Peninsula Community Church
March 28, 2016
Easter the Power to Overcome – Do Overs
John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
We are in the midst of a series on the strongholds and the mindsets that prevent us from being all that we have been called to or created to be. We started the series by briefly looking at some of the strongholds that are evident in our lives. Last week we were reminded that the debt of our sin has been nailed to the cross. We were reminded that the enemy of our souls loves to throw accusation, lies, and half-truths at us in hopes that we will take the bait and fall victim to his ways. But the cross reminds us that the debt of sin charged against us has been paid and the cross is the receipt of that debt.
Today, we will look at a second aspect of our life in Christ. As I noted last week it is important for us to establish an understanding of who God is before we move on to deal with the issue of strongholds and mindsets more specifically. That is why we looked at the cross last week and today we look at the results of the resurrection. While the cross reminds us that our debt has been forgiven, the resurrection reminds us that we have the power to begin again. The resurrection gives us the power to start over regardless of our past sin or our past failures. In essence we get a do over.
When I moved to New York, in 1979, I began to “try” to play the game of golf. When I first began to play, I played with some people who did not make the game very much fun. They continually corrected me. They criticized my swing, the way I was standing, the way I approached the ball, how I hit the ball, and on and on. They were so critical and such perfectionists that I wanted to give up the game which I did do for some time. But a number of years later I was asked to play again. After some persistence on their part and reluctance on my part, I agreed to play. I was surprised when there was a totally different environment this time. They gave instruction but it was done in a way that was not harsh or belittling. In fact, as we played I hit my normal bad shot. When I did that they said something that revolutionized my life in relationship to golf. One of the guys asked me if I wanted to take a mulligan. Of course I had never heard of that before because the people I had originally played with did not give mulligans. They were serious if not legalistic about their golf and they did not believe in such a thing. For those that may not know what a mulligan is, it is a second chance. It is a do over. You hit a bad shot and you have an opportunity to hit the shot again.
My message this morning is a message of do overs. It focuses on those around Jesus who failed and failed big time. You see when we talk about mindsets and strongholds in our life there is no greater place for this to occur than in the area of failure and blown opportunities. We feel life is over and there is nothing left to do. This comes as well when we have committed that sin or that thing that we believe has derailed us for life. The result is that we feel that our life has come to an end and there is no hope for a better future. You see this is much like the friends that took me golfing earlier in my life. Each failure was overly emphasized and I was reminded how horrible a golfer I really was. Instead of hope, I experienced disappointment and wanted to give up. But the resurrection is a reminder that we have a chance to start over. Because He lives, we have hope and we have a chance for a do over.
As we think about the resurrection and do overs we cannot help but think of the disciples who were negatively impacted by the events of Christ’s death. Think about it, the disciples who were by Jesus’ side for three years were nowhere to be found during His trial or the crucifixion. All of the disciples except for John ran and hid. Thomas doubted Jesus. Peter, as prophesied, denied his relationship with Jesus. We find the disciples are confused and when they received a report that Jesus is alive they reluctantly went to the grave site. This was in part because they struggled to believe the story that He had risen but also because they were afraid they might be arrested by the Roman guards.
Let me ask you this morning do you ever feel confused? Do you feel that you have been betrayed? After all Jesus said He would never leave them? Do you ever feel you have failed so big that there is no chance of forgiveness or opportunity to start over and make things right? Do you feel there are too many pieces to the puzzle of your life that are not fitting together? The fact is there are so many questions and so much brokenness around us. But we must hear the rest of the story to understand the day of new beginnings.
While all of this was happening we must be reminded that actions of the disciples did not prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead. That is the power of who Jesus is. Our lack of belief in Jesus or our sinful condition, no matter how bad it is, does not change who Christ is nor does it change what He has done on our behalf. We find in the story of Jesus that He rose again. Though He was dead, He now lives. But here is the amazing part of the story for me. As soon as possible, Jesus purposely goes to see the disciples. This band of believers who had failed to stay strong when it mattered most were in hiding but Jesus knew where they were. And most importantly, He knew the condition of their heart.
If you are familiar with the resurrection story you know that Jesus sought out the disciples. Jesus knew their pain. He knew the hurt, confusion, and rejection they were feeling. They should have known better but they still acted in a way that betrayed who they were. They failed to follow Jesus’ words and yet Jesus wanted to see them. It is noteworthy that while over 500 people saw that Jesus was alive, the scripture hones in on his visits to the disciples.
First, Jesus encountered Thomas who was a doubter. He doubted everything. How many have doubts today about your future and the hope you have? Doubt is such a robber of faith and it can cause us to be frozen in the past and in only what can be seen in the present. Notice that Jesus did not discredit Thomas’s doubt but gave him a chance for a do over. He allowed Thomas to touch His side and His hands and in so doing Thomas found a spirit of faith arise in him. He had a do over.
Then Jesus went to see Peter. He knew Peter’s rejection and denial. While Peter had failed, Jesus saw beyond his failure and saw his heart. If you remember, Peter was a passionate person. He was quick to speak out. Peter defiantly had promised Jesus that he would not forsake or leave His side. In that moment there was no doubt that Peter meant and believed what he said. He had ever intention of fulfilling his word but as we know from the crucifixion story, it was not long before Peter denied his relationship with Jesus, and he did so not once but three times. Can you imagine the heart of Peter in the moment when the rooster crowed? Can you imagine the guilt and the rejection he felt? What did Peter do, he ran and hid. Rather than heading to the cross, he headed to a back room in Jerusalem.
But here is the amazing part of the story. While Peter was confronted by Jesus and was questioned about his love of Jesus there is a greater story here. Notice that each time Jesus asked about Peter’s love for Him, Jesus commanded Peter to feed the sheep. That speaks to the fact that Jesus still trusted Peter to fulfill His mission. Peter was given a second chance. He was given a do over.
So what do we learn from this? First of all we see through the story of the resurrection that Jesus is always concerned about us and He is ready too give us a second chance. There is nothing that you can do to cause Him to stop loving you. Some of you who are here may feel that you have blown it and that there is no way that God could love you or forgive you. But here is the good news. He is seeking you out today. He wants you to know that He loves you and He desires that you come close to Him.
So how do we do that. We surrender your fears, your doubts, and your failures to Him today. In so doing, we must remember that our failures and shortcomings are not the end. They are a chance at new beginnings. There is hope and there is an opportunity to start over. Jesus is calling and He is coming to you today. He wants you to know that no matter what you might have done, life is not over. He loves you and He is extending His hand to you today.
Secondly, we must be aware that we need a do over. The problem too often is that we do not accept the fact that we need a do over when we have failed. We can be deceived into thinking that everything is ok, when it is not. It is also possible that no one has ever shared with you that you have the opportunity for a do over. Here is the fact we need to understand. Jesus has extended a hand of forgiveness. To go back to my golf analogy, there have been times where I have refused to take the mulligan and it cost me each time. Instead of being on the green in three or four I ended up with 7 or 8 strokes before landing on the green. The result was that my confusion and frustration was magnified. It did not have to be that way but I allowed it. So then the key is to recognize our need for Christ in our life and accept his do over.
And thirdly, confession is always a necessary process in this discussion. John was clear about this when he stated that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Paul also stated For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:22a-25). Here is a fact we can live with. We all need forgiveness. We all need restoration. Because we have all blown it at one time or the other. But thank God for do overs.
So as we close do you need a do over? If so, Jesus is here and He is extending His hand to you. Will you take His hand and hear His heart? He is saying I am ready to give you a do over. It comes by way of confessing the issue that is at the core of your heart. And it requires you to make whatever change is necessary to never go back there again. Are you ready? Let’s pray.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom