“HE REVIVES OUR HEARTS!” John 21:15-19
INTRO – Read an interesting article this past week on the most complicated, multifaceted word in the English language (http://www.rd.com/culture/most-complicated-word-in-english/). It’s the word “run.” For this one little, 3-letter word that begins w/ “R”, there are no fewer than 645 meanings for the verb form alone. This about it:
When you run a fever, for example, those three letters have a very different meaning than when you run a bath to treat it, or when your bathwater subsequently runs over and drenches your cotton bath runner, forcing you to run out to the store and buy a new one. There, you run up a bill of $85 because besides a rug and some cold medicine, you also need some thread to fix the run in your stockings and some tissue for your runny nose and a carton of milk because you’ve run through your supply at home, and all this makes a sense of dread run through your soul because your value-club membership runs out at the end of the month and you’ve already run over your budget on last week’s grocery run when you ran over a nail in the parking lot and now your car won’t even run properly because whatever idiot runs that Wal-Mart apparently lets his custodial staff run amok and you know you’re letting your inner monologue run on and on but, you’d sure do things differently if you ran the world. Maybe you should run for office.
Here’s another use for the word “run”: How many of us have run from God at some point in our lives? All of us have in some way or another. All of us have run our faith aground by giving in to temptation, turning our back on the Lord, & denying Him in a time of testing & trouble. That’s exactly what Peter had done. After boasting about the depth of his commitment to Jesus & the strength of his relationship with Jesus, Peter ran his faith aground when he denied knowing Jesus just as Jesus said he would. He had failed Jesus in a big way. Listen to the way Ray Pritchard describes this fateful moment in Peter’s life:
O how the mighty are fallen. One moment he is cocksure and arrogant. A few hours later a teenage girl brings him down. Under pressure, the bold apostle turned to butter. “Are you one of those men who were with Jesus?” “Jesus! I don’t know him.” “Didn’t I see you with his disciples?” “I don’t know the man.” “Aren’t you a follower of Jesus of Nazareth?” He begins to swear as only a fisherman can swear. “I tell you, I don’t know that man.” In the distance a rooster crowed. Moments later Jesus was brought out from his trial before the high priest Caiaphas. Luke 22:61 says that the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. That’s when the full impact of his sin hit him. Realizing what he had done, Peter went outside and wept bitterly. Two days later Jesus rose from the dead. When the women arrived at the tomb, an angel announced the good news and instructed them to “go, tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). What does that mean—”his disciples and Peter?” Peter’s denial has separated him from the other disciples. No doubt he wondered to himself many times—”What am I now? Am I a traitor or am I a disciple?” (http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/the-comeback-kid-christ-speaks-to-the-problem-of-personal-failure/)
Running from Jesus by denying & failing Him brings some tough consequences:
- We lose intimacy – “…his disciples AND Peter.” Peter lost intimate fellowship w/ other disciples AND w/ Jesus
- We lose joy – David in Ps. 51 – “Restore to me the JOY of my salvation…”
- We lose assurance – The enemy is “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10)
- We lose peace – Isa. 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect PEACE him whose mind is stayed on you.”
But here’s the good news from our Scripture passage for today. These verses are for anyone who has ever failed Jesus & wondered if He could ever use them again. Let’s read them again. Listen up! Jesus is in the revival & restoration business!
Let’s look at this beachside conversation between Jesus & Peter:
Why did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him 3 times? B/c Peter had denied Him 3 times. Jesus wasn’t trying to shame Peter, or just being mean & insensitive. But He was trying to help Peter understand the gravity & the seriousness of his sin.
Way too many people today just laugh at sin, or don’t take it seriously. We are way too nonchalant about sin these days. We work so hard to cover it up, to pretend like it’s not a big deal, to try to minimize the consequences. We don’t want to have to face the sin that’s in our lives, so we just pretend like it’s not a big deal.
Well, it was a big deal to Jesus! He asked Peter these questions publicly b/c Peter had denied Him publicly. He asked Peter if he loved Him more than the other disciples b/c Peter had proudly boasted that he would be more loyal than anyone else. Jesus kept pressing Peter w/ these questions in order to break through Peter’s pride & bring him to a place of humility. Peter had to see the enormity of his sin so that he would understand the immensity of Christ’s forgiveness.
Same is true for us. If we truly desire to experience the work of Christ in our lives, we must see the enormity of our sin so that we can understand the immensity of Christ’s forgiveness. We are great sinners in need of the great forgiveness that only a great Savior can give us! God sent this great Savior into our world & where He lived among us as the “Word made flesh.” He suffered incredibly for us, died on the cross for us, went into the tomb for us, rose again for us, ascended on high for us, is at the right hand of the throne of God right now advocating & interceding for us, sent the Holy Spirit for us, & will one day soon return for us!
This Jesus, our Savior, is ready, willing, & able to work in our lives right now today. We began this sermon w/ a “R” word, so let me conclude it w/ another “R” word: It’s the word REVIVAL. I’m not talking about a series of church services. I’m talking about the work that Jesus did in Peter’s life, & that He wants to do in our lives today. Here is what He is ready, willing, & able to do today for anyone here. When He does His work of revival in our hearts:
HE CONFRONTS US – Most of us try to avoid this. We don’t like confrontations w/ other people. Uncomfortable. Painful sometimes. Brings out truth. Hard, but necessary.
We don’t like it when Jesus confronts us w/ the real condition of our hearts either. Uncomfortable. Painful. Brings out truth. Hard, but necessary.
We become very adept at avoidance maneuvers to try to keep from dealing w/ these confrontations w/ Jesus.
Was talking to friend of mine recently who has been through a difficult divorce. He’s a strong Christian. Really striving to live for the Lord. Trying so hard to reconcile w/ his former wife. But she has hardened her heart to the things of God. Keeps herself busy in lots of different activities w/ her kids, friends, workout buddies. Listens to all sorts of advice from others, but doesn’t want to listen to godly counsel.
We all have done this: Stay busy. Keep moving. Don’t slow down or quiet down. That way you won’t have to deal w/ any confrontation w/ Jesus about your sin.
But let me tell you something. If you belong to Him, if you won’t slow down, HE will bring your life to a screeching halt!
- If you won’t quiet down, HE will eventually shut you up!
- If you keep running from Him, HE will make sure that you eventually run right INTO Him!
So, by His grace, He lovingly confronts you & me today w/ our sin.
HE FORGIVES US – Jesus never confronts us w/ our sin w/out giving us the opportunity to confess our sin to Him & repent of our sin. To confess means to agree w/ God about our sin. We confess to Him that we agree that whatever our sin is, it rebellion against Him, that it breaks His heart, that it breaks our fellowship w/ Him, that it hurts us, hurts others, hurts the Church, hurts the name of Christ, & that we must deal w/ it. Spurgeon: “There is mercy for a sinner, but there is no mercy for the man who will not own himself a sinner.”
To repent of our sin is to turn away from it, to do an about face, to change our minds about it which must lead to a change of course & direction in our life. Necessary part of our spiritual lives, our spiritual growth & maturity. To confess our sin, but stay in our sin shows that we truly haven’t seen the depth of our sin. Confession moves our lips, but repentance moves our hearts & our lives.
HE RESTORES US – Peter had blown it big time 3 times. We all know what happens when you get 3 strikes in a baseball game! And I’m sure there were many who thought that Peter should have been out for good due to his failure.
But not Jesus! He’s in the restoration business. Think about the guys who restore old cars. Take an old bucket of bolts & restore it to mint condition. What was seemingly useless at one time becomes a valuable show car. Was one time rusty & worn out – now a thing of beauty!
Jesus takes our lives when they are nothing but a worn out, rusty, bucket of bolts, & restores them to a valuable thing of beauty for HIS glory! And then…
HE USES US – Peter was one of the most important, if not THE most important person used by the Lord after the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost to preach the Gospel of the risen, living Savior! He became a pastor, preacher, evangelist, missionary, mighty man of God, who was bold in his faith, strong in his convictions, & willing to die for his Lord – which he did. All of this happened in his life after this encounter w/ Jesus that radically changed the direction of his life.
And that’s exactly what Jesus will do in YOU today! We’re not on the beach beside the Sea of Galilee. But the same Jesus who met Peter on that beach is here today to meet YOU to confront you, forgive you, restore you, & use you!