Monthly Archives: May 2019

WHY?

Peninsula Community Church 

May 26, 2019 

John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

This weekend has been established as a national holiday to celebrate Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those who have given their lives so we can live free as a nation and as individuals. It is noteworthy that Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War in 1856. The families and survivors of the Union Army were passionate about honoring those who gave their life during the Civil War. They would visit and place flowers on the graves of those who died. After World War I and all wars after that, those who died were honored. Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the price paid for our freedom. 

For so many, this weekend is associated with the beginning of summer, but the reality is it is less about the start of summer and much more about the lives who were sacrificed for our freedom. It is a time to remember why they died. Today, we are reminded these men died so we could be free. They died so we could worship and speak freely, even if we do not agree with the worship or speech of another person. They paid that price with their lives. On a side note, it is so sad that those freedoms are being encroached upon and being eroded in big ways. 

Last week we noted that to understand discipleship we needed to know the why more than the how of evangelism and discipleship. The how and mechanics of what we do is important, but the why of what we do is even more critical. Without the why, we can become mechanical and programmatic in our approach to discipleship. For a few minutes this morning I would like to consider the why of discipleship and evangelism. In other words, we will look at why we do what we do.

Last we week we were reminded that while salvation is important, growth in Christ in terms of discipleship was the focus of the “Great Commission.” So, why do we disciple others? Why does it matter? Why should we share Jesus with those we encounter and within our sphere of influence? The answer lies in this passage before us today. We are called to be disciples and we are to disciple others because of John 3:16. We do so because God so loved the world. 

This sin filled, depraved, godless world has been and still is loved by God. He loved it so much that He sent His son to die on the cross not for one sin but for all sin. This is the most incredible part of this passage. He did not die for some people, He died for all people. He died for the world, the whole world. He died for all mankind regardless of social standing, financial standing, or even one’s looks. Thank God for that. There is not one person who was not on the mind of Christ when He hung on the cross. We are all covered by the sacrifice He gave. 

Why did He do this? He did so in order that every person who would believe in Him might have eternal life, and not just eternal life but abundant life. You see Jesus did not come to help us just escape hell. He did not die so that we could join a Christian social club. He died so we could live and live freely in a world that seeks to shackle us with fear, anxiety, and deceit. He died so that anyone who would believe in Him and accept Him would be received as His child. Through acceptance of Christ his or her name is written into the Book of Life. 

We must understand that salvation is not automatic. You must choose to accept Christ as your Savior. The sad part is that not all will be saved because they will refuse to choose Him. Instead they will reject Christ and His provision for abundant life. The truth is that not every person will be saved but the opportunity for salvation is available for all people. This includes the worst of all mankind and it includes the best of all mankind. We must all accept Christ on our own and for ourselves. We cannot depend on our friends or our family. We must accept Him personally. 

Because of God’s love there is great misunderstanding of some doctrine that is being propagated by some in the church today. There is so much that is based in human ideology and not God’s theology. I have stated this before. We must be assured that our presuppositions are formed by Scripture and not the other way around. We must not allow our presuppositions to determine our beliefs, but we must allow God’s word to form our beliefs. When we start from the basis of our own beliefs, and we are looking for Scripture to give us answers to support our beliefs, we have failed to allow the Word of God to be the roadmap of our life. In a world that is encouraging us to jettison all absolutes and live by our own moral compass, we as believers need to heed the call of God to live by the word and not our own beliefs. 

With that said, I would suggest to you that there are four motivating factors for our work in discipleship and evangelism. It is these motivating factors that define for us the why of discipleship. First of all, the love of Christ compels us. As we look at this passage let me let you in on a secret. God did not create the world, sling it into existence and then forget about it. He loved the world before its foundation. He loved the world when mankind failed in the Garden and sin came rushing into their minds and hearts. He loves the world just as much today as He did then. It is that love that compels us to share Christ with others. It is that love that constrains us to accomplish His will. Listen to Paul’s words. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV). In the ESV the word is Christ’s love controls us.

So, why do we do this? We do so because the love of Christ overwhelms us. We do so because the love of Christ motivates us to speak truth in love to those we encounter and to those to whom we have been given influence. When we embrace the love He has for us and that love overwhelms us and motivates us to share our faith with others. 

Second, we are commanded by Christ to disciple. The love of God experienced through the work Christ done on our behalf motivates us to obey God’s call to be discipled and to disciple. If you remember, last week we found that Jesus commands His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Peter says to all Christians, “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). 

We disciple because it is a part of the plan executed by God. Think about this, God could have used any means possible to share His love. He could have just spoken directly to those around us. But for some strange reason, He chose us. He chose this imperfect, sinful creature created by God to be the vessel He would work through to touch people and to give them the word of hope. 

Third, a love for the lost compels us. A love for the lost should compel us to have compassion for those in need, and everyone’s greatest need is eternal salvation. We saw before that it is love that should compel us as a motivation for discipleship. To effectively accomplish this we must have a love for those to whom we are being sent. 

To understand that love we must consider how richly God has loved us. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1). Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11).

And finally, we disciple because we have a love for God. Our ultimate motivation in evangelism must be to see God glorified, and God is glorified when the truth about Him is known and made known. Thus our desire should be to glorify God by proclaiming the truth about Him as often as we can. This motivation will sustain us when our love for others may run dry. If we are to faithfully evangelize despite rejection, opposition, and even persecution, our deepest motivation must be to glorify God. You see perfect love casts at all fear. When our love for God overwhelms us, we are motivated by faith and not the individual we are sharing hope with. 

So why do we disciple others? We do so because of the love of God who sent His son and the love that is manifested in our hearts.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Make Disciples

Peninsula Community Church 

May 19, 2019 

Matthew 28:16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Acts 1:7-8 He said to them,“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In the movie Citizen Kane, the last words Charles Foster Kane utters on his death bed are the words “Rosebud.” These words served to frame the movie’s narrative and provide the key to understanding the man’s tragic but world-changing life. In Jesus’ final days, He also spoke powerful words to His disciples that frame the narrative that would guide the rest of their life. These words continue to guide us and direct us as passionate followers of Christ, even today. You see Jesus gave us a “Great Commission” that helps us focus on our purpose and the reason we live in this world torn apart by sin and the depravity of mankind. It gives us purpose beyond our existence today.

The statements before us answer the life long question that so many ask. “Why am I here?”  “What am I suppose to do with my life?” “Can I really make a difference?” Mark Devers in his book “Disciple Maker” has suggested that disciplining is a ministry of how, but it is really a ministry of why. Discipling others involves modeling faith and godliness with our lives. Paul called those in Philippi to imitate what he had done and the life he lived (Philippians 3:17). Effective discipling also imparts the reasons for believing in and living for Jesus. Paul called Timothy to entrust to others what he had learned from Paul (2 Timothy 2:2). So discipleship is in fact a means to show why the way of Christ is the way to go. It is to answer the question “why Christ.” “Why should I believe?”

The truth is we are always disciplining. We are always effecting others. To disciple others we  must be passionate followers of Christ ourselves. Anyone can imitate Christianity for a while without any real conviction, but that kind of “faith” will not last, and it will not save. False Christianity is a hindrance to people receiving what they really need. The fact is those who look to us need the truths we believe, the truths behind how we live, but they need more than just a good person to follow, they need Jesus. You can never teach anyone all the how’s, but when you teach them the why’s, you prepare them to exercise wisdom and generate their own how’s long into the future.

As we look at the words contained in this passage, we find that through these words Jesus laid out three exclusive means to be disciples for Him. I say exclusive because this is reserved for those who have experienced a saving knowledge of Christ. These three elements include the following. He gave us a plan. He gave us a promise. He empowered us to accomplish the task that He called us to do. That is what I love about Christ. He never calls us to anything that He does not equip or prepare us to accomplish. Hudson Taylor the great missionary to China had one of the greatest quotes ever. He said Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. How many times have you been assigned a task but were not given the tools or power to accomplish the task? God never does that. He always provides everything we need.

So what is discipling? Mark Dever suggests that “At its core, discipling is teaching.” He says, “Your discipling should help people understand more. Through discipling, you want people to know why Christians pray, why we share the gospel, why we join the church, why knowledge of God’s sovereignty impacts how we live, and more.” To do this we must have been impacted by the Gospel message ourselves. We must have been changed by the radicalness of the Gospel.

A careful observation of this passage reveals that the only command in this text is really to make disciples. While go is a command. Teach is a command. Baptize is a command. In the original language, the major command here is to make disciples. All of these are the actions to be taken in order to disciple those around us. In essence, the passage could be translated something like this . As you are going, make disciples. As you are teaching, make disciples. As you are baptizing, make disciples. The emphasis, the pinnacle of this passage, is on discipleship. We reach people and bring them to a knowledge of Christ and help to deposit in them a hunger for more. 

As we consider these words, let us look at what He has done for us. First of all, Jesus gave us a plan. The words we have before us are just as powerful and just as important as they were 2000 years ago. Notice what He communicates to His disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples.” This is more than just winning someone to Christ. It is turning hearts to the ways of Christ. It is allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you in such a way that people would want what you have. I think, based upon this text, Jesus would say there are three things that are true for disciples. Disciples have been adopted by God, disciples are being formed by God, and disciples are empowered by God for life and mission.

We have focused at times so much on the evangelism aspect of what God wants us to do, we have missed the discipleship aspect of what He has called us to do. Not too many years ago one of the largest churches in America, Willow Creek Church, realized an important missing component in their ministry philosophy. They had done a good job of bringing people into the church through evangelism, the problem was that they had not been as successful in discipling those who came into the church. 

Listen to Hybels own words. ”We made a mistake… What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self feeders. We should have gotten people (and) taught people how to read their Bible between services (and) how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.” Hybels indicated that the emphasis on programs and meetings did not produce disciples. Did you get that? Programs and ministries do not produce disciples. We must engage the gospel personally to grow in Christ. 

The problem was that while the church was growing, they were not making disciples. While there is something to providing an atmosphere that encourages people to come to the church and feel welcomed. It is another to provide opportunities for people to grow and become disciples. How do we know that people are disciples of Christ? A true disciple of Christ makes disciples of others. That is disciples make disciples. That is why it is noteworthy that Christ commanded us to make disciples and not just evangelize. Evangelism therefore is a subset of discipleship because without accepting Christ, discipleship is ineffective. 

Jesus said that we are to go into all of the world. The question however is where is our world? In other words while we all have a sphere of influence sometimes we need to move outside that sphere of influence to reach others. The world is our ministry. Where ever God plants you, that is your field of service for Christ, that is your world. No matter where you are, make disciples of all men. It is not your job to be selective, but to reach those you are given the influence to reach.

Secondly, He has given us a promise. He will be with us. He will be there and will guide your words and your voice. For this reason, we do not have to fear or for that matter worry about what we will say or do. Be confident in the fact that He is with us and that He is watching out for us. Be confident that He is leading us and directing our steps. Man makes plans in his heart but God directs his steps. 

Thirdly, He has empowered us. Jesus promised that He would not leave us without empowering us to accomplish the task at hand. He has empowered us by way of the Holy Spirit. There are some in the world who have a mistaken idea of what the Holy Spirit does and what His role is in our life. Based on Acts 1 His responsibility is to empower us to evangelize and disciple others. 

How does He do that? We only have to look at some of the amazing stories of the Book of Acts to see how this is worked out in us. Peter stood and preached a message where 3000 came to know Christ in one service. The disciples were empowered to meet daily in homes to encourage one another, teach the word, and share life with one another. The Holy Spirit also empowers in miraculous ways. Remember when Peter and John just walked by people and their shadow alone healed those they encountered. Stephen was empowered to preach a powerful message while men had stones clenched in their hands and were about to throw them at him. 

While these things are sensational, the Holy Spirit’s task is simply to empower and make a way for us to share Christ in every day life and existence. It is that simple. It is not complicated. Know this that Jesus has a plan for your life and He has promised to be with you so that no matter where He leads you He will be with you. He has imparted to you His Holy Spirit so that you are empowered to do what He calls you to do. 

So what do we do with this. We recognize that Jesus has a plan. We recognize that He has promised to be with us. And He has empowered us to accomplish His task. Let’s go for it. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Moses’ Mom: A Story of Faith and Courage

Peninsula Community Church

May 12, 2019

Exodus 2:1-4 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.

What is the most courageous thing that you have ever done? Perhaps it was to climb a mountain. Maybe it was scuba diving. The sky is the limit as to what you might consider courageous. The interesting thing is that one person’s courageous might be another’s normal. For some it is to do something outside the limits of who you are as a person. Perhaps the most courageous thing you have done was to be a mom to your children or your adopted children. The story before us today is just such a story of courage and faith. 

The story of Moses’ mother is a compelling story of a mother’s love, her trust in God, and her faith in the story that God was writing for her and for her son. She trusted and loved God in the midst of some very difficult situations. To understand this struggle we must see that she lived in a time where Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, had made an edict that all boys born to Hebrew families would be killed. His motivation for murder was out of the fear, that the children of Israel were growing so fast, that if Egypt were to go to war Israel would fight with their enemies.

Under these circumstances we find that Moses was born to two loving parents who knew God and served God graciously and magnificently. Little did they know that this little boy would be a great leader. But the odds were against him. With that said let me make a few observations about this story that will help us when the world seems to be against us as well. While this is a mother’s day message, this applies to everyone who is a passionate follower of Christ. God is for you and will give you the courage you need to face whatever is thrown your way.  

First of all, Moses’ mom was specifically chosen for the task of raising Moses. God purposely placed Moses into her hands. He saw something in her that qualified her for the task. He saw her faith and her trust in God. It is noteworthy that she did not know the story that God was writing. She did not know that he was to be the leader of Israel. She did not know that he would be the deliverer of her people. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that he would be the one that God was going to use in such powerful ways. Think about it. Israel had prayed for 400 years for a deliverer. In this “kairos” moment, Moses was born and he was born to be the answer to Israel’s prayer. 

This morning I want you to know something very special. You have been chosen as the mother of your children. God saw something in you that qualified you for this great task. You may not always feel it nor will you always believe it, but it is true. In fact, you may not always be as successful as you would like, but you have been called to nurture, protect, and disciple those who have been given to you. You are called to be a mother and your children have been chosen by God to be your children.

Secondly, Moses’ mom chose life. She was definitely pro-life. She could have chosen to allow the societal norms and pressures of her day to dictate what she did with Moses. She could have allowed him to be killed at the hand of Pharaoh. This would have been the easy thing to do, but she chose life. Rather than follow the law of man, she followed the law of God. She knew that He would protect them. She knew that He had a plan. Some here, against great odds, have chosen life and that is honorable. For some, the events leading up to the birth of your child may not have been the best, but you chose life and that is commendable and it is to be honored. 

Let me make a side note here. I am aware that some have made the decision to abort a child and you have struggled with that decision but God wants you to know there is grace and forgiveness at the cross. There is hope for you and it begins by forgiving yourself, as God has forgiven you. Too often, we allow the guilt of past decisions to rule our lives in the present. That is not God’s plan for you today. 

Thirdly, in this story her name is omitted. It is interesting that God chose not to reveal her name here. Sometimes we feel that we have lost our identity, but God never forgets us because He calls us by name. Let me ask you “Do you ever feel that you are not recognized for what you do as a mom?” “Do you ever feel that you are just a shadow in your home?” “Do you feel under appreciated?” “Do you feel that you have lost your identity as a person?” 

I do not know if this ever happened to you, but as my kids got older I was no longer Bob Odom, but I was Kate and Joshua’s dad. I lost my identity. But let me remind you that though you feel that you have lost your identity, God knows you and God knows your name. The fact is she had a name and it was Jochebed. The name Jochebed means “Jehovah is glorious.” She lived up to her name as she was trusted Jehovah no matter what the circumstances of life might bring or what the leaders of Egypt required. She trusted in God because He was God.

Fourthly, Moses’ mom had a courageous faith. Even under difficult odds she walked in faith. She trusted God. After all the edict to have the new born males killed had been pronounced before she became pregnant with Moses. When Moses was born, rather than have him killed, she hid him until he was over three months old. Can you imagine the fear and the stress she experienced every day? I am sure that she would worry everyday that the door of her home would be opened and in would walk the Egyptian police to arrest her and to kill her son. Even in her fear, she still trusted God. Her faith in God was stronger than the fear of the edict that had been made.

Finally, she put her faith into action. This is most vividly seen in the steps that she took. After hiding Moses for three months, she took a basket and placed insulation around it so it would be protected from the water and from the effects of the river. She placed Moses into the basket and then she walked to the Nile were she placed the basket in the bulrushes. I am sure that she had tears flowing down her face as she pushed the little ark into the water. 

This was an amazing step of faith in that the river itself was a source of death. There were crocodiles and other animals in or near the water that could easily destroy him. Even today National Geographic reports that 200 plus people are killed every year in the Nile by crocodiles alone. Not only did she worry about the crocodiles but this was also a place where the women of Egypt would come to bathe. This in itself was a threat to Moses because if the wrong person came to the water’s edge Moses could have been killed. 

It is noteworthy that the word used here for the basket is in essence the same word used for Noah’s ark. It was a place of safety and protection. When she pushed the ark into the water, I believe that her faith was revealed more in what she did not do than in what she did. Notice something in this story. When she approached the water she placed the basket into the water and pushed it into the river. As I have read this story one thing stands out to me. No where in the story do we find that she tied a rope to the basket. She released the ark with her son inside into the water but more so into the hands of God. 

This leads me to the final point I would like to make. When we walk in God’s faith and love there is a time where we have to let go and let God control the outcome of our children’s lives. She did not tie a rope to the basket because she trusted God to protect him and keep him safe. Here is the issue, too often as our kids grow we want to hold onto the them and try to control the outcome of their life. But there is a point we have to push the ark into the water and let go. In letting go, we are saying that we trust God fully and completely. This does not mean that we don’t worry. Even Jochebed worried. Jochebed was concerned. We see she had her daughter stand by the river to watch over Moses. But, nonetheless she released Moses into God’s hand. 

We need to know that our children will make mistakes. Too often their mistakes come as they test the boundaries that we have set for them. They test the waters because they want to make the truths they were raised with their truths. Sometimes we will find that our kids will try to do the right thing but they will do it the wrong way. They will fail, but that does not mean that we are failures as parents. That is a lie from the enemy. 

Finally, and most important, God loves your children more than you ever will. This is where trust comes in. We must surrender our children to the God who loves them more than we ever could. That is what Jochebed did. She trusted God. She loved God and she loved Moses. But she had resigned in her heart that God loved Moses more than she ever could. That is why she could push the ark into the water and let go. That is faith. That is courage.

How about you this morning? Do you have enough faith to let go? Do you have enough trust in God to give your children to God? It is not easy but it is right. We can still pray for them. We can still intercede on their behalf but we must let go. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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The Gift of the Second Chance 

Peninsula Community Church 

May 5, 2019

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.”

After the resurrection Jesus had a number of encounters in order to show that He was alive and that the promise of His resurrected life was a reality. We looked at one these encounters last week but we will investigate one more this week. The encounter of Jesus with Peter deserves our consideration because there is much that we can learn from this interaction. 

If you remember the night leading up to the crucifixion and for that matter during the crucifixion  itself Peter could not be found. Peter, the strong willed one, had emphatically stated that he would never deny or reject Christ. He made a promise, but that promise was quickly forgotten. Peter’s heart quickly turned and he fell into the trap of denying Christ, not once but three times. When he denied Jesus the last time, the memory of the words spoken by Jesus came flooding in. “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 

The Scripture says that when the reality of what he had done hit him that he went out and wept bitterly. That is probably one of the saddest verses in the whole Bible. Of all the tears you can cry, bitter tears are the worst. With tears of grief, they at least carry within them the love you have for the person you have lost. But bitter tears? Bitter tears carry shame, humiliation, and deep regret that stings and it stings deep within one’s spirit. I wonder if, for the rest of his life, every time Peter heard a rooster crow it brought him back to that night and he was reminded of how he rejected Christ.

In response to this Peter reverts back to what is common and safe. He goes back to what was comfortable. He goes back to what is familiar. He went back to fishing. He went back to work, because he thought his days as a disciple of Christ were over. You see it is not an unusual thing to revert back to what was rather than what is. I have found that to be true at different times in my life. When we transitioned from the ministry in New York to Virginia, my first inclination was to seek a secular job, or a job where I did not have to be a pastor. I was tired. I was weary. The truth is I was burned out because I had given 100% plus to the ministry. That was and is the way that I operate. I give everything I have to the things that I am involved with. So I thought it would be nice to do something different, but Jesus and I had an encounter, and He would not allow me to to do that. He had a different plan.

While Peter is out doing what is familiar, as the morning dawned, they had not caught any fish. I wonder if Peter, who already felt the failure of denying Christ, is now feeling that he cannot even do a good job at what he was most equipped to do. I question if at this point he was feeling that everything around him was falling a part. When we run away, things usually do not get better they often get worse. Peter was reaching the end of his rope.

It was here that Jesus showed up in the chaos of Peter’s life. Sadly, as with the men on the road to Emmaus, Peter nor the other disciples recognized Him. Even though they did not know Him, He instructs the disciples to put their nets out on the other side. Think about how amazing this is. How could this be? Only a few feet marked the difference. It was the difference between a harvest and an empty net. What made the difference? The difference was that Jesus told them to do it. They were obedient to his command even though they still did not recognize Him as the Christ. When they listened to Him, they hauled in a bunch of fish, 153 to be exact. It was only at this moment that John looked and recognized the Christ who was alive. 

The question for us is how many times do we try to do things in our own strength? We are working hard, but little is accomplished. Maybe there is little honoring of God, but there is a lot of striving by our own hand to accomplish things that only God can do. One reason Jesus did this was so to remind the disciples that they were powerless to accomplish much without Him. Even when we do not recognize Jesus in our circumstances, He still moves on our behalf. 

And then we find that Jesus does the most amazing thing. When the disciples land on the shore Jesus prepares the disciples breakfast. He has a fire going and he has made some bread and fish. He invites them to eat. Recorded here are perhaps the most important words in all of Biblical history. “Come and have breakfast.” The significance of this cannot be overlooked or over estimated. They are a bunch of scared, broken, rejected men, and Jesus does the unimaginable. He invites them to have breakfast with Him. 

The last time they were together for a meal was the Last Supper and it was there that so much had happened. It was there that Peter had emphatically promised that he would never reject Jesus, and yet he did. It is important to notice what is not in the story. The risen Christ does not remind the disciples about their betrayal, their desertion, their denial, or their doubt. Jesus does not ask them to confess their failures. There is no recrimination, no anger, and no resentment. There is only, “Come and have breakfast.” There is only mercy, only nourishment, and an open invitation to a new life. How amazing is that? 

There are times where Jesus scolds the disciples, and challenges them in their walk of faith, but this is not one of those times. You see Jesus knew their heart, and He knew the struggle in them was very real. They did not need condemnation, they needed love. They did not need to be reminded of their past, but a reminder of their future. They knew their past, He knew their future. They needed a vision of what could be and not what was. You see Jesus is all about restoration. He knew if Peter was to play the crucial role in the early church, he would need to be restored. Peter needed to understand that although he had forsaken Christ, Christ had not forsaken him.

Notice in verses 12-13 that after the breakfast Jesus asks Peter a direct question. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” What things was Jesus referring to? He was referring to that which Peter fell back on: fishing, his career, his friends, anything else in his life that became a substitute for following Christ.

It is noteworthy and helpful for us to see the word play that is taking place in this passage. Jesus uses the word AGAPE for love. This is the highest love of the will, love that implies total commitment. Peter who was painfully aware of his disobedience and failure, felt too guilty to claim that type of love. His brash pronouncements were now a thing of the past. He was broken and humbled and fully aware that his actions had precluded him from making such a claim to the highest love. Peter answered by using the word PHILEO, a less lofty term that signifies affection. He also appealed to Jesus’ omniscience, reminding Him, “You know that I love You.” How does Jesus respond to Peter? His response is simply a command to feed His lambs. 

It is noteworthy that three times Jesus asks Paul this poignant question. “Do you love me?” The first two times Jesus uses the word AGAPE. The last time He asks, Jesus uses the word PHILEO. Jesus understands that within Peter there is a brokenness and hesitancy to commit beyond what he can do at this time. Here is the truth for us. Jesus will meet you where you are. He would rather we be honest than make a commitment that we cannot keep. He would rather that we speak truth than have false worship or a false commitment where we will fail and fall short. 

As Andreas Köstenberger (Professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) notes, Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than on Jesus’ enablement.… Likewise, we should soundly distrust self-serving pledges of loyalty today that betray self-reliance rather than a humble awareness of one’s own limitations in acting on one’s best intentions.

So what does all of this mean to us? What is the application to be made in our lives here today? First, there is no failure too big that God cannot redeem. No matter how broken or how much we believe we might have failed, God can and will redeem us. Notice that Jesus went to them and they responded to Jesus’ invitation. 

Second, we can run and hide but we cannot escape the calling of God. No matter where you run, He will find you. It is easy for us to fall back on what is easy and comfortable. Jesus never calls us to be comfortable. He calls us to be obedient and to be responsive to His will. 

Third, God loves us and will meet us where we are. He wants to have breakfast with you. He wants you to pull a chair up to His table and have a meal with Him. This is because He wants to have a relationship with you more than anything else. He does not want you floundering and trying to survive in your power. He wants you to succeed. He is the God of the second chance.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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