We can collect things through life, things from our past, things that we shouldn't carry anymore. Christ is redemptive. His plan of redemption for you does not include you carrying your past anymore. Your past (or even things in your present) don't disqualify you from ministry or service or living our your purpose in the fullness of Christ. Christ takes our shame on himself so that we no longer have to bear this burden, because He bore it for us once and for all. And if you don't understand this, you don't understand the Gospel.
Redemption: The Message of Reconciliation
Trusting God in Temptation
The Greatness of Christ: Christ's Humility
Good morning, Dallas. Good morning, Fort Worth. One church, two locations. We've been moving all week. I've been staring at the back of a moving truck. I've been packing boxes, unpacking boxes, relocating boxes. It's a great opportunity for community to come over and help you. I just get really frustrated… I don't know why it's so awful. What is so awful? There is something particularly terrible about moving I haven't quite figured out yet.
So we grab these boxes. Some guys are helping me, and we get upstairs. I think the most frustrating part is we're kind of to the end of it. I see the light at the end of the tunnel of packing our house up and putting it on the back of a moving truck, and I get to these boxes. These are real boxes from the Pokluda household. I get to these boxes and realize they haven't been unpacked from the last move five years ago.
My buddy is walking around with his iPhone filming, and I said, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm going to send you in for an episode of Hoarders, man." I'm like, "Come on, bro." He's like, "What is this? You haven't even unpacked this." I was like, "Well, I can't get rid of it. It's not just that I'm a pack rat. These are things I can't get rid of." He's like, "What's in this box?" I'm like, "Those are love letters from the sixth grade, man. You have to hold on to those kinds of things."
He goes, "No, no, no." He goes, "What about this one?" I was like, "That's my arrowhead collection." He was like, "You have an arrowhead collection?" "Yes. Who doesn't?" I'm like, "These are things I need to hold on to." He goes, "No, no, no. Look at me. No, these are things you need to get rid of. You don't need to carry these things with you through life. It's time to say goodbye to these things."
Everyone came in this morning, and you're carrying things with you you need to get rid of. I don't mean material things; I mean things from your past, memories, something you've done, something that happened to you, something that has been paid for. Jesus is that friend who comes to you and looks you in the eyes and says, "Hey, you don't have to carry this anymore. You need to get rid of it. You have to get rid of this." We need friends like that in our lives who tell us, "Hey, there's no point in you going through life carrying this with you."
We're moving through a series (we're coming back to it) called The Character of Christ, where we're looking at both the character of Christ in history and Christ's character and what we can learn from it as we're called to be like him. Week one we talked about the greatness of Christ, which was really his humility and the way he served the world by dying for us. He said, "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many."
Then week two we talked about Christ's character in the midst of temptation and how as fully God and fully man he was able to overcome temptation in the same way we can as we rely on his strength. Today we're going to talk about how Christ is redemptive, how he is forgiving, how he has a plan of redemption for you that does not include you carrying with you something that happened to you in the sixth grade or last week or something you've done or somewhere you've been or some memory you have.
Before we go farther, I want you to know what that is for you. What is that for you? Maybe it's as simple as, "Man, I don't read my Bible. I'm in church this morning, and I just feel like I can't read my Bible. Everybody pretends like they like reading the Bible. I don't like reading the Bible. The pastor says I should pray, but prayer is just weird for me. I just kind of carry that. I don't want to deal with it, so what I do is I just don't pray."
Or maybe it's something you feel is bigger. You think, "Well, I drink too much. I was drunk last night." Or "I smoke. You don't know. I need a smoke break right after this." Maybe for you it's you participated in an abortion. Maybe it's a business failure, either in your past or recently. Maybe you feel like your kids don't act well enough and you're constantly playing this comparison game, comparing yourself to other moms. "Why do they do it so much better than I do?" You carry that shame with you in life.
Maybe it was an adultery that happened or maybe it was an addiction to pornography. Maybe it's something you've exposed and are working through right now or maybe it's something you've never told anyone. Maybe it's an eating disorder. Maybe it's you can't pay rent. Maybe you feel like you failed at ministry. Or maybe it was something that happened to you: abuse, rape, rejection. You feel like you've been forgotten.
I want you to sit there for just a second and think about what is that thing that if you spend too much time thinking about it you get red in the face. If you return back to that memory too long it causes you disgrace. What is it for you? Jesus comes up, looks you in the face, and says, "You don't need to carry that anymore. You need to get rid of that. I paid for that."
We're talking about Jesus' redemptive power this morning, specifically how in our shame he pursues us and in our shame he restores us and in our shame he takes our shame and gives it a purpose. He moves us forward. We're going to be in the book of John this morning, in the very last chapter, John 21. I know earlier in this year we spent a lot of time in John, but this was a chapter we didn't get to cover. It's the very last chapter of John.
John is the oldest apostle, the last one living. He's in his last days, and he wants to write down some thoughts. He has read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and he's like, "You know what? There are some stories these guys have forgotten." The book of John is 92 percent unique from the other Gospels, not in that it contradicts them in any way but it has some additional stories John was a part of, that John was an eyewitness to.
He said, "I want to capture these stories. This is how I recall that happening. Before I die, before I leave this world, I want to make sure it's captured here." So you have John writing down his thoughts. What's interesting about the chapter, John 21, is it sure does seem like John ends his book in chapter 20.
He writes this, the last verse of chapter 20: "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." The end. It's the perfect time to end.
Then as John is writing, he's like, "No, no, no! Wait, wait, wait! I have to tell you one more story. Hey, do you guys remember how Peter denied Jesus three times?" He's sitting there, and Jesus is arrested, and he's warming himself by a fire. A little girl comes up and says, "Hey, hey, hey! You were one of them. You were with him. You're one of his boys." "No, I wasn't. Shut up, little girl. No, I wasn't."
He continues to warm himself by a fire with the very officials who were going to crucify Jesus, and one of them says, "Wait. I recognize you as the Galilean. You speak with an accent. You're one of his boys." "No, I'm not. I'm telling you I'm not!" Then the cousin to the guy whose ear he cut off says, "Hey, man. You cut off my cousin's ear." It says he began to cuss and swear. "No, I didn't. I don't know him!"
The rooster crows, and the Gospels tell us at that point the Lord Jesus locked eyes with Peter as he warmed himself around the fire. You feel the shame. Betrayal is a whole other level, when you turn your back on a dear friend. This event is going to lead to Jesus being tortured and killed, publicly humiliated, and his best bud is right there with the very guys who did it, lying about his relationship with him.
Maybe that's the shame you brought in this morning. At one point in the past you were like, "I don't know Jesus. I'm not a Jesus follower. No, those guys? No, not me." You feel like God can't love you. It has to be how Peter felt. He has denied Jesus three times, and he believes he's disqualified for effective ministry. This happens in verse 3: "'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them…" This is not a "Hey, I'm bored and I want to go fish for fun." He was going out at night.
The last account we have of Peter fishing is when Jesus met him and said, "Hey, come and follow me, and I'm going to make you fishers of people." You can read in your Bible what Peter is saying as, "I'm going back to fishing. I'm no longer good for all of those things Jesus called me to. 'I'm going to give you keys to the kingdom, and what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what's loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.' No more of that. I'm going back to fishing."
"…they said, 'We'll go with you.'" He's with six other disciples. "So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." They fished all night and caught nothing. "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore…" This is the resurrected Jesus. "…but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus." He's 100 yards away. "He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?'" That is a bad translation in the NIV.
It is actually, "My sons, you don't have any fish, do you? Little boys, you don't have any fish, do you?" To which they respond, frustratingly, "No." "He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish." Peter has gone back to fishing, and Jesus finds him and recreates the very moment he called him into relationship with him.
1._ Jesus pursues us in our shame._ You're running from Jesus in your sin and shame, and Jesus pursues you. He comes after you. This is his friend who has denied him. Peter is coping with shame by returning to what he knows best. Maybe you're here this morning and you think, "I'm no longer good for effective ministry." Here is your chapter to read. Jesus finds Peter doing the very thing he called him from. "Hey, you throw down your nets. You follow me, and I'm going to make you fishers of men."
I want to show you something Jesus does that's really beautiful here. It may sound familiar to you because this has happened one other time in Luke 5. Jesus has met Peter and is preaching on the side of the sea, and they're listening. He goes out in a boat and takes Peter with him. After he's done preaching, he says, "Hey, I want you to cast on the other side." Do you know what Peter says? "Master, we've been fishing all night, and we've caught nothing."
Jesus says, "I know. Why don't you do it my way?" He goes, "If you want me to, I will, but I'm telling you, there's no fish in this sea." It says Peter lowered the nets on the other side of the boat, and he caught so many the boat began to sink. Another boat came by, and they began to fill it up with fish, and that boat began to sink. Jesus takes him to the very moment he called him.
He says, "Peter, I have bigger plans for you than this. Don't you remember? Don't get stuck in your shame, thinking, 'I'm no good for effective ministry. I'll never be used by God. I'll just go back to what I know.'" I know that in our shame God feels so far. In that boat, as Peter sat there after rejecting Jesus three times, God must have felt so far. But he's coming toward you.
I remember when I was in college. I always called myself a Christian. I went to a parochial school for nine years and church twice a week most of my life. In college, I'm doing these things I don't want to face God for. It was the first month of college. What that looked like… I went through True Love Waits, the whole deal, and now I've given myself to some girls I don't even know. I'm looking at things I shouldn't look at. I'm drinking too much. I'm engaging in the party scene.
There I am at my campus apartment, and I'm praying, as I always have. I would always say my prayers at night. That looked like, for a good Catholic boy, an "Our Father," a "Hail Mary," and then a "Glory be" and a made-up prayer. So I was doing that. I was saying these things, and all by myself in the twin-sized bed I began weeping, crying, all by myself. God just felt so far. It seemed as though my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling, that no one was listening.
As I reflect back on that now with new eyes, I realize I wanted permission to continue to run from God, and a loving God wasn't going to allow me to do that. He was chasing after me. He was pursuing me, in the same way he's pursuing you right now this morning, in the same way he pursued Peter right here in this text, in this historical account.
So how do you cope with shame? Do you hide it? Does it lead to depression in your life or do you try to show the world it doesn't affect you or do you get stuck in the rut of the sin that got you there and just continue in it and say, "Hey, I do this best, so I'll just keep doing this. This is what I'm good at. This is familiar to me"?
It's just like when someone is abused and as they grow up they become sexually promiscuous because that's what they know. That's what they're comfortable in. Or someone who is sexually promiscuous and stays in that because it's comfortable to them. They realize they're good at it. It's also like the person who says, "You know what? I didn't read my Bible. I don't like reading my Bible. I'm giving up on reading my Bible. Let me just continue in that which is comfortable to me, that pattern I know best. That's what I'll keep doing."
But we don't give up easily on relationships we've invested a lot in. When we've invested a ton of time and resources and energy into a relationship, we're not quick to give up on it. We're willing to fight for it. I'm telling you, Jesus operates the same way, and no one has ever invested as much in a relationship as Jesus has. He literally gave his entire life, dying for you in pursuit of you, so he's not giving up on you that easily. He's pursuing you. That's what saviors do: they save.
I was in Houston on Thursday, and I was talking to this young woman. She came up after the message there. She was 19 years old. I asked her her story, and her eyes welled up with tears. There was a lot of shame there. She had done things that brought her to a place where she had found herself at 19 and homeless, living in her car. As I tried to talk through solutions with her, she said, "I just don't want anybody's help."
I looked her in the eyes and said, "Well, then you're not going to like Jesus, because that's what he does." That's what he's best at. He's a Savior, and saviors save people. They help people. Jesus is best at helping people. So if you don't want help, you don't want Jesus, but if you're flat on your back and you're looking up and you say, "Lord, help me," that's a prayer he loves to hear. He's coming to you and pursuing you.
In Luke 5, when Jesus says, "Peter, lower your net on the other side of the boat" and he does and pulls up two boatfuls of fish, he says, "Lord, get away from me, for I am a sinful man." That's what shame does. Shame always compromises intimacy. Shame always comes between relationships. He sees there's something special about Jesus, and he says, "Get away from me, for I am a sinful man."
But now Jesus is showing up. He's pursuing him. This is that scene in a movie where someone feels like they really hurt someone and that someone comes and says, "Hey, it's going to be okay." So how does Peter respond this time? Verse 7: "Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water."
I know that raises a question. Why did he get dressed to jump in the water? I don't know why he did it, but I know it wouldn't be in here unless he did it, because no one would write that in a fiction tale. "Let me write this obscure thing that he put on his outer garment to swim." Maybe he thought he was going to walk on water. Maybe he thought he was going to run the 100 yards to shore like last time Jesus said, "Get out of the boat."
I don't know what was going through his mind. I don't pretend to know what happened, but I know he got dressed to jump into the water. Don't we feel like we have to get all cleaned up to go to Jesus? Maybe that's what was going on. "Oh, it's the Lord? I'd better cover up. I'd better start looking good, pretend like I have it all together, if it's the Lord."
"The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn."
Now why would he write "153 fish"? I want to tell you why, just as a sidenote. Because there were 153 fish. Because he remembered. Because he's writing details down. People who understand ancient fiction have said there is not a single account of ancient fiction with details like this. Now in modern fiction it's normal to say, "A hundred yards from the shore" and "153 fish." In ancient fiction there is not a single example, they've said, of details like this. John is remembering. "Man, we counted those fish. They were big fish, 153 of them, and the net wasn't even torn."
"Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish." Jesus says, "Come, and let's experience an intimate setting." He's cooking for them. You cook for people you love. You cook for family. You cook for friends. You cook for neighbors. Cooking and sharing a meal with someone is an intimate act. What Jesus is doing is restoring Peter from his shame.
2._ Jesus restores us from shame. The last time Jesus was with these guys before he died… The very last act was a meal. It was something you know as the _Last Supper. He gathered them around and said, "Hey, let's eat together." What happened at that Last Supper is he looked Peter in the eyes and said, "Somebody is going to deny me three times."
"No, no! No, I won't."
"Yes, you will. Before the rooster crows three times you will."
Jesus is recreating this. Do you see? "Hey, come and eat with me. Sit around this fire." But Jesus is not just recreating the Last Supper. Jesus is recreating something a little bit more intimate than that. Do you know where Peter was when he denied Jesus three times? He was around a fire of burning coals.
Nothing weird about that. There are a lot of fires in the Scripture. Genesis to Revelation we see a lot of fires. But there are only two accounts that we see this kind of fire. The Greek word is anthrakia. It only shows up in the Bible two times, once here and the other time is John 18:18. It is the very fire Peter warmed himself around. He sat there with the government officials.
Jesus created the same fire. He says, "Hey, I know the details of your shame, for I am God. I know everything you've done, Peter, for I am God. I want to share a meal with you again. I want to restore you." He knows everything you've done. He knows the details of your thoughts, your insecurities, the comparison game you play. He knows what happened in Mexico. What happened in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas with Jesus. He knows about it, the details of it.
He knows about those insecurities. He knows about those wicked thoughts. He knows about the thoughts you have of him, even. He knows the desires of your heart. He knows them better than you do, and he accepts you more than you could ever think possible. See, he's not ignorant to your sin. His forgiveness is not just one of ignorance to sin, like he turns away and says, "I'm going to pretend like that doesn't happen," like a naïve parent.
No. He's like, "I know exactly what happened. In fact, I know better than you do what happened. I know why it happened, and before you were created I knew it was going to happen. I love you so much, and I accept you and I forgive you. In fact, it's my job description. I know what happened there because I had to pay for it. I had to carry that so you can stop carrying that." That's what he's saying.
I don't know why we try to hide things from God. It's ridiculous. I have a 20-month-old at home, and it makes meals interesting. He sometimes does ridiculous things, like takes a mouth full of food and then spits it out everywhere, which makes me really angry. Typically what happens or how that has gone down in the past is he does it and I raise my voice. "Weston, no!" Then what he does is he grabs the side of the table and puts his head under it and hides.
I'm like, "What are you, an ostrich? Do you think I don't see you, Weston?" That's like us with God. We think we're hiding from him. It's ridiculous. You're not hiding anything from God. He's in the room with you, with that computer. He knows that website. He knows that woman. He knows that man. He knows that thing that happened in high school you thought you'd never tell anyone.
He knows what you feel when you look in the mirror. He knows what you feel when you look at them and wish you had that. He knows better than you could ever imagine and accepts you more than you ever thought possible. That's what he does. That in and of itself is a supernatural act of God that only God can do in the way he does it. Your shame, guys, is a misunderstanding of the gospel.
Brené Brown, who's a self-proclaimed expert on the topic, has written several books on shame and vulnerability and has given one of the most watched TED talks of all time. She said that guilt says, "I made a mistake" and shame says, "I am a mistake." I'm here to tell you Jesus paid for the mistake. I really want you to understand this. Let me tell this story.
This past week we were eating dinner with a couple of other families. Weston is there, and Weston's threshold at the table in a restaurant is about 37 seconds. We had been there about an hour, which is about 60 minutes too long. So I grab him and take him outside. I'm walking him around. He loves to see trucks and Jeeps. He's just all boy. He's looking around at trucks and Jeeps.
When we go back inside, I see the check has come. The bill has come. So I grab my credit card and throw it on there, and then I realize it's actually a credit card receipt that has come back with a pen in it. The guy I'm with says, "I already got it. I paid for it." Immediately you feel like, "Oh no, no, no! You can't do that. Here, here." I'm grabbing the server, like he's going to come back and void that out. I'm like, "No, take mine."
He's like, "He already got it, bud." I'm like, "Okay." So then I grab some cash. I'm like, "Here. Here's for our part," and I'm giving him cash. He's like, "Bro, I've got it." "Okay, okay. Well, at least let me get the tip. How much is the tip?" At this point he says it was kind of awkward. He says, "Hey, what's your problem?" He goes, "Do you not understand it's been paid for? I got it." Whoa. All right.
That's what you need to hear this morning. Jesus is looking at you and saying, "Hey, what's your problem? Do you not understand it's been paid for? I got it." Do you guys know what happened between Peter's denial and this little campfire session? Do you know what happened right in between there? I'm a real visual person, so I want to show you what happened in case you've forgotten. Visuals help me. Let me just remind you what happened. The leaning tower of the cross right here.
He says, "Peter, I paid for it. If you want to keep carrying shame around with you, then you don't understand the gospel which says he paid for it. You don't have to. You can fold up those boxes and give them away. I paid for it. I covered it. It's done. That's what I do. That's my job description, Peter. You don't have to go back to the things you know. You don't have to go back to fishing. I've called you to more than that, and I paid for it, Peter."
If you're here and you're carrying shame with you, we'd love to help. We'd love to walk beside you in that and talk with you in that. I think as you expose whatever you did you're going to feel a love and acceptance you didn't anticipate. I'm well aware of the lies of the Enemy. I don't care what you've done. I don't care if you murdered someone in the parking lot. (Let us know if you did.) I don't care what you've done. He paid for what you did. Three times Peter denied Jesus, so three times Jesus asks him a question.
"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?'
He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him…" Those very words he said to him earlier by a sea when he was holding fishing nets. "…'Follow me!'"
3._ Jesus replaces shame with purpose._ How you hear Jesus in this text will say a lot of what you think about Jesus. Is he rubbing Peter's face in that three-time denial? Is that what's going on here? Is he like, "Hey, do you love me, Peter?" "Yeah, Jesus." "Oh yeah? Then what was that? Remember the last time you were around a little fire, Peter? Remember what you did, Peter? I looked at you. I saw your eyes. Oh, you want to pretend like you don't know me, huh? It's like that. We're not boys, huh?"
Is that how you hear Jesus? That's not what he's doing. Do you see what he's doing? He's saying, "Hey, do you love me? Then let's look forward. Because when we look back, Peter, this is all we see. When you look backward, all I need you to see is the cross, but let's look forward, because I have a purpose for you, Peter. You're not ruined for ministry, Watermark. You're not ruined for ministry, friend. I have something I want to accomplish through you. There's something I want to do through you. I want to use you. So let's look forward.
What I want you to do is feed my lambs, Peter. There are going to be these little people in the church who need to grow up in the church, and I need you to feed them the very truths you've heard me speak of. If you love me, Peter, then I want you to take care of my sheep. Sheep are natural victims. All they can do is fall over and get eaten, and they need a shepherd, Peter. You're that shepherd, Peter. I want you to take care of my sheep, and I want you to feed even them, those who have grown in the faith. Keep letting them digest my Word and grow further in the faith. Peter, this is your mission. You have a purpose, Peter."
You have a purpose too. If you keep carrying your shame, you're going to miss your purpose. If you keep packing that baggage, you're going to miss out on what God has really called you to do. Can you imagine with me for a second if we all left here and said, "I'm not going to carry that shame anymore. In fact, what I'm going to do is use that very shameful act to glorify God by exposing it and then ministering through it."
I see it all the time. Guys who have experienced some sort of business failure. They feel like they're completely rejected, and then they bump into somebody who has experienced that same sort of failure, and they're able to minister to them in a very unique way with empathy. "I understand. I've been there." Girls who had abortions who swore they'd never tell anybody, and then one day they utter the words through many tears, "I had an abortion," and God takes that truth and builds around them an abortion ministry.
I'm reminded of the words of my friend Carol Everett who had abortion clinics and then trusted Christ. People said, "How do you sleep at night?" and she said, "Well, Jesus either died for all of it or none of it, and I choose to believe he died for all of it because the Bible tells me so." I've seen people who have committed adultery who feel like they're ruined for ministry, and they bring it to the light, and God surrounds them with a marriage ministry and says, "Hey, minister through your story."
People who have experienced divorce who feel like the church has turned their back on them, and God says, "No, you're not forgotten. I still love you." Eating disorders used to minister to those with eating disorders. Alcoholics recovered, and then they go back and are able to empathize with others. Brené Brown in her talk says there's one thing that kills shame. If you have shame in a petri dish and add this to it, it kills it. It's the powerful two words of "Me too." "I understand."
Jesus looks at us and says, "Me too. Not in the fact that I'm a sinner but in the fact that I became all sinners in a moment to pay for all sins. Me too." I don't know if Brené is a believer, but I would say the thing that kills shame is the cross. It's the gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ. That's what kills shame. So Peter is no longer defined by his failure. He wrote two amazing books in the Bible that we read that encourage the persecuted church.
Can you imagine how different the church would be if Peter just remained a fisherman? The church was built on this man taking that baton and running with it, him and his boys, Paul and others, ultimately dying for his faith in the way Jesus tells him is going to happen right here. "You're going to die like me, Peter." Peter said earlier, "Hey, I will if you want me to." He said that earlier in Matthew.
"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them." That's John. "When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You…'""You, Peter. This is about you and me right now. You must follow me. Stop comparing yourself to others and you follow me." Jesus had a purpose for Peter, and that purpose was different than the purpose he had for John.
Jesus has a purpose for you. Can you imagine with me how different the church would look, not if Peter hadn't dealt with shame but if you did deal with yours? How different would the church look if you carried that forward and used it effectively for ministry and making Jesus famous? This entire passage can be summed up in another one that is one of my favorites. It's 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. It just says this. These are really powerful words.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has one, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them." You need to hear that again. He's not counting your sins against you. "And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." That we would take what we've done and use it.
People who forgot to read their Bible, forgot to pray, start reading their Bible and start praying, and they go on to teach others to read their Bible and how to pray. Todd is so encouraging to me. I feel it sometimes. It's uncomfortable the way he will celebrate the work God has done in my life. It's God, because I'm telling you, most often the only credential I feel I have is the fact that I'm a sinner, that I have royally messed my life up as I look backward.
But it's all good, because the only credential I need to come to Jesus is to be a sinner. That's all I have to do for Jesus to accept me. The only thing I must do to be saved by Jesus is be a sinner and acknowledge he died for it, that he defeated death, that he paid the price for what I did. So in summary, Jesus pursues you in shame, Jesus restores you from shame, and Jesus replaces shame with purpose.
Peter's shame took him a whole different direction. Shame can take you awful places. Undealt with shame can take you to some terrible places. When I was 11 years old, I woke up early for a basketball tournament. It was about 5:30 in the morning. I was the last one of my siblings at home, so it was just my parents and me living there. My youngest sister, next to me, was off at college. The house was quiet and still.
All of my siblings are half, which means my parents were married before, divorced, remarried, and had me. His, hers, and ours situation. So they have siblings I'm not related to. I'm sitting there on the couch in this awful basketball uniform. I remember the shorts were about this short, which was really uncomfortable. I was reflecting on that. Lamenting on that, better said. As I sat there, the door opened, and my sister walked in at 5:30 in the morning.
I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "Well, you know my stepbrother." I said, "Yeah." She said, "He died last night." I said, "How?" He was just a little older than me. The story goes he had been drinking that Friday night and hit a man on a motorcycle. He saw a lifeless body, so he went home and took his life. The man actually was not dead; he was just unconscious. He ended up living. But my sister's stepbrother went home, got in his truck with a pistol, and took his life.
Do you know what I thought when I was 11 years old? Honestly, I remember my thoughts. I thought, "I get it. I understand why he did that." Who wants to carry that through life with them? He thought he killed a man. He had been drinking. Who wants to carry that with them through life? Jesus says you don't have to! He says you don't have to carry that through life.
He says, "I died for that. Come to me, and I will take your burdens. You don't have to be heavy-laden anymore. That's what I did. I gave you life. I know you're a sinner. I know you've done awful things. I know you find identity in business or parenting or whatever. That's why I came, man. That's why I'm here. Peter, I'm going to use you. Bring that awful stuff to me. Stop letting it identify you and make you who you are, and you follow me. I will make you fishers of people."
You're all fishers of people. I'm going to pray that as you leave here and this song is sung and we sing it together corporately we would reflect on how we can bring him our shame and that he can use us and we would be fishers of people.
Father in heaven, we do praise you as God, one true God, one and only God. You tell us we don't have to carry this stuff with us anymore. He died for it. You died for it. Shame doesn't have to mark our lives anymore. You paid for it. Thank you so much for your example in Jesus Christ, that you can empathize with us, that you can say, "Me too," that you walked this earth in flesh, that you put on flesh and lived here in this broken world we live in.
We feel like no one understands, but we have a God who understands. Father, as we sing this, I pray you would receive glory from not only our voices but us checking our shame, us checking it in at the cross. Father, we love you and we praise you. It's in Jesus' name, amen.
I can think of no greater way to end than to read the last verse of this chapter. It says, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." The reason is they're still being written. Since the beginning of the beginning until the end of the end Jesus is still at work. The difference is now he walks on this earth through you and me.
He has made our bodies his home. We are his hands and feet. He is the head of this place. So as you flood out of here, I pray you would take your shameful deeds and display them through the freedom you have in Christ and say, "This is no longer what owns me. The cross owns me. Jesus owns me. So now I have been given purpose through my shameful deeds because I'm a new creation. I no longer live, but it's Christ who lives in me."
I pray that's what would mark us today as we leave this place. If that happened, I am certain this city would be changed today. So I pray you would do that. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know through the Watermark News, or there will be a team of folks up here who would love to meet you and pray with you. We'd love to do that. You guys have a great week of worship.