Despite Peter’s initial reluctance and later denial, Jesus’ consistent closeness and call for a new purpose encourages us to leave behind regrets and embrace the new work of Jesus in our lives.
You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
This is always the point in the year where I think we reflect on things ending and other things beginning. And this is really the heart of how Jesus came to us. You know, we've been talking about through the Christmas season, God is with us. And when Jesus showed up in the first century, in his community, in his context, I think what got him in so much trouble, what made so many of the establishment leadership so, the religious leaders and the civic leaders, what made him such a threat to them, was that he represented the end of old things and the beginning of new ones.
And this is scary for those who are protecting and preserving the old things. When someone comes and represents the end of those and the beginning of new ones, that's a threat.
But Jesus does this and his very presence and the way he taught and the way he worked and the kinds of things he was saying, he was introducing something brand new and it got Him in trouble.
And when we look at the Gospels through that lens, we find over and over again he's doing the same thing.
He's helping people release and let go of old things and to take hold of what is new. And maybe you don't represent some kind of religious establishment that is threatened by the words of Christ today, but in our own hearts and in our own life ways and the way that we live. And many times when Jesus comes into our lives, he represents the end of old things and the beginning of new ones. And that can be a threat to our own sense of how life works. And so my encouragement today, the few minutes we have together and I won't take a long time today, but the few minutes we have together is would you be open in your heart, in your mind, in your habits to saying, jesus, I want to let go of some old things so I can take hold of some new ones? I want to let the work of Jesus, what you've always been doing happen in my heart. Happen in my heart.
I want to read a story that represents kind of this new thing that Jesus brought everywhere he went out of Luke chapter five today. And this is a story about Jesus encountering the guys that would become his disciples. At this point, they're just kids working for their dads. And in Luke five we see Jesus meet up with the fishermen amongst the group that would become his disciples. And it won't be on the screen today, but I'm going to read it out of Luke five. Verse five says, one day, as Jesus was preaching on the shore of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God.
And he noticed two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. So get this picture. Jesus, he is beginning to teach. And as soon as he begins to teach, people are like, whoa, we've never heard anyone teach like this. So pretty soon, word spreads, and now there's crowds pressing in on him. And as he's teaching, the crowds are getting thicker and thicker until his back is up against the water at the edge of this lake, and he's got nowhere to go because the crowds are pressing in. And he sees these two boats, and he's like, I know what I'm going to do. So he gets in one of the boats. So stepping into one of the boats, jesus asked Simon, Peter, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. Now, get this picture. Peter, as well as James and John, have been fishing all night, which is when you would fish by midmorning, the sun is out, the heat is rising, and the fish are going deeper into cooler water. But at night, they would come up to the surface of the water when it was cooler. And so the habit of fishermen who knew what they were doing would be to fish all night. And then in the morning, they come back, they put their boats on the shore, and then they take out their nets, and they begin to dry clean and put them out on these big boards to dry in the sun before they would roll them up, store them, and then bring them out the following night. So this is a very time consuming, laborious process of wrapping up their day's work.
They're doing this, and Jesus is like, hey, Peter, get back in your boat. And so Peter, exhausted from his day's work that's happened all through the night, is now sitting with Jesus right behind him as Jesus is preaching. Now, I grew up in a church that had two chairs on the stage where the associate pastor and the worship pastor would sit while the pastor was preaching. Anybody grow up in one of these churches?
Why would you do that to the two other pastors? So they're having to listen to these sermons in full view of the congregation. And we had this one associate pastor, god bless him, without fear or shame, would sleep through the second half of every sermon I ever saw him sit through.
That is some courage, man. I'm not that strong. I couldn't do that. But he says, you know what? I'm just going to take this opportunity in front of the church to sleep through the pastor's sermon.
Yeah. Now, you don't feel so some of you are falling asleep right now. You're like, I don't feel so bad. I'm in the dark. No one can see me. This is great.
So Peter's sitting behind Jesus in the boat, and he's listening to Jesus teaching. He's like, I'm tired, right? I'm tired.
So when he had finished speaking this is verse four, jesus says to Simon Peter, now go where it is deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish.
Master, simon replied very respectfully, master, we worked hard all night and didn't catch a thing.
But if you say so, I'll let the nets down again. See what's happening here with Peter?
He has been raised in a fisherman's household. He knows that if they went out all night and didn't catch a thing when they were supposed to catch fish, what does Jesus think is going to happen when they go out in the heat of the day?
Peter knows good and well that there is no reason why they should have any better luck in the middle of the day than they had in the night. But because it's Jesus, he says yes.
Verse six. And this time, their nets were so full of fish, they began to tear. And a shout for help brought their partners in the other boat. And soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and he said, oh, Lord, please leave me. I'm such a sinful man.
For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him and his partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. See, Peter realizes in that moment, as the nets begin to come up full of fish to the point of tearing, who is in his boat with him.
And at the realization, because, see, he had seen Jesus heal before. And that was impressive. He had heard Jesus teach, and Jesus spoke with such authority. But when Jesus gets onto his territory in his boat and does what Peter good and well knows is impossible, peter understands that whoever just got into his boat has the power over nature.
And all of a sudden, Peter realizes, in the presence of such holiness, in the presence of such power and greatness, I cannot be.
And so he asked Jesus to get away from him. But where are they? They're in the deepest part of the lake. Where is Jesus supposed to go?
They are stuck in this little fisherman's boat. There is nowhere to escape. And so Peter in one moment is saying, jesus, I know I can't be this close to holiness because I know what's in my heart. I know what I've done. I know what kind of thoughts I think. And Jesus, I can't be anywhere near you. And Jesus just smiles and is like, Tough luck. We went out to the deepest part of the lake. We're stuck together.
Because here's the cool thing. This is the new that Jesus brings to this place. Peter is under the assumption from everything he's known growing up that sinful people have to be distanced from god, because God creates space when there's sinful people. And Jesus is bringing something brand new that says god is in the boat and there's nowhere to run from this closeness.
God is with us, and Peter's like, It's too with us. It's too close. I gotta get some distance. And Jesus says, I'm bringing a whole new way that you're gonna think about and know who God is.
So Jesus replies to Simon, don't be afraid. From now on, you'll be fishing for people. And as soon as they had landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Jesus in this one moment not only proves his power in the realm of work, that is Peter's specialty, his forte, his expertise. Jesus proves authority and understanding beyond Peter's. Then he says, And Peter, I'm giving you a new job.
You're going to have a new occupation.
And he gives Peter a new identity and a new purpose that is joined to the purpose of Christ.
Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. And in this moment, Jesus says, now Peter, you're going to do the same.
And so you know, the story likely that Peter and James and John become followers of this rabbi disciples of Jesus.
And they begin to follow Him and they walk with him, they learn from him, they hear Him teach.
They watch as he opens blind eyes and performs miracles as he raises a little girl from the dead. In Luke chapter nine, watch as he multiplies a lunch to feed a multitude. They even see him walk on the water.
They experience so much by the sight of Jesus.
But it all begins in this one moment with Peter. For Peter, it all begins when he says yes. What? To something that was within his ability when Jesus asked him to get in the boat and to go to deep water. That is not outside the ability of a professional fisherman, but it is unreasonable, it is not impossible for Peter to do, but it makes no sense. And yet Peter says yes. And here's what Jesus will constantly ask you to do.
He'll constantly ask you to do things that are not outside your ability, not outside the realm of the possible, but he'll ask you for a yes to things that seem illogical and unreasonable.
And when you say yes, it gets really exciting because you begin to walk in that place of faith where anything is possible because Jesus is in the boat. And what's scary about those moments, and I imagine in the story in Luke chapter five, the multitudes that had been listening to Jesus, they're from the fishing village. So they are all connected to the fishing industry. And now the sun is in the middle of the sky, it's the hottest part of the day. And Jesus is like, come on boys, let's go fishing. And they're like, yeah, let's do it. And all of their friends from the village are like, they're making a bad decision.
And I would imagine that Peter and James and John are like jesus, please don't embarrass us in front of our friends.
We are saying yes to you, but all these people are watching. I think this is true for us sometimes because of fear of what the village thinks. We tend to stay within the realm of what's reasonable. And Jesus is constantly asking us to push through that into the realm of the miraculous and the improbable in that place where we have to say, jesus, I hope you know what you're doing because this is crazy.
This is an exciting place that Jesus calls us to live.
When we say yes to the unreasonable at the call of Jesus, the nets begin to break.
Peter feels ashamed of himself and all of a sudden vulnerable and exposed because of the greatness of the person that is in his boat.
But God has come near. And as they go on the journey of following Jesus for three years in his ministry, and they see all these miracles, they get to this point at the end of the story.
You probably have heard it where they sit with Jesus and at the Last Supper and he begins to tell them that things are going to change once again. The end of old things and the beginning of new things are going to be different from this point on. And Peter stands up and he's pretty confident in his ability to stay committed and faithful to Jesus. And he says this bold thing to Jesus. He says, hey, if everyone else abandons you, I will never abandon you.
And Jesus effectively says, it's okay, Peter, sit down. You don't know what you're saying.
Because hours later they would end up in the garden of Gethsemane. And in that garden the Romans would show up and they would take away Jesus. And one by one those disciples that were committed to Jesus would walk away.
Until later that evening, as Jesus is standing awaiting trial, people would corner Peter outside the gate and they would say, Peter, I think this guy, they didn't know his name. I think this guy was one of those that was with Jesus.
I'm pretty confident. I saw this guy standing with Jesus just a couple days ago. I think this is one of the disciples. And Peter, the I will never abandon you guy says, you don't know what you're talking about.
You have no idea what I do not know the man. And three times, three times Peter refuses to be counted with Jesus for fear of what it will cost him.
And so like Peter, the other disciples, they abandon Jesus and Jesus goes to the cross and he's crucified and he's killed and buried.
And you can imagine the shame that those disciples felt.
They were committed to this guy. He was their Lord, their master, even their Savior.
And when he needed them the most, they abandoned him.
Easter Sunday arrives.
Rumors begin from the women, first at the tomb, then Peter, and then the other disciples that maybe, just maybe, Jesus is alive.
And that seems too wonderful to really believe, but maybe.
But here's the thing. The good news that maybe Jesus has come back from death is weighed and is counterbalanced by the reality that a resurrected Jesus, maybe more than anybody, knows the depth of the betrayal of Peter.
And so there's these tension points that are raging inside Peter after the resurrection. Maybe Jesus is alive. But even if he is, he knows how bad I've screwed up.
He knows how bad of a failure I really am.
And so we get to John, chapter 21 and after the resurrection. And there's this morning where Peter says, I'm going fishing. Right? Excuse me. It's in the evening before the morning. And so Simon Peter says, I'm going fishing. John, chapter 21, verse three. And so the disciples say, we'll come too. So they went out on the boat, but once again they caught nothing all night. I see a pattern here. These guys maybe aren't as good a fishermen as they all claim to be, right? So another night with no fish.
Verse four. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn't see who he was.
And so he called out to them, children, have you caught any fish? No, they replied. And then he said, throw your net on the right hand side of the boat and you'll get some. And so they did. And they couldn't haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
There's an obvious bookend to what Jesus is doing, but did you catch the difference this time?
The first time they pull in the nets and they should tear, but they don't. But they get them all in. The second time, there's so many fish, they can't even get them out of the water.
And I'm assuming it's at some point when they're trying to get these nets up and they can't believe the amount of fish that they can see in these nets as they're pulling them up, that John turns to Peter and he says in verse seven, it's the Lord.
And when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic, for he had stripped for work.
Too much information there, John, but that's okay.
And then Peter jumped into the water and he headed to shore.
The first time the miracle happens, when they're just kids by the shore. In Luke chapter five, the miracle happens and Peter realizes the kind of greatness he's in the presence of. And he says, Lord, you got to get away from me. In John chapter 21, after all they've been through, Peter hears it's the Lord, and he says, I got to get close to him.
And I don't think it's a mistake or a coincidence that at the end of the story of the Gospels, jesus returns to these men who have failed Him and does exactly what he did in the beginning.
He does the same miracle on the same lake, likely the same boat as if to say, you've made some mistakes, you have some regrets.
You feel like you failed me.
And yet the same calling, the same expression of purpose and a future that you heard me give to you in Luke chapter five, all the way back at the beginning is the same one now. At the end of all these failures and betrayals and inconsistencies in your life I still am standing here saying throw your nets down into deep water and see what comes out.
Jesus, in his kindness and his love and his compassion for these men is saying let me reiterate and re express to you what has always been true that in your imperfection I come close to you and give you purpose and identity. And there's this temptation for all of us like there was for Peter. When we consider the regrets of our past when we look at the life maybe that we've lived or the decisions that we've made and we want to sit in the boat and say jesus get far from me but he refuses to stay at a distance.
Instead, he's consistently, effectively, faithfully coming close and saying too bad. I'm in your boat.
I think if it was the intention of Jesus to find perfect people to use and to call and to be close to he went to the wrong fishing village in Galilee and he's come to the wrong church today.
But if it's the intention of Jesus to call those into purpose and identity who would hear his call and say yes and baby steps of faith. But then at the end of all things, when we've made some mistakes and we haven't lived up to our end of the relationship that he would come back and he would say it's still here. I'm still here.
You failed in so many ways, but that's not enough to keep me from you.
And so this is a call as we end one year and we step into another.
We could get so caught up in regrets and what ifs and if I had only looking back and wishing that we had done things differently wishing that somehow things had turned out in a different way. But today the call of Jesus is the call that he gave to Peter and James and John and each one of us come on, leave the past behind. I'm in your boat now.
The past is the past. But here in the present, I'm asking you, would you put your net down into deep water?
We've gone too far. We've come out into this place.
And now, if you'll hear my voice and walk into a place where anything could happen, I am maybe more confident than I've ever been in the kindness and the closeness of God and at the same time less confident than I've ever been in my own ability to perform well enough to act good enough to deserve his kindness in my life. And if that sounds like a contradiction, it is. Welcome to the Gospel of Jesus.
That where we're weak, he's strong. Where we have lack, he has plenty.
Where we are poor, he is rich. In mercy, peter makes it to the shore.
And instead of scolding or lecturing, peter. What Peter finds is Jesus has prepared a breakfast. I love that. Jesus loves breakfast.
So good. I know this intermittent fasting thing is popular where you skip breakfast every day. I just don't think Jesus is in that John 21. I'm not making it. It's john 21.
He makes breakfast for Peter and the disciples.
And then there's this interaction. Remember, Peter denied Jesus three times. And so Jesus, as he's sitting there with Peter and the rest of the disciples around the fire, he says this. He says, Simon, son of John, he uses his old name before his identity was changed, before he was called Peter by Jesus. So he goes back to the old name. So Peter is thinking, oh no, he's using my given name. Here comes a lecture.
Simon, do you love me, Simon? Peter responds, knowing what he's done. He says, Jesus, you know I like you a lot.
In Greek, he uses a different it's a lesser word. He said, do you love me? Second time, Simon. Peter says, I like you so much. I'm trying.
Jesus, do you love me? Simon says, I like you, Jesus.
But he knows, based on his track record, that it's too bold of a statement to say, yeah, Jesus, I love you with everything I got.
And Jesus responds to him, I'm giving you a new job.
See, Peter was planning on just returning to the water, returning to the fishing, returning to what he knew because he felt like he screwed it all up. And in that moment, Jesus said, I'm giving you a new job.
I'm not going to be around like this anymore. And so you have to care and tend and shepherd the church, my people. I'm giving you a new purpose, and it's my purpose again. And it's just such a beautiful restoration of who Peter is. And I think Jesus comes to every single one of us, from the front to the back. You online and he's saying, I'm giving you a new job.
I'm giving you a deep purpose that is attached to my purpose to restore and redeem in the world all around us.
Yeah, you feel like you've screwed up. You feel like you've failed. You feel like you'll never be good enough. And he smiles and he says, I know.
Now put your nets in deep water.
So Jesus, today we are here as a community of those who have been known to fail you confident that you are getting into our boat again.
At the end of this year, as we step into a new one, we look over and see Jesus, that you are close to us.
So I pray for those that feel like they've walked too far away, that they've made too many bad decisions, that they've screwed up on their purpose and their identity in you today, Jesus, you would give them the strength and the grace to leave the past behind, to lay down regrets. And what ifs hear the call that you give for a new task and a new job and a new identity that we would hear your voice because you're not far. You're really close.
You're really close.
So just receive that today, church. Just receive the new thing that Jesus is doing. Just take your permission today to let old things go, to say goodbye to old ways and old habits, to close the book and close the chapter on things that you've been trying to let go and today to receive the new work of Jesus, a new identity in Christ.
Oh, we thank you, Brent. Before Ben comes, could we just sing that chorus of whatever that last song was? Goodness of God, would you stand with us? Let's just sing this out as a response to the presence of Jesus today. He's doing a new thing, he's doing a good thing and he's using you. Let's just sing this as a response before Ben comes.
All my life you have been faithful all my life you have been so, so good with every breath that I am able oh, I will see all the goodness of God sing it again. All my life, all my life you have been faithful all my life you have been so, so good with every breath that I am able oh, I will sing of the goodness of God.