We’re wrapping up our series on hope with the third and final part of God of the Sunrise. Pastor Eric brings a phenomenal message about Jesus restoring Peter after failure–this was a word in season for us all! Throughout this series, we’ve been talking about the big idea of hope and we’re reminded that no matter what we face, no matter how dark the night may seem, the sun will always rise because He is the God of the Sunrise, the God of hope.
Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Why I Think You’re Running, we’re learning about the ways we can find hope even in the midst of our own failure. We’re exploring how we deal with failure in our own lives and discovering how to find hope even in that place of defeat.
We’re diving into a story in the New Testament that involves Jesus and also has quite a bit to do with Peter. This story takes place after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, which is also after Peter denied Jesus three times. We’ll pick apart this story piece by piece and discover 3 things Jesus does to free us from our failure and draw us back to Him.
John 21:1-14 (NLT) 1Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. 4At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
6Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. 7Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
Oftentimes, in our journey as Christians, the thing that can cause more damage to our hope than anything else is dealing with our own failure. Once we hit a stumbling block and fall into a moment or even a season of failure–making the wrong decisions or doing and saying things we’re not proud of–the result becomes shame, embarrassment, despondency, or discouragement. In this place of failure, we start running away, not knowing how to come back from the bad decisions and wrong choices.
We run away from our failures and our mistakes. Sometimes we even run away from our community and from church and worst of all, from God. Running away can prove fatal to our Christian journey. There’s good news for us today! Failure does not have to be fatal. We can know and encounter the God of the sunrise even in the midst of our failure, even when we let ourselves down. There’s no one in the bible who exemplifies this truth more than Peter. Pastor Eric shares background about Peter’s history with Jesus in Why I Think You’re Running and we see part of his story unfold in Matthew 26:
Matthew 26:69-75 (NIV) 69Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”And he went outside and wept bitterly.
This story highlights Peter’s failures compounding and in response, his running away instead of being at Jesus’ crucifixion. Like we would in that situation, Peter begins to feel the sting of shame and embarrassment. This sense of failure we’ve all experienced can cause us to turn on ourselves and doubt our worth and our ability. We may not even know how to talk to God in these moments. It feels so fatal! But we get to experience the same good news Peter did; we can encounter the God of the sunrise, the God of hope.
In Peter’s place of failure, he runs to the boat…the very same spot where Jesus found Peter for the first time. Like we see in the next verse, misery loves company! In moments of failure, we run back to what’s familiar–we run to the boat that Jesus has already called us out of.
John 21:3 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
Here’s the key: Our failure does not have to be fatal unless we go back to what’s familiar and choose to stay there.
We must step out of our old boats–mindsets that don’t serve us and shameful patterns of thinking. God is calling us out of our boats and into His loving arms! He will set us back on the course that he intended for us all along. What do we do with failure? We run to Jesus! Just like He did for Peter, Jesus will restore us. We’re taking a look at the 3 things Jesus does to free us from our failure and draw us back to Him.
What felt like a failure to you that Jesus turned to use for His good?
For Peter, his boat was a familiar place in his state of guilt and shame. What is your boat?
How does hiding in familiarity trap you in fatal failure?
John 21:4-5 (NLT) 4At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
Peter and his friends, the disciples, were out on the boat all night, toiling away. Guess who comes in the morning, right at dawn? Jesus–the God of the sunrise, of course! Just like Jesus did for Peter, He also pursues us and seeks us even when we're running and hiding. Jesus calls out to us, regardless of our failures, He finds us and draws us back to Himself.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) 22The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Everytime we see a sunrise, we can know for certain His love for us, His grace toward us, His mercy toward us is renewed and available. We have a friend in Jesus because His intentions toward us are for good! Even when we feel like we deserve shame and condemnation for our faults and failures, our God pursues us, finds us, and loves us.
John 21:6-7 (NLT) 6Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. 7Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
At this point, Jesus is the resurrected Savior and is all-knowing. Yet He remains gracious. How often does God challenge us when we’re boats of shame and ask us, “How’s that working for you?” He waits for us with grace and favor and love for us, in pursuit of us. He calls us out of our shame and our guilt and into His identity for us where we’re no longer defined by our failures.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This verse reminds us that while Jesus will always pursue us, it is still our job to respond. Our response is repentance. Jesus stands at the shores of our lives and loves for us to swim back to Him. But that decision is our responsibility. We repent and make the decision to come back to Jesus.
In our moments of failure, Jesus loves to remind us of His past faithfulness. He pursues us and reminds us of how consistently good to us He has been. He helps us to see His loving nature and in every season, He reminds us failure is not fatal because He is faithful. Amen!
Think about a time when you felt consumed by guilt and shame. How did Jesus’ pursuit of you draw you back into His grace?
What does Jesus’ faithfulness despite our failures say about His character?
How does that speak to our worth as His children?
John 21:9-12 (NLT) 9When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. 10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
What an example Jesus sets for us here! When people fail us, we often belittle them, yell at them, or give them the cold shoulder. We try to teach them a lesson and maybe even make them feel even more shame and embarrassment. Not Jesus! He did not allow Peter’s failures to define him.
Jesus calls to us; He loves to redeem things that were broken. Not only is Jesus the glorious, powerful Almighty sitting at the right hand of God, He is also the all-powerful one who has the ability to heal and do miracles, He is also the Jesus who wants to have breakfast with us and restore and redeem us. We’ve got to shift our perspective of who Jesus is! He is the one who turns our moments of failure back for good.
Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Redemption is a multi-faceted word in the Bible, but at its core, it speaks to the idea of someone paying the ransom for someone else who was in chains and needed to be released from their circumstances. We are those people, in desperate need of the redemption of Jesus! He has paid the ransom for our lives.
Despite our best attempts at perfection and our efforts to avoid failures, He redeems us in our sin, past, present and future. It’s our job to receive our redemption in Him. Amen!
How does Jesus redeem us in ways we cannot save ourselves?
How is redemption different from forgiveness?
John 21:15-17 (NLT) 15After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Some scholars think that when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”, that He was actually pointing to the 153 fish they just caught. In Peter’s moment of failure, he ran to the boat. Jesus is asking Peter whether or not he loves Him more than the past, more than the results of Jesus’ pursuit and Peter’s redemption.
In response to Peter’s admission of love for Him, Jesus responds with a call to action. In these responses, Jesus is restoring Peter back to his calling, back to his purpose. Jesus shows us that our lives, like Peter’s, are not just about our failures. Jesus doesn't focus on our sin, he focuses on the bigger implications of our calling and His will for our lives.
Jesus speaks a message of purpose into our hearts and directs us away from our shame and guilt and failure and toward restoration in Him. Like Peter, Jesus does these three things for us, too: He pursues us, He redeems us, and He restores us. Praise the Lord!
Lord, we love you. As we open your word, help us to tune into your heart, God. Thank you for giving us your Word filled with all the power. Lord, you deserve all the glory and we ask that, as we come around your word, please challenge us and convict us where needed. We’re so thankful for your guidance, your teaching, and your abundant love. It’s in Jesus’ holy name that we pray, Amen!