hear the humility in Peter's voice with each answer? I do. Yes, Jesus knew Peter; Lord, you know the hearts of men. You know that I love you. Yes. Jesus knew those things. He knew what was in Peter's heart. He knew where Peter's heart was. And then it happens. Jesus says, with each of Peter's affirmatives, "Feed my lambs, Tend my sheep, Feed my sheep." I go back to Matthew chapter 16 and I hear Peter confessing, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." And Jesus saying, "...upon this rock, I will build my church, and the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." But he told him prior to that, that it wasn't what he learned here on earth that taught him those things. It's what he learned from above.

It was Peter and the disciples based upon that confession that would be given the keys to the kingdom. They would be the ones that would loosen and bind those things that Jesus already had loosed in bound. And Jesus is telling them, again, of their responsibility in the kingdom. And after all of that, I'm not sure Peter ever thought he would hear those words again. I believe those words were spoken confidently by Jesus because he knew Peter. Brother Randy Cavendar, preaching in Poteau this week made mention two weeks ago, how the Bible takes our Bible heroes and shows us their flaws.

Well, Peter's a great example of one who was flawed but ends up being a great Bible hero! One that we can look at and we can see that he was shown grace. And then Jesus issues the same call that he issued the first time he saw Peter on the boat, "Come follow me."

There are three things I want you to consider: Jesus came into Peter's world. He came into our world. We didn't enter into his. Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to turn three denials into three affirmatives of his love for the savior. Did you ever doubt Peter's love for the Lord? I don't. Going back to that time when, just prior to what Peter denied him and Jesus told him that Satan had asked for him to sift him as wheat, that he was going to do these things. I believe wholeheartedly Peter believed that, no, I will die with you. I will never leave you. I will not deny you.

Peter's love has never really been in question in my mind, and I don't believe that Jesus is asking these questions because he doubted them. I think the questions were asked because he didn't want Peter to doubt his love for him. And there's that call -- come follow me. Believe me, when you look at the rest of the new Testament, that's what Peter did. Was he still weak? Did he still make some mistakes? Galatians chapter two seems to say that he does, but after Galatians chapter two and what took place there with the Gentiles and the way Peter treated the Gentiles, we don't see anything like that.

Going back to John chapter 21, verse 19 it says, "This, he spoke signifying by what death he would glorify God." And when he had spoken this, he said to him, follow me. Peter would die. Historically, we are told Peter is crucified, but Peter refused to be crucified in the same manner that Jesus was. He did not feel that he was worthy and history tells us that Peter was crucified, but he was crucified upside down. This profession of faith: Jesus demonstrates grace to Peter, to the other six on the shore line, and he will demonstrate similar grace to us if we follow him.

Romans chapter three verses 23 through 26 they read, "...but now the righteousness of God, apart from the law is revealed being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. To all and on all who believe for there is no difference." (I think I've got a few more verses in here.) Then verse 23: "For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely, how? By his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation to demonstrate" his what? "His righteousness." Because in his forbearance, God passed over the sins that we previously committed to demonstrate at the present time his righteousness that we might be just or that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

John recorded these things for us. He demonstrated grace and what we need to understand today is there needs to be a community where we can confess our failures, where we can find forgiveness, where we can receive encouragement, where we can confess our love for Jesus and where we can learn like Peter did that past failures do not have to be fatal. Past failures can be corrected. Past failures can be forgiven. And there is such a place. Jesus promised such a place when he said, "I will build my church." A place that reveals the message of the cross, a place where the gospel of grace, the gospel of the grace of God is preached and taught. I believe this to be such a place. I believe that we can find security and comfort in the grace that was shown that morning on the seashore of Galilee. If you're here this morning and the failures of your past seem to keep you from moving forward, don't let that happen. Do something different this morning. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, then profess that love. Show him that love by becoming his child. Show him that you're willing to repent of your sins, for those past failures. Confess him before men and he'll confess you before the father in heaven. And understand this: Forgiveness by the grace of God can be yours. Be baptized for the remission of your sins. If we have to go down to the river today, we'll do that. We might, you know, we might be able to find other accommodations, borrow somebody else's baptistry, but whatever the need is that you have spiritually this morning, the grace of God is available to you. It is through that grace that you are saved through faith. Act in that faith this morning.