John 21:1-25

 

“After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias [Galilee]; and on this wise shewed he himself.  There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.  Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a-fishing.  They say unto him, We also go with thee.  They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.  But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat?  They answered him, No.  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.  They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.  Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.  And the other disciples came in a little ship (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits [300 feet, a football field’s length]) dragging the net with fishes.  As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.  [Nice men’s breakfast & Bible study with the Lord, imagine that!]  Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.  Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.  And now none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.  Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.  This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.  So when they  had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.  Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou was young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shalt gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.  Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  follow thou me.  Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.  And there are also many  other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.  Amen.”

 

“Good morning.  You know, it’s always, and I say this in truth, this isn’t to be kind, but it’s always great to be here.  In fact, when I landed at Logan on Friday evening, maybe it was partly due to the fact that it was two-and-a-half days to get here, two-and-a-half days of traveling, but when I landed in Logan I was so thankful to be here.  And I was really thankful to see my wife, there is something about being apart, isn’t there?  I think my wife is really good looking [laughter], and it was great to see her, and it was great to see my kids waiting for me there outside of the customs there at the terminal.  And then it’s great to be with you guys, and just to be part of what God is doing.  Because the Lord has called me to be here.  It’s just sweet to be here.  But you know, at the same time, my heart is sad, because there’s a brother that’s not here with us.  And there’s always that desire that, I guess it’s a selfish desire, especially when it’s a Christian brother, there’s a desire to see him here this morning, and that is Joe Robinson.  And I wish I could especially go  out of my way to say Hi to him this morning, but we’re not able to do that, because he is with the Lord today in heaven [awaiting the resurrection to immortality, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56.]  And a few days ago, it happened to be a part of my trip where I was out in the very distant places, very busy and not able to get to phones, but it happened to be then the Lord decided to take Joe Robinson home.  [He died quietly in his sleep of heart failure.]  So that saddens my heart too.  But you know, I guess it’s a selfish thing, because he’s in a great place.   And it would only be selfish if we could bring him back here, because he does not want to come back here, I can guarantee it’s nice here in our congregation in this town, but he has no desire to be here.  But I’d like to take the opportunity this morning to pray for the Robinson family, and I know I haven’t been able to speak with you guys, and my heart goes out to you, that is for sure, and I’ve been praying for you.  But let’s join as a body, and once again pray for our brothers and sisters, part of the Robinson family.  ‘Lord Jesus, I thank you for this family of believers here at this congregation.  It is certainly a joy and a blessing to be part of what you’re doing here Lord, but also Lord, this is a Sunday morning, and we can’t help but have heavy hearts.  And I know there are even some here especially the wife, sons and daughters, relatives of Joe that have even more so a heavy heart.  But I thank you Lord that you are a God that does comfort, that you are a God that knows what it is to experience the loss of your own Son, he died on the cross.  And you know what hurt, and that pain means, and I ask Lord all the more that you’d pour your comfort upon them, and you’d bless the Robinson family Lord.  In ways I pray during the weeks and months ahead, in ways that they would know you in a way that they’ve never known you before.  And the greatest thing is to know you.  I thank you Lord that Joe is with you.  We know he’s with you.  I thank you we know that, we rest in that, what a great place to be, with you.  I thank you Lord.  I also pray for friends of Joe that are here, some closer than others.  But comfort their hearts, Lord.  Thank you that we can come together and be reminded of your love, and we can be just encouraged in your Word.  As a corporate body this morning, we ask you’d open our eyes all the more to you, that we would see you Lord.  And we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and even myself now, as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’

 

Four Points

 

This morning we are going to finish the Gospel of John.  We’ve had kind of an extended Easter [Resurrection] study, being at the end of the Gospel of John, just coincidently in our study as we go through the Gospel of John.  And then next Sunday is Easter [Resurrection day], we’ll have just a special Easter service as we always do…Well John chapter 21.  This Gospel of John has really ministered to me as we’ve been going through it.  You know, on Thursday, couple days ago, I was in the airport in a city called Gowah, it’s a tourist area in India on the Indian Ocean.  And we had driven all night, the night before, we were in the interior of this particular state of India, we were heading back to Bombay.  And we had driven, and that’s a whole story, and I don’t know if I’ll go there this morning, with a guy who didn’t know how to drive, we had paid to drive us.  [chuckles]  And that’s a whole ‘nuther story.  In fact, he had fallen asleep a couple times, and Bob had to grab the wheel, so the rest of us didn’t sleep, we were hoping to sleep, he slept a little but we didn’t.  [laughter]  But anyway, go figure.  But we were in the city of Gowah, and we just decided we’d go there, get a hotel in the morning, we had to be at the airport at noon, and we would just sleep for two hours.  And then it’s a beautiful place, it’s on the way, and maybe take a half hour to swim in the ocean, which we did for thirty minutes just to freshen up, change up a little bit, get in the salt water in the Indian Ocean, and then go to the airport, and three flights, seven hour layovers, get back to Boston.  Well, we got to the airport at Gowah, and we had a little bit of extra time, so we decided to grab just a quick meal together, and as we sat around eating, we decided, it was because of one of the pastors who was leading the trip, to just share our life verse with each other.  And there was at that time only four of us, a couple had already departed.  The magazine people were still at the place we had been before, a couple others were in Bangalore.  We had departed and gone in different directions the day earlier.  And some are still there even now in India.  But the four of us, four pastors are heading home.  So we decided at our table to share our life verse, and different ones shared different verses God had really used to minister to us, and really give us direction for our lives.  Bob Caldwell, the pastor at Calvary Boise, the leader of the Chapel Missions India that we are with this ministry in India, he shared from Philippians chapter 3, and part of the passage that he shared was his life verse was this verse right here that Paul shares.  Verse 14 of Philippians 3, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  He says “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Tremendous Scripture, many of us are very familiar with it.  Paul has stated certain truths that have inspired many throughout the generations, there’s a passion in his heart, there’s a devotion in his heart that’s clearly seen.  But he has a drive in him to fulfill his calling.  Now he knows that that calling is, as you read the verses there, it includes this call of living a holy life, a life that more and more is conformed to image of Jesus Christ.  But also, as he speaks of his call there, he also knows he has a personal call that God has called him to a specific task.  And that is for him to preach the Gospel, share the Gospel with the Gentiles.  [Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles, and few stop to consider, that most of his evangelism was aimed first at Jews within their synagogues, and then he’d preach to anyone else that was interested after he’d been kicked out of that synagogue there.  Then he’d go on to the next city or town, and go into their synagogue, repeating the whole process over again.  These details and the makeup of the early Church can be found at: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm.]    But he speaks of it in such a way, he says “I press on”, he’s driven.  When I read that verse I think of my younger years when I ran track.  In New Hampshire in the eighth grade, because of the way Dover Junior High was in Dover, New Hampshire, some of us were able to run on the high school track team.  So I had the privilege of being in eighth grade and running on the high school track team.  And the way I grew I had already developed fully at thirteen, fourteen years of age.  I haven’t grown any since then, that is the way I grew, anyway.  So I did fairly well as an eighth grader on a senior high track team.  But there’s one particular event that we were in, it was a meet in I think it was Laconia, one of these invitational meets.  And it turned out that whoever the newspaper was, was there taking shots.  They had a picture, and it was because of this one heat that I was in with the 100-yard dash, that me and another person from another team, it was one of those races that was really close.  In fact, we were stretched out, putting out our chests as much as we could, trying to inch out the other guy to get to that tape first.  And it turns out in this particular race, there was a hundredth of a second between us.  That’s a pretty close race when the time is only a hundredth of a second difference.  But anyway this photographer from a newspaper saw that, took a picture, and that’s the one that ended up in the paper.  My Grandmother, I assume, still has it to this day.  But we’re just stretched out, I had long hair, longer hair you know back then.  Longer hair was cool, not like a hippie, but you know, the Donnie Osmond days anyway, you know, one of those kind of dudes, and hair blowing, and just stretched out, trying to hit that tape first.  And I think in this particular case, the guy was a lot older than I was, he’s the one that inched me out.  But that is the picture, that is the heart that’s stretched out, pressing for the call, to fulfill the call that God has on Paul’s life.  That’s the heart, that’s what he means, that type of just determination to get to the tape first and to win the prize.  That’s the way Paul ran every day, again that was to this life of being conformed into the image of Christ, but also getting the Gospel out to the Gentiles.  I start with that Scripture because as we look at John chapter 21 I can’t help but think of the call, the call of God upon our lives.  And that’s a great verse to start with, and I hope and pray that as we even go through these verses together, that we also would even have a greater passion in our hearts to be faithful to the call of God in our lives.  And this is the basic outline I’d like to use this morning, as we look at John chapter 21.  1), First point, a reluctance to the call.  2), Second point, the reminder of the call.  3), Third point, the renewal of the call.  4), And the fourth point, the personal responsibility to the call.   

 

1. A reluctance to the call

 

So verse 1, “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias.  And in this way he showed himself.  Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two others of his disciples were together.  Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’  They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’---Peter certainly was a leader---They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”  We’ve seen images like this before with the disciples.  I remember my first trip to Israel in 1998, December ’98, I got a picture, because of Scriptures like this, I purposely took the picture, but on the western Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias, I was there one morning, sun is rising, and there was a man fishing, standing in one of these older style fishing boats, had his nets, working his nets.  And he was standing there not far from the shore, so I took a picture, and there’s the Sea of Galilee, there’s a man fishing, very much like these guys are right here.  And sometimes I’ll even look at it and consider that image, and that’s the image here.  There’s seven of the disciples fishing, not far from the shore, the Sea of Galilee.  We have the names of seven of them, at least we can deduce the names of seven of them.  That is Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, and James and John.  Two of them he does not name, he just says “two others.”  So there’s seven of the eleven.  Judas is dead at this point, so seven, there’s only four others that aren’t present at this point.  Now they’re in the area of Galilee, they’re probably there because as you remember, the ladies that saw Jesus on Resurrection Sunday, as they were enroute from the tomb, Jesus appeared to them, and Jesus gave them an instruction and told them to ‘Go tell the disciples, the brethren,” as  recorded in Matthew 28, verse 10, “Go and tell them to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”  So, they’re up at Galilee.  I would assume it’s probably there up at Galilee because they had instructions.  Jesus was going to appear to them at some point while they were there.  Now we know, from verse 14 of this chapter, John says this is the third time that Jesus appears to the disciples.  As you remember, we’ve already seen two appearances.  [Appearances to the disciples in a whole group setting.  If you include all appearance in Judea, there were more, including to separate individuals.]  One on Resurrection Sunday, one eight days later.  So it’s sometime eight days or more after the day of the Resurrection, obviously it’s a few days after that, or a few more.  Although it’s probably not thirty or forty days after.  We know at forty days Jesus ascends to heaven, so it’s before then.  We also note from 1st Corinthians 15 and other places that Jesus appeared to the disciples multiple times.  So this is the third, and there’s more after that.  It’s probably ten, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, something like that, days after the Resurrection, we don’t know for sure.  But we can assume it’s not too, too much time after that.  Well, here the disciples are fishing, we’re told, we don’t know exactly why, but Peter decides to return to this old work of his, he used to be a fisherman [so was James and John, sons of Zebedee].  You remember that.  And the leader he is, the others decide, six others decide to come along with him.  But we should pose the question, we can pose the question, is Peter at this point returning to his old way of life?  He used to be a fisherman.  Now he’s fishing again.  Is he returning to his old way of life?  Is there maybe a hesitation in continuing with his calling of the Lord?  Is there maybe a hesitation?  Is there a hesitation because of his stumbling?  You remember he stumbled.  And maybe there’s a sense of unworthiness, unworthiness to really be a follower, a disciple, you know, a man to go out and herald the Gospel.  ‘I’ve denied Jesus three times.’  Is that maybe why there might be a hesitation?  We don’t know for sure, we don’t want to read too much into the passage.  But Luke chapter 5 is important to mention.  You may remember in Luke 5, this is a very similar story as we have here.  But Jesus is ministering, he’s got a multitude there on the shores, he says to Peter in Luke 5, ‘Go out now’, Peter had fished all night with the disciples and not caught anything, and Jesus says to Peter, ‘Go out and cast your nets’.  Peter says ‘Hey, if you say it, I’ll do it, I don’t understand why,’ if you remember the response Peter has.  He goes out and casts his nets, and he catches so much fish that he has to get help, and they actually load two boats with fish, and the boats we’re told, almost sink.  They almost sink.  Peter comes back into the shore, falls on his knees before Jesus, and says, “I am a sinful man.”  And then Jesus says to him, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will catch men.”  So God clearly calls him to go and now fish after men, not so much this old trade of fishing after fish.  He’s been called now to be an evangelist and to be a leader in the Church.  So, it is possible for some reason, there is a hesitation with Peter at this point.  And he’s going back to an old trade and thinking about that, fishing for fish rather than being faithful to his call.  So, many commentators will actually note that, if you’ve studied this in different books before.  And I’ll start with my first point.  And that is “A reluctance to the call.”   It’s very possible here with Peter.  There’s a reluctance.  Not for sure, but very possible. 

 

Know your calling

 

And with that possibility, I’d like to just bring the reminder to us this morning, of the great importance, great importance for me, great importance for you to understand what our calling is, personally, but also to be faithful to our calling.  For how else will we ever hear the words of Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  How are we going to hear those words, unless we are faithful to our calling?  Right?  How are we going to hear those words, unless we know our calling, and then are faithful to our calling?  And you know that Paul’s desire, his exhortation to us is that we would live in such a way that we would hear those words “Well done, good and faithful servant” some day when we’re with Jesus.  When I was in India these last two weeks, even this last Wednesday I think it was, we went on a twelve hour overnight train ride, it reminded me of the Orient Express, although I’ve never been on that before.  But an old train, just had a sense to it, traveling by night, the group of us, all night long to get to this place, in an area of India where they decided to have the Calvary Chapel Bible College for the students.  So we met there with the students.  And the different pastors were asked for part of a day to just give a little, I guess you could say, just conference or just teaching to these students.  And I decided to exhort the students in Acts chapter 20, and my first point is what I also think of when I study this chapter, is I exhorted the students from Acts 20, “Know what your calling is.”  Paul knew his calling.  And because he knew his calling, he also knew he was being faithful to his calling.  And because of that, he was able to say things like this to the leaders there in Ephesus, he was able to say ‘I know’, he’s getting to the end of his time, ‘that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  God has called me to be a watchman, to get out the Gospel.  I have been faithful, and therefore I know I’m going to stand confidently before God, I’m innocent of the blood of all men.  I’ve been faithful to my calling.’  So I exhorted these students, twenty or so students, to know their calling.  Not to be doing things necessarily because somebody else has said to do it, not to be doing things necessarily when you leave the Bible College because it is your desire, but what is God’s Word to you?  What is his instruction to you?  What is his call on your life?  Know it, you need to know it, it’s so vital, so important.  One of the reasons too, as I exhorted them, is if you know your calling, if you know you’re doing what God has called you to do, you can endure just about anything.  In fact, the Puritans of long ago used to say that ministers would have a season in their life, designed by God, if they were ministering where God would test them in a way unlike any other time.  And the only thing that would get them through that test, would be the call of God on their life.  There’s something very powerful about the call of God in our lives, knowing the calling, it will just drive you and move you through even tribulation and persecution.  And if you ever study Acts 20, that’s what Paul says to the Ephesian elders, is that he had been faithful to the call.  And he had endured all sorts of difficulty.  But he had such a joy in his heart to obey Jesus Christ.  God said go do certain things, and he went to do those.  So, do you know your calling?  What is your calling?  Do you understand that everybody here in this room has got a call from God?  Of course the call includes to be more and more like Jesus.  But there’s also an individual call on your life.  Maybe it’s to do what you’re doing right now.  Maybe it’s something else.  [I spent nearly 25 years learning all I could in the particular church denomination God used to draw me to Jesus, learning all I could, a wealth of Bible knowledge.  Then one day, one of my close friends in that church, as it was going through monumental changes, said to me, “Somebody ought to take all the knowledge of what we have learned here, and spread it around, write it down”, is the jist of what he said to me.  As this website continues to grow, I find myself fulfilling his words to me, and I have learned that he was describing my calling given to me by Jesus.  The training part lasted about 25 to 30 years, and isn’t finished yet.  But I didn’t realize, nor did God show me what my calling was, until the majority of the training was finished.  Others will know sooner than that, that’s for sure.]  But the important thing is that we know what our heavenly calling is.  So do you know it?  What has God called you to do?  And are you doing it?  Are you being faithful to it?  Or are you maybe being reluctant?  It’s often the case, people are reluctant.  God puts a desire, God speaks to a person’s heart, and there’s a reluctance to fulfill that calling.  [You see, in the pastors own words, it is often God who puts “a desire, speaks to a person’s heart” about their calling.]

 

What’s causing your reluctance?

 

And if you are being reluctant, then the question is, why are you being reluctant to God’s call upon your life?  Is it because of fear?  Sometimes it’s because of fear.  Is it because of unworthiness, a sense of unworthiness?  I tell you, if that’s the case, understand that just about anybody that serves the Lord feels unworthy.  I often feel that way, more so than others.  Why am I the one that’s doing this?  I just don’t feel worthy for a moment.  I don’t feel I cut it to be a pastor.  But I find out that that’s common with many other pastors.  And it’s true of just serving the Lord.  How could we ever be worthy of that anyway, to give out the Gospel, to serve the Lord?  Is there reluctance maybe in your life because of a sense of unworthiness?  Peter maybe has that now, but the Lord, man, so graciously deals with that, ministers to his heart.  Or is it because you have a divided heart, that’s so often the case.  God is calling, but there’s other things I’d like to do too.  And those other things will slow you down, and they get in the way, and maybe altogether keep you from serving the Lord and being faithful to your calling.  [The Lord’s not saying don’t get married and have a godly family, that’s not his message, for a godly family and children are becoming so rare in this world, that this is one ministry that is precious in his site.]  But if we’re not faithful to our call, man, we will never hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Those come as you’re faithful to do the things that God has called you to do.  Whatever the reason might be, may the Lord this morning stir in our hearts as we study this chapter, stir in our hearts, as well Paul even says in 1st Corinthians chapter 9, verse 24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize.  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”  Run, have a passion, a devotion, a confidence in your call.  Now these are vital questions for us, and the answers, man, I hope we all can confidently give to these questions. 

 

Is God in what you are doing?

 

Here in verse 3, these men have pursued something, something that I would say that hasn’t been clearly led by the Lord to do.  I think that we can say that safely.  It seemed like a good idea to Peter.  But at that night, it was a good idea to Peter, but it doesn’t seem very enjoyable to me anyway.  All night, on a lake, maybe it’s cold, and you’re not getting any bites.  I tell you, I like to fish, but I have no fun fishing when I don’t get any bites.  It’s just no fun to me.  A little bit of that and I quit, forget it.  If the fish ain’t biting, I ain’t fishing, that’s really a simple rule for me, man.  I want to fish when it works, you know.  And they’re not having any success.  And it’s all night.  And that’s no fun, it wasn’t fruitful, that’s for sure.  But we can say with that, when you are doing you are not called to do, when you’re pursuing something that maybe is the desire of your heart, but it isn’t the Lord’s will, you can be sure it won’t be fruitful.  And often it’s frustrating, there’s a frustration, ‘I’m not where I need to be.  I’m doing something that God isn’t in.  Maybe I’m trying to do it with all my might, but it’s frustrating, it’s not working, and that’s because God’s blessing isn’t on upon it, God’s power isn’t there.  And I see that picture here with the disciples.  Verses 4-6, “When the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore.  Yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’  They answered him, ‘No.’  And he said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’  So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of the fish.”  So, It’s a lot like Luke chapter 5, that time they had struck out, no success, and then Jesus instructed them to do it another way, and there was success, and we see that here.  So the morning is now come, that means they have fished all night long, hours and hours and hours.  They haven’t had any success.  A long, long night, for sure, not any fun.  Reminds me of the last few nights that I’ve had.  Just a few nights ago, I think it was Monday night, we were in what we called the bug motel, there were bugs all through this motel, there were lizards all through this motel, major willies, it was not clean.  I had this little cocoon thing I could sleep in, it was really hot, I had it on anyway.   But multiple times bugs crawled on me, and I tell you what, that keeps you awake at night, when you’re sleeping in the dark, and you feel things crawling on you.  And it happened multiple times, so I did not sleep at all.  It was a long night.  The disciples had a long night.  Tuesday night, was the Orient Express all night on a train, didn’t sleep on that night either, Wednesday night, was this incredible drive to Gowah, all night, we left after dinner, and we drove until the morning.  This guy couldn’t stay awake, so we needed to stay awake.  Not a very pleasurable experience.  And then Thursday night, into Friday, just hours of flying, hours of layover.  So, long nights.  I guess I’m just telling you because I have an appreciation for that point, at this point about what a long night can feel like.  They’ve had one of those long nights, sun has risen, morning time has come, and there’s now an appearance of a man on the shoreline.  He calls out to them, as we see.  But initially they don’t recognize him.  It’s Jesus, he’s not recognized by them.  Now they’ve seen Jesus a couple times, they’ve seen him after the resurrection, you would think they would recognize him at this point.  Why don’t they recognize him?  That happens a number of times in his resurrection appearances.  Why here?  We don’t know again for sure.  But it is very possible, they are a hundred yards, a hundred yards from the shore.  Now from a hundred yards, that isn’t the greatest view of somebody.  But not only that, if it is dawn, and it isn’t completely lit up well, that might help explain it at this point why they don’t.  I think it’s very practical why they don’t completely discern who this man is at this point in time.  Jesus calls out to them, he addresses them, he says ‘Children, children’, now that’s an unusual address for an adult to say to an adult, you know, a grown adult.  I don’t like another adult to call me a child.  He calls them children.  Of course, this is the Lord.  [And Yahweh called the Israelites, the “children” of Israel.  Moses called them that, because in God’s eyes, we’re all his children.  And spiritually, the Israelites were mere children spiritually, not even off mother’s milk in the spiritual sense.]  They should tune in at this point, and maybe things start to stir.  If somebody calls me a child, he’s a unique individual, if he’s also an adult and I’m an adult.  But he says ‘Children, children’.  Now I see in that, children, I see in that the heart of the Lord, and I see it as we go on, there is a certain heart that Jesus has toward them.  Especially there is a tenderness, and I think it’s seen in that word, he’s reaching out to them for certain reasons, addressing them in a certain way.  And maybe it’s because they’re in a situation that isn’t very pleasurable, they’re not necessarily in the place or mode or ministry at the time that they’re supposed to be in. Maybe there is discouragement, you certainly could assume that with Peter, at least a sense of unworthiness. So he says, “Children”, there’s just a tenderness, he begins to minister to them, as we see in these verses that follow.  I see that also in other places of the Scripture, when people aren’t necessarily in the place they’re supposed to be, Jesus, God reaches out to them.  You remember Hagar, Genesis 16, she leaves the home of Sarai and Abraham, things aren’t very comfortable there.  But she needs to remain there.  Out in the wilderness it’s not easy, frustrating, the angel of the Lord appears to her, and very gently gets her back on track, sends her back to be with Abraham and Sarai.  Same type of picture to me.  Also Elijah, remember Elijah, in fear he leaves, he runs because of Jezebel.  And he runs, and he’s so discouraged that he wants to die.  But the angel of the Lord comes again, feeds him, ministers to him, and we’re told for forty days and forty nights he was able to then run in the strength of that angel food cake that he was ministered to there in that story.   [Boy, at my age now, I’d like some of that food!  Fountain of youth food, and it was real!  But it’s recipe is literally out of this world.]  And there’s others, other times.  I just say that.  Maybe you’re here this morning, have been struggling with your calling, struggling with being faithful, struggling wondering, do I even know my call, I don’t really feel worthy, all these issues, and I don’t want you to feel condemned this morning, because God doesn’t condemn you either.  [And like me, God didn’t reveal my calling for years, once he had given me the training I needed.  He’ll let you know, in time.  It’s not like you gotta rush right out and do a study on what your calling should be.  God will reveal it in his good time.]  I believe he comes to you and just says, gently, ‘Come on, consider these things.  Don’t be afraid, and just tune in and listen, I got a plan for your life, and it’s so exciting.’  He comes and says to you ‘My child what is going on?’  ‘My child, how are things working out for you, they’re not very pleasurable?  There’s a reason for that.  You’re not where I want you to be, you’re not going in the direction I want you to go.’ …[tape switchover, some text lost[…One pastor has written, “We are never far from success when we permit Jesus to give the orders.  And we are usually closer to success than we realize.”  So be encouraged if it hasn’t been very fruitful for you.  Maybe it’s just on the other side.  Maybe it’s just a little change the Lord’s going to make in your life.  I always find that encouraging.  Well it’s miserable not to do what you’re called do, or to be doing something you’re not called to do. 

 

It’s powerful when you are doing what God has called you to do

 

But man, it is powerful when you are doing what God has called you to do, it’s exciting to be in God’s flow.  And being with C.M.I., Chapel Missions India in India, there’s just a statement.  Pastor Bob Caldwell, you know, Pastor Bob Caldwell had a heart for India, was traveling to India about 15 years ago, his wife would go also, they even felt that maybe they’d move from Idaho closer to India so that they could get there more readily and minister.  They had a heart and a vision for India, although God told them to remain in Idaho, and that’s because he wanted to plant a big church.  Now they have a church Bob pastors, about 4,000 or so people.  But he had a heart for India.  Well he was in India this one particular time, 13, 14 years ago, and just asking for God’s leading, and don’t you know, while he was in India, a man from India was in Idaho.  And he was wondering what God wanted to do in his life.  And he happened to walk into Calvary Chapel Boise, while Bob was in India.  He was looking for the pastor.  [with the rabbis there is no such thing as coincidence where God is concerned.]  He happened to learn the pastor was in India, where he was from.  Kind of interesting…’Why were you here when I was there? maybe the Lord has something here.’  So they fasted before they actually met.  They talked to each other through other people, and they decided to fast and seek the Lord.  And it was clear that God spoke to their hearts.  But their prayer, God put it on their hearts that God had a work for them to do, and they prayed “God, do what no man can do, so that no man can get the glory to what your great and mighty hand has done.”  And I tell you, being in India, now that they’ve been there ministering for thirteen years, Bob in Idaho, this guy Guna from India.  There is no other explanation but God, God is working.  Seeing hundreds of kids, being ministered to at such an excellent level.  Hearing some of those kids that are grown, that have been in the orphanage ten years or so now wanting to serve Jesus with all their lives.  And some of these kids have some of the saddest stories, just being abandoned, left at one of the local idols or whatever, you know, and just abandoned, or parents dying, seeing both their parents get killed.  And now they’re sold out for Jesus, being ministered to.  To see all the property God has, even a palace, a palace.  And the reason they got it is because the king a hundred years ago that lived there, was just evil, and when he died, nobody else wanted it, they thought that palace must be cursed.  Well the building wasn’t cursed, it was just the wicked heart of the man who owned it.  But they got this beautiful facility, a palace, it was cool, a palace, to be in a palace.  They’ve got kids living in it, bunches of kids, they call them princes and princesses.  They actually live in a palace, and all kinds of property, all kinds of those little cabs, a rickshaw, they’ve got mopeds, they’ve got vans, they’ve got multiple places where orphanages are, they’ve got Bible schools and offices.  And they even have a garden area, five acres outside of Bangalore.  And a couple days before we got there, some wild elephants had actually come in.  This was like being in National Geographic, man, this was wild!  But they had nothing, now they have a staff of hundreds, full-time Indians, part-time Indians, in ministry, and volunteers.  And man, they’ve got twenty-five churches, which was not even the intention.  Churches, we went to churches that are in Muslim communities where all of the converts are Muslim.  We went into low-caste cultures of Hinduism where they’ve come to Christ, which is very rare, to high-caste Indians, entire villages coming to Christ.  We went to one village that was very remote, 90 percent of the people came to Christ, and before, that village, they were sword-carrying people, they were ruthless, they were even hired at times by political people to go and be like hit-men, just a ruthless village, and they’re all Christian today.  And there’s no idols in that community anymore.  In fact, the community, physically, when Jesus moves in, is growing…I mean, you go to Bombay they live on the streets, and they live a certain way, and then they become Christians, now cleanliness is important, a certain lifestyle is important---transforming power of God working, God doing what no man can do, so that no man would get the glory.  That’s fun, man, that’s exciting.  In fact, Bob Caldwell said, he said, “I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world, to pastor like I am, God has called me to be part of this ministry, it is exciting to do what you’re called to do.”  He says, “You know, if I hadn’t been called”, he said “I’d probably just sleeping in my van.”  That’s what he used to do before, he was hippie, just sleep and veg out in his van.  That life, veggin’ out in your van, or living for Jesus in a radical way.  What do you want to do with your life?  Know your calling, be faithful to your calling.  Don’t be reluctant to your calling.  Because God is an infinite God, he wants to use you as an instrument, he wants to work through your life.  There’s nothing more exciting than God working through you and ministering to others.  Because he does infinite and powerful things.  You know, I had the time in India, and of course is so often the case, that you’re on a plane, and you know, right, God has appointed, you might be tired, you might be thinking, ‘I got a book I want to read’, but you know God has placed you on a plane, you’ve got a captive [audience] next to you for however long it is.  And God wants you to share the Gospel, happens every time.  Right?  And it happened every single flight, somebody to share Jesus with.  One guy even asked me.  This is a no-brainer, right?  He actually asked me in our discussion, ‘What does it mean to be born-again?’  [chuckles]  ‘Alright Lord, here we go.’  Right?  Talk about a lead-in, right.  That made it easy.  This last flight coming back from Amsterdam, this lady’s from Holland from the Amsterdam area, we’re sitting together, and she has been through a hard time. In fact, her sister was killed a couple years ago, and her sister’s son.  And her husband whose a merchant marine, recently, last year had a heart attack, and now he’s confined to Portland, Maine, working there, and they don’t see each other very often, so she’s coming from Amsterdam.  And she was going on with, she was in a car accident, all these things, hard things.  And I said to her, God is trying to get your attention, because the greatest thing for you is to know God.  You grew up in a somewhat of a Catholic background, but it was just a background, it was with no intimacy with God.  So she doesn’t even go to church anymore.  So I said, ‘God is getting your attention so that you would draw near to him.’  And then we started to talk about the [Holy] Spirit, the Spirit, you know John 3, you don’t see the Spirit, but you certainly see the evidence of the Spirit.  So I pulled out my camera, I have a digital camera, little screen on the back.  I said, “Check out these pictures.”  This village, they carried swords before, and this guy’s actually doing a tiger-dance, like National Geographic, tiger-dance, he’s all dressed up, he’s dancing as we got there.  And there’s a parade and things.  But I showed here another picture of where the Hindu idols would be, and that platform is completely clean.  They had initially invested a lot of money to make a nice area, as they do all over India for idols, and they stopped.  It just sits there.  Now there’s a church, a Calvary Chapel, there’s a well where they have water now…My point is, you don’t see the Spirit, but God is real, the Spirit of God is real and he moves and he works and changes lives.  So, it’s exciting to follow Jesus.  We see the reluctance to the call, and we’ll pick up now, I’ve got to cruise, right, if we’re going to finish this.    [This website features a tiny Christian orphan home in south India.  The photo’s of the children have just been updated.  If your desire is to help support a Christian orphanage in India, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/sisterchurches/BlessiOrphanHome.htm.]  

 

2. The reminder of the call

 

Verse 7, “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’  Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he had removed it, and he plunged into the sea.”  Just the passion of Peter. You know, John discerns ‘It’s Jesus!’  So man, he’s a big fisherman, and historians say he’s a big guy [Peter].  Kind of a funny scene.  You might have the King James, and it says he’s naked.  He’s not naked, so get that out of your mind [laughter].  Actually the Greek word doesn’t mean he’s naked, just means he’s stripped and prepared for work, so he’s in his loincloth.  He’s taken off his outer garments.  So he puts that on, and this big guy jumps into the water.  And I’m sure he’s not like an Olympic swimmer, you know, he’s a big fisherman, and he swims in.  But this guy’s got a passion, he knows the grace of God, and those two often go together, knowing the grace of God, there’s often a passion for the Lord.  And you remember not too long ago, where he was.  Man this guy is excited about it being Jesus.  Well, in these verses, we then see that now Jesus is going to remind him that he is called, there’s the reluctance, but there’s the reminder.  And the reminder, really is in the fact that Luke 5, ‘Remember, Peter, what happened before, no good fishing, I told you, change your direction, fruitful fishing, and I said you’re called to fish after men.  Remember?’  Well here’s a similar experience.  “Well the other disciples came in a little boat, for they were not far from land, about two hundred cubits [300 feet, or 100 yards, a football field’s length], dragging the net with fish.  Then as soon as they had come to the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have caught.’  Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to the land full of large fish, one-hundred and fifty-three, and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” (verses 8-11)  So they count the fish, 153 big fish.  I’ve seen in the Sea of Galilee and in the Jordan River, huge catfish [Now the Jews wouldn’t eat catfish, since it’s an unclean fish, but they would certainly sell them to the Romans and Gentiles.  But there are other clean varieties in Galilee as well.]  So these are big fish.  “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’  Yet none of the disciples dared ask him ‘Who are you?’ knowing that it was the Lord.  Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.  Now this is the third time Jesus showed himself to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (verses12-14)  Well, Jesus says to them earlier, ‘Do you have any fish?’  Clearly when he asked them, it wasn’t that he needed fish, because when they get there, they drag in the fish-load, but they see Jesus, in verse 9, he’s got a fire going, and there’s fish already on it.  He’s doing this just to teach them a principle, to remind them “Remember before, remember I even told you then, you’re called in a certain way.  And it doesn’t appear right now that you’re doing that.  But that is the calling on your life.’  He’s reminding them of their calling, the importance of being faithful to that calling.  Verses 15-22, “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of Jonas, 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 Jonas, 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 Jonas, do you love me?’  Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’, and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know all things.  You know that I love you.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’  ‘Most assuredly I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you, and carry you where you do not wish.’  This he spoke signifying what death he would glorify God.  And when he had spoken this he said to him, “Follow me.’  So Jesus has prepared a meal, they sit down, and they’ve got all these fish now too.  And they realize, as it says in verse 12, they realize this is Jesus.  They don’t want to mention it to him, they know it’s Jesus.  After the meal now, Jesus turns to Peter, and always a wonderful passage, he turns to Peter and he asks him three questions, three times he asks him “Do you love me, Peter?”  Interesting, he does it three times.  You remember Peter earlier denied Jesus three times.  Here he gets the opportunity, very gently, three times to say “Yes, I love you, yes, I love you”, kind of almost canceling out those three times, ‘Yes, I love you’, just the grace ‘I love you Jesus’, ministering to this man whose got a call on his life. 

 

3. The renewal of the call

 

He has had a reluctance, he’s being reminded of his call.  But here now you see just the renewal, the reconfirmation, ‘You are called, and this is the deal, this is what I want you to do.’  Because Jesus says it explicitly.  First, the question is, “Simon son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?”  Now what does he mean, “More than these?”  Is it ‘Do you love me more than the other disciples?’ when he says “these”, pointing to the other six of them?  That’s a real possibility with Peter.  You remember Peter at one time even boasted that “even if everybody denies you Jesus, I won’t.”  So he kind of put himself up in a category that ‘I love you Jesus more than anybody else does’, basically.  So, now, though a broken man, very different place, Jesus says ‘Do you love me more than these?’  And Peter responds, in a very humble way, ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’  Now what you don’t have in the English, is when Jesus says “love”, he uses the word “agape’”.  That’s the highest form of love, the love of God for us.  The way we are to love God and serve God.  [Agape’ is the kind of love which is an outgoing concern for man and God type of love that has nothing to do with getting anything back in return, an unselfish love.  It is not “brotherly love”, which in the Greek is phileo , a kind of family love, love for family, country, kin, which can be selfish (patriotism is another form of phileo love---and wars have resulted from misplaced patriotism).  Eros, in the Greek is erotic love, sexual love.]  When Peter responds, he uses the word phileo  in the Greek which is a brotherly love, it’s a friendship love.  Jesus says ‘Do you love me with the love of God, the highest unselfish love?’.  Peter responds ‘I love you with a brotherly love.’  There’s a sense of just humility there, man, this guy’s been through, he regrets what he’s done before.  And Jesus so wonderfully re-affirming man, I got my hand on your life now, I got a purpose for your life.’  Well, he asks him that, Peter responds, and then Jesus responds a little further.  But that question is a great question, it could mean the other disciples, do you love me more than these?  Or it could mean, maybe he’s pointing to the fishing [and pointing literally to the fish lying there on the ground, representing the fishing industry he’d been in.]  Do you love me more than your work, your old life?  Do you love me more than these, anything, in general?  And that’s a question Jesus can ask you even now.  Do you love me more than these---whatever it might be?  Anything?  Of course we’re to love God with a supreme love, all our heart, all our soul, that’s what we’re told in the Bible.  So you could actually insert your own name there, it could say Ralph or Sally, “Do you love me more than these?  Is your love for me supreme?  Is there anything else that you love more than me?”  As a Christian [or Messianic Jewish believer in Yeshua] the answer should be ‘I love you more than anything, and you know that Jesus.  Look at the way I live, look at the way I live.’  Well Jesus responds to Peter’s response, he says “Feed my lambs.”  That is to teach the people, you’re a pastor, you’re called to be a pastor, you know I called you to be a pastor.  So there’s a renewal of the call.  ‘Peter, you’re discouraged man, you’re not perfect,  Go and teach the Word of God, go and feed my lambs.’  I told these Bible college students there in India the same thing from Acts 20, Paul exhorts them to teach, the elders in Ephesus, ‘Teach the whole counsel of God”, and that is the goal at Calvary Chapel, to feed, to teach the whole Word [that’s why they teach with this format of the “connective expository sermon” that you’re reading right now].  Well, second time, same question, “Simon son of Jonas, do you love me?”  Same question, although he drops out “more than these”, he drops out that part.  Peter gives the same response.  But then Jesus changes his response that little bit [which the King James doesn’t show], he says “Tend my sheep.”  That is, “to lead my sheep”, or shepherd my sheep.  [To really understand what that means, do buy a copy of Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.  You can order a copy from http://www.christianbook.com .  It’s only 142 pages, but really explains this principle, something all pastors should understand.  Keller’s was both a shepherd of sheep in real life, as well as a lay-pastor.]  In India, as in a lot of countries like that, man, there were sheep all over, flocks like that all over, and shepherds.  And we were watching shepherds and just watching them lead the sheep.  This is to lead and to shepherd.  So, ‘Peter, feed, you’re also a leader, lead, lead the flock.  And of course that’s the call of a pastor, an under-shepherd, to be led by God and to lead then, as God leads.  Well, this third time, he says to him, “Simon son of Jonas, do you love me?”  It says Peter’s heavy hearted.  Each time he says agape’, Jesus, and Peter says phileo.  The third time though Jesus in a sense goes down to Peter’s level and says “brotherly love”, “Do you love me with a brotherly love---phileo?”  He uses the same word, and it hurt Peter’s heart, and he says “You know all things, you know that I love you.”  And he says ‘Feed my sheep, feed my sheep.  You’ve got a call on your life and I want you to be faithful to the call.’  But he reaches down, where he’s at.  Sometimes it’s  sad, God wants us up here, and we’re not there yet, but God will say ‘I’ll meet you right there, help you along there.’  That’s what he’s doing with Peter at this point. 

 

4. Personal responsibility to the call

 

Verses 18-19, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou was young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”  Well then in verse 18, he says ‘You got a call, but understand, one day, Peter, you’re gonna die, in fact, you’re going to be crucified.   People are going to dress you.  You dress yourself, but you’re going to be taken captive, they’re going to dress you, they’re going to lead you where you don’t want to go. They’re going to spread out your hands, meaning he was going to be crucified.  History tells us that Peter was crucified, at least the traditions tell us he was crucified in Rome.  But as you may know, he didn’t want to be crucified like the Lord, so he asked that he be crucified upside down.  But Jesus said, ‘You’re called, but understand, understand what it means.  With the call, to be a leader and a pastor, you’re going to also die a martyrs death for the Gospel, for following me.  Now, you’re telling me I’m called.  That doesn’t seem like it would be very encouraging, to say “You’re called, and you’re also called to die a martyr’s death.”  But I tell you what, Peter has such a desire to serve the Lord, that’s he’s going to go and serve the Lord, and this is only going to prove that he loves his Lord.  ‘Yes, if it costs me my life, I will live for you.’  And so it’s a beautiful thing, really, when Jesus says “You’re going to die for me.”  He says, ‘Yeah, man, I’m gonna go for it.’  And he lives for him.  And that only proves, proves that he loves his Lord.  You know, you think of Job here.  Job said, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him, even so will I defend my own ways before him.”  You know, it was beautiful this last week, to hear those Bible college students, one student who shared that he had lived in one of these orphanages, these Hope Homes, for nine years.  He was now 19, and we had different students share their stories and testimonies, and he got up and he shared, “I’ve been living in the orphanage for nine years, I’m now 19, I want to serve the Lord.”  And he said as it was translated for us, he said, “And I want to die a martyr’s death for Jesus.”  Now that might seem a little zealous.  Although the way it came through, it just was a boy, a young 19-year-old, saying “I want to live for the Lord, I don’t care what the costs are.”  I think it’s beautiful that he said that.  But it’s beautiful, he once was an orphan, and they’ve ministered to him, and now he’s 19 saying “I even want to die for Jesus, if that is God’s will.”  Well, that’s what Jesus is saying is, Peter’s life ahead, difficulty and tribulation, but when you know your call, I tell you, the call will carry you through anything.  That desire, as Paul had, ‘I just want to please Jesus, man, and this is what he wants me to do, so I’m going to go and do it.’  But we need to underline that word, the purpose of the martyr’s death, right, he says “This would be”, verse 19 says, “signifying by what he would glorify God.”  It would ultimately bring glory to God.

 

Don’t worry about what your brother’s been called to do---keep your eyes on your own calling

 

Let’s just finish the chapter together now.  Verses 20-25, “Then Peter turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on his breast at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays you?’  Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’  Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?  You follow me.’  Then this saying went among the brethren, that this disciple would not die.  But Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?’  This is the disciple who testified of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”  So we know that John wrote this Gospel.  “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  Amen.”  Interesting, Peter and John, they got like a little thing going, don’t they.  It’s the sense of competition between these two.  So Peter hears, future, calling, he’s following Jesus now.  He looks back, John is behind him, and he says to Jesus, ‘What about this guy?  Just curious.  What’s your plan for him?  I hope it isn’t much better.’  You know, that’s probably what he’s thinking.  ‘I hope he’s got some difficulty ahead.’  But Jesus says to him, he says “What is that to you?”  ‘Who cares?  I’ve called you, I’ve called him, don’t worry about what he’s called to do.  Don’t worry if I’ve got great things in your eyes in store for him, or not so great.  Get your eyes off that Peter, get your eyes on your call Peter, and just keep ‘em there and be faithful.’  And I tell you, that’s my last point, God says the same to us, is, ‘Don’t worry about what you’re neighbor’s called to do, don’t worry about what you’re friend’s called to do.  Don’t worry about any of that.  Let God be God in their lives.  And if in your eyes it seems more glorious, who cares?  If it seems less glorious, who cares?  There is a call, and it is a personal call.  And that should be the only thing that we care about, is what is God’s calling on Steve’s life?  That’s my only concern is fulfilling that.  And if God calls you to go and pastor a church that has got ten-thousand members, and you start it, and within a week it’s huge, and you’re on TV and whatever, whoopdeedoo.  And if this church is this size and gets smaller, whoopdeedoo.  And if God says “No more church, Steve, just go minister to your family,” whatever it is, my calling is my calling, and God says “that’s what I called you to do”, and just be faithful to that.  And it’s exciting to be in God’s will.  And I shouldn’t get ripped off, and sometimes we do, like Jonah.  You can get looking about other people’s business, and just kind of get bummed out that things are working differently for them, and its not necessarily what you had hoped, or whatever.  Just keep your eyes on yourself. 

 

The old game of telephone, a constant in congregations within the body of Christ

 

You know, that little confusion there, you know, Jesus says, ‘Hey, if I want him to stay alive to the end, what does that mean to you?’  Of course, Jesus didn’t say he was going to do that.  But the interesting thing is, John did live longer than any of the other disciples.  And history tells us that at one point the Romans even boiled John [in oil] in order to kill him, and he lived through it.  So this rumor probably had even a little bit more weight to it.  When they boil a guy in oil, and he’s pretty old, and he doesn’t die.  And then he went to the Isle of Patmos, was exiled there as a result.  But then he finally did die.  And that’s the point John is making, ‘Jesus never said I wasn’t going to die.’  But the story got changed.  You know, I was talking to a few people yesterday, and somebody said, “Is it true, that when you were in India, you led a hundred people in one meeting to the Lord?”  I said, “No.”  [chuckles]  And so that’s just a rumor that got circulated.  So my wife and I were talking, “How did that happen?  How did that story get circulated?”  I’ve only talked to my wife and to Mike.  It’s all I’ve been able to get calls into.  And my wife says, “You know, you did say that you were going to teach on Sunday, called me, early Sunday morning, and told me that you were going to have a service with a thousand people expected.”  It seems that the story made it’s way around, and what became a thousand expected was a hundred accepted.”  [laughter]  That’s what happened.  And you know, that’s funny, but isn’t that how it works?  Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a sermon on John 21:1-25, given somewhere in New England.]