After Jesus' disciples obey his instruction and catch a many fish, he invites them to eat with him on the shore, where he engages Peter about love and calls him to a life of discipleship. Christ has also instructed us to engage the lost, commune with him and live a life of discipleship driven by his love.
The Mandate Men Motivation and Mindset of a Disciple
Well, good morning, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Plano. It's great to be with you all. We are going to finish the book of John today. Open your Bible to John 21. As we do, I want to remind you of the way John 20 ends, because the way John 20 ends, it seems like the book is over, that it ought to stop right there, it ought to be just done.
He tells you, "I'm telling you why I wrote this book. It's so you might believe in the Lord Jesus, and in believing in him that you might find life in his name." That's the reason he said he has recorded every single thing to this point. There's a purpose. Don't miss the purpose of this book. We're not here, even on Sunday morning, to make an information exchange.
The purpose of studying your Bible, the purpose of listening to others teach you the Bible and hopefully expound on it and give you insight, is not so you might increase informationally, but so that it might bring about transformation in your life. John is saying, "The reason I wrote this is so you might see Jesus for who he is."
It reminds me of the story of Tonto and the Lone Ranger. They're out riding along. It's the end of a long day, and so they set up camp. They pitch their tent, and they go to bed. A little later the Lone Ranger is sleeping, and Tonto elbows him. He says, "Kemosabe, what you see?" He opens his eyes. He looks up. He goes, "I see all the stars." Tonto goes, "What's that mean to you, kemosabe?"
He says, "Well, astronomically it means there are planets that move and stars that are fixed, that we're in the galaxy called the Milky Way, and it's vast and impressive. Astrologically it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically it tells me it's about quarter after three in the morning. Meteorologically, that tells me it's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow. Tonto, what do you see? What's it mean to you?" He says, "Well, it means to me somebody stole our tent."
Now look, sometimes we get so lost in the weeds and start talking about everything that we stop focusing on the purpose of the general observation. One of the books I always recommend people read when they're trying to figure out who is Jesus is the gospel of John, because John wrote it. It is not what's called a Synoptic Gospel. It is different than Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Matthew was a gospel primarily written to the Jews. It is why you see the major teaching point in the gospel of Matthew is a little statement: "This happened that it might be fulfilled…" so that the Jewish people would see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the long-expected one. Eleven different times Matthew says, "Do you want to know why this happened? Because prophecy said when the Messiah comes, this would go down."
So you'll see that Matthew, with his eyes… That's what synoptic means, to see. It's the way Matthew saw the life of Christ, and he wrote it specifically to the Jewish people that they might understand who Jesus is.
Mark was the gospel that was written primarily to the Gentiles or to Rome. What is the most valuable thing in a Roman society? They loved power, and they loved privilege. So you'll see a couple of things that show up again and again in Mark. Mark tells tons of stories, but you'll see the word immediately show up again and again. Immediately, because if you're a ruler, a good servant always does exactly what you say when you ask him to do it, right away.
Secondly, a real ruler can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. So you will see the key verse of the gospel of Mark is Mark 10:45. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." The word immediately pops all through Mark.
He is the Good Servant who immediately does what needs to be done for the good of those he loves, specifically for his Father and for those his Father loves. Jesus is not taking orders from anybody. He does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. If you think Caesar has it going on, pay attention to this Servant King.
Then you get to Luke, the gospel primarily written to the Greeks, who were concerned a lot with order and linear thinking. So it's the most historical and the most chronologically exact gospel. Luke goes into great detail. John is writing decades later. The three Synoptics, the three eyewitness accounts of what happened in the life of Christ, are already out there, and yet the Holy Spirit has John write another gospel.
The purpose of this gospel is: "You make sure they understand why all these things happened." It is a theological gospel. John has seven different signs. He is very selective in what he introduces to you. He introduces all these things so you can see who this Jesus is, and so that in seeing him you would realize something radical has happened (something more than your tent being stolen), that you would see the greatness of God and the glory of his Son. That's the gospel of John.
Now what's interesting is even though John rolls up and it seems like it ends, many people think, in fact, that what John did is went back and wrote the prologue (chapter 1, verses 1-18). After he had written the theological treatise, he went back and put the prologue in. Then a little bit later he wrote the epilogue here in John, chapter 21.
What you're going to see that John does is exactly what Matthew, Mark, and Luke do. Every gospel ends the exact same way, and that is telling you, "Once you make a decision, once you've seen what God has done, and once you've seen what Jesus has done, it ought to compel you to act."
If you've been hanging around Watermark very long, you know we talk a lot about what we exist for. It's not for what I'm most passionate about just left to myself. In other words, many people will tell you the job of the church is fourfold. There's an evangelistic job of the church, there's an equipping job of the church, there's a communal and caring job of the church, and then there's a serving part of the church.
Some people say the worship of the church is made up of evangelism, instruction, fellowship, and service. What we've always said since the beginning is, "This isn't my church. We're not going to gravitate to things Todd Wagner loves, because it's not his church." I love lost people. There are two kinds of people I love to hang out with.
The first is people who are radically certain they have no desire to have anything to do with God, because I want to help them see God for who he is and see that God is not looking to rip you off; he's looking to set you free. If you're avoiding God, you've never met him. You have no idea who he is and what he wants from you. He invites you into the blessed life. I love what the Scripture says. "No good thing does he withhold from those who love him."
Most people think the reason they don't want anything to do with God is because God is going to be a cosmic killjoy and keep them from having the life they think they need to have for life to be all they want. God is calling them back and saying, "No, I'll show you where life is." That's what John says in chapter 20. "I wrote this so you might have life in his name." I love spending time with lost people, people who know they're lost and are pretty sure they want nothing to do with God.
I also love to spend time with people who know life could only be found in Christ and want to know more of him. I love to build into people who are faithful, available, and teachable. That's what I always tell guys. When I'm looking for men to spend time with, I say, "If you're fat, I'll put you on a diet." In other words, if you're faithful, available, and teachable (FAT), then I will disciple you, I will invest in you, I will exhort you and encourage you, and I will teach you. I love being with people who have come to understand who this Jesus is, and they want to learn.
I'm not naturally a guy who just wants to have a bunch of fellowship suppers. I kind of want to go out where people are lost. I want to sit down with guys who want to go. I'm not the first guy who wakes up on a Saturday and goes, "Let's go get a service project going." But this isn't my church, and by the way, this is what God says this church should be.
His church should be people who believe in Christ and want to help others believe in Christ, who belong to his body, connect deeply, care for one another, and practice the one-anothers of Scripture, who are then being trained in truth and equipped for the work of service so they might be strong in a life of ministry and worship. Early on when we were sitting down and asking ourselves, "What should Watermark be?" we said it's the place where people believe, belong, be trained, and then be strong in a life of ministry and worship.
What you're going to find is all the Gospels end the same way: "You know who I am? Then you be strong. You be busy together. You continue to abide with me and let my Spirit teach you who I am, and you be busy." It drives me crazy when I hear people go, "Oh, man, you're a do church, not a be church. We just want to be his disciples." Well, let me share something with you. If you are his disciples, you be busy.
We are not a Bible study society. We are not a seminary. We're not a service organization. We're not a benevolence community. Those are some of the things we do, but we are busy in the ministry. Let me show you this. You guys know this somewhat. Matthew 29:19-20, the Great Commission. It's when Jesus just lays out, "Go." This is what he is ending his gospel with.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.""You baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and you teach them…" Watch this. It continues. "…you teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And I will be with you to the end; you'll do it with me." You're going to see how important that is in just a moment. That's not just in the gospel of Matthew.
In the gospel of Mark, in chapter 16, you see the exact same thing. He said this at the very end of Mark: "Go into the world and preach the gospel." In Luke you see it in chapter 24, in verses 44 and following. "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures." That they could see who he was.
"And He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day…'" That's the gospel. "…and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Verse 48: "You are witnesses of these things.""You've seen it. You tell it. Go let them know." All the Gospels end that way. So what happened last week? What happened last week in John, chapter 20, was the exact same thing. Remember? Jesus said this to them at the very end in verse 23.
He said, "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." Now what Jesus is saying right there to them is, "Listen. You know who I am. You know what I went to the cross to do. You know I did it because the wages of sin have been met. So what you get because you're a sinner, which is death, has been eradicated because I paid that debt. Death has lost its sting. Death has lost its victory. You know where men can be forgiven their sins. You go tell people."
Now watch this. The church was never to provide forgiveness. God provides forgiveness. Do you remember what Jesus said when he was here, when he came across some people and he said, "My son, your sins are forgiven."? The Pharisees go, "Well, you can't forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins."
Jesus says, "That is an excellent point. But what's easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to tell a lame man to take up his pallet and walk? So that you might know the Son of Man has the authority in heaven and earth to forgive sins, I'm going to do what only God can do on earth. I'm going to bring regeneration to a lame man's legs. He's lame, unable to do this. No doctor can heal him. So that you might know I can do what only God can do, I'm going to show you what God will do." He's going to reverse the effects of the curse, of the fall.
He said, "Get up and walk." They go, "Now that's impressive. Maybe that guy is who he claims to be." Jesus tells the church, "Don't you ever claim to be God. God is the one who forgives sins." No one needs to come to me to get forgiven of sins. I can't forgive your sins. Watermark can't. Rome can't. No priest and no pastor can forgive your sins. Do you hear me? Only God forgives sins.
What Jesus is saying there in John, chapter 20, is our job is to proclaim where forgiveness can be found. God's job is to provide it. He is saying, "As my witnesses, you proclaim." What you say is going to be the means through which men are forgiven. That's why I said they can't know unless they hear, and they won't hear unless there's a preacher. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John preach.
So why is there a John 21? I'm going to tell you why there's a John 21. Because Jesus is going to now, in a story, tell you what he told you to do in a declaratory way in John, chapter 20. He's going to share it with you in a story, and he's going to bring you back into his intimate love for his men. He's going to teach you this truth another way. In John, chapter 21… Let me just break it out for you. Are you ready? Some of you guys like outlines. I don't do this often. I'm going to give it to you today. All you type-A outline people, rejoice.
Verses 1-6, the mandate. This is who you are. This is what you're supposed to do. Verses 7-14, the men. This is how the men who do the mandate are to get it done. Verses 15-17, the motivation. This is why we do the mandate if we're his men. Then in verses 18-25, the mindset. The mindset that you should go about it. Do you like that? I thought it was all right. It helped me. Let's take a look at…
1._ The mandate._ "So we already told you: he told us the mandate already. 'You go proclaim what I have provided.'" John 21, verse 1: "After these things…" What things? Remind yourself where these guys are. After a pretty tumultuous series of days. After the triumphal entry. After Jesus is called by the people "the one who comes in the name of the Lord." He goes in and he flips over the moneychangers' tables and creates quite a stir. He gets run out of town. He is betrayed by a trusted friend. He is arrested. The number-one disciple betrays him himself and fails him.
He is beaten. He is mocked. He is scourged. He is crucified. He is resurrected. Then he appears to them three different times. We know that in the midst of appearing to them they were told by him to go back to Galilee. "He will see you in Galilee." About 8 days after the resurrection when the Feast of the Passover was largely over, Christ had appeared to them again. Do you remember Thomas had just engaged with the other disciples who had just seen who Jesus was in John 20?
Now they are taking off, and they make their way back where they're from. So what are they going to do? "After these things…" All that I just described. "…Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias…" Another name for the Sea of Galilee. If you go today and look at a map of Israel, you will see that Tiberias is a town there on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It's the most prominent… It's the only major town even to this day around the Sea of Galilee, and so it's sometimes called the Sea of Tiberias.
The Sea of Galilee is there. It's where they are. It's where these guys first met Jesus. We'll find out that Simon Peter; Thomas; Nathanael; James and John, who are the sons of Zebedee; and two other disciples, seven disciples, were all hanging out together. Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing." That's a good thing. That's exactly what he should have done; however, not the way he did it. Right?
What you're going to find here is Peter is still, even though he has seen the risen Lord, even though he has been vindicated in some ways that his belief in this Man was more than belief in a man, he is still shaken. You can imagine he is still shaken. So what he starts to do is revert back to what he used to do.
I said it was a good thing that he goes fishing. Why? Because Jesus told him, "I'm going to let you still be a fisherman, but you're going to be a fisher of men. Instead of making alive fish dead, Peter, I'm going to let you make dead men alive. That's what you're going to do." He calls them. In Luke 5 and Matthew 4, he says, "I'm going to let you be fishers of men."
If Peter had listened to Jesus and to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, if Peter had listened to Jesus just 8 days or more earlier back there in Jerusalem, he said, "I want you to go fishing. You go proclaim that what I said I was going to provide I have provided." What should Peter have been fishing for? Men.
Let me tell you why this is good. If you just think about what fishing is and what we do. This is a great picture of who we are. This is why I said we're not a benevolence society. It's not wrong to be benevolent; we ought to be. That's a part. But if all we do is run charities, we're not doing everything we should do. If all we do is heal wounds and have soup kitchens, we are not being about what we should be about.
That's why you hear me say all the time, "Don't ever get caught up in the random act of kindness crusade," because we don't ever do anything anymore for random purposes. We do everything because of Jesus Christ, crucified, dead, and buried. It informs everything we do. We don't ever do something just to be kind. We do it in the name of Christ, for his glory.
Fishing is a good picture. Why? Because what you're doing is you're pulling men who are in the sea… The sea in the Bible is a picture of the world. Whenever you're on the sea, there are all kinds of currents. There are often crises. There are winds and waves. We are told to not be blown here and there by every wind and wave of the world. We're to be anchored in truth. When you go fishing, you have to get as close to the fish as you can without getting down there with the fish. We are in the world not of it.
We are men who are pulling dead men, if you will, out of the darkness into his marvelous light. We are not their hope. It is that which we go out with that is our hope. We pull them up onto an ark. You got it? We say, "You come out of the judgment that is the world, the darkness that is the world, and let us bring you above this sea and put you on this wooden vessel where there is hope."
That's what Noah… Noah's name means rest. That's what it means. Noah was called a herald of righteousness. He told people, "Look. God is holy. God is true. God is just. Men are wicked, and they follow the winds of error. They will be overcome with waves and destruction, but he has made provision for you. Come and trust in what the prophet of God is calling you to trust in: an ark of wood." Think about that.
It's the same thing we're doing. There is another wooden structure that has been lifted up. If you come to it, come to that cross and trust in it, you will find rest. That's what Jesus said. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.""Because I've done the work of enduring judgment for you." So that's what we do. We call men out of darkness into his marvelous light, and we have them trust in the wooden, if you will, provision of God, this ark of rest Jesus has provided.
We don't ever go into the ocean. We are in the world, but we are not of it. We do all we can to bring men up to the light. You can be sure when you go to do that it's going to be difficult sometimes. It will be a crisis. It will be a tempest, if you will. But we serve the one who calms the wind and the waves. He'll allow you even to walk on the water if you keep your eyes fixed on him, but you are not to go under. You don't save fish by being a fish. You call them up to the light. There's a lot there about fishing.
I want to say this. If you're not fishing, you are not following. This is an old parable that's worth reading right here, because Jesus is going after Simon. What Simon Peter and the rest of the guys do… And this is why leadership always matters. Simon is the leader. There's a lot of discussion about what Simon was doing here or was he, in a sense, betraying his ultimate calling or not. I don't think he was doing what Jesus wanted him to do when he went fishing.
It wasn't like he was just out recreating and thinking. He was trying to get back to a life and kinda do what he could. Even with the beginning of the resurrection before him and the appearances of Christ, I would have to say I think he was busy doing what he shouldn't have been doing and other men were following him. Leadership matters.
I'm going to tell you, in so many churches today the leadership is not actively engaging in fishing. They can't tell you stories about people who they have shared the gospel with or who they've engaged with, that they're proclaiming his excellencies. They're just kinda ministering to the little fishermen's club right here. We all talk about fishing, but nobody really fishes.
One of the reasons you guys love when JP speaks and when I talk about actual encounters I have with people is you love those stories. You love to hear about God still pulling men in darkness up into the light, and you can't believe it. What I'm telling you is I want to equip you to be a fisherman. Too many times in churches, you just have guys who are running fishermen's clubs and they don't fish at all. Let me read you this parable.
"There was a group called the Fishermen's Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes swarming with hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got all excited about fishing! The only problem was they really weren't fishing. One member suggested that they needed a fishing philosophy, so they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics.
Then they realized that they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know. So they began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to faraway places to study different kinds of fish, with different habits. Some got PhDs in Fishology.
They did assessment surveys to see if future fishermen had the competency to fish. They planted new Fishermen Fellowship communities and continued to launch additional campuses. They had droves of weekly small groups made up of fishermen. But still no one had yet gone fishing. So a committee was formed to send out fishermen.
As prospective fishing places outnumbered fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched, to find out why. Most did not answer the survey, but from those that did, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, others to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the fishermen. What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn't have time to fish.
Now, Jake was a newcomer to the Fishermen's Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, he went fishing and caught a large fish. At the next meeting, he told his story, and he was honored for his big catch. He was told that he had a special 'gift of fishing.' He was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it. […]
But soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, he resigned from the board, and he said to a friend, 'Let's go fishing.' They did, just the two of them, and they caught fish. The members of the Fishermen's Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few!"
Can I tell you guys something? I don't know what we're doing here, but if we're not fishing, we are not his church. If you are an individual who this week didn't one time engage somebody far from God, love them, and say, "Do you have any idea what I believe and what I know? Do you know that thing called Easter that just went down? Do you know I believe something happened there that is the pivot point of human history?
Do you know it's the pivot point of my life? It doesn't just change what happens to me at the grave; it's changed everything about my life today." It's not your job to make them bite that. It is your job to throw it out and proclaim and to love and to care, but if you didn't do that, whatever you did this week, you were not following him.
I want to ask you guys a question. Let me start very simply. If every single person who is a member of Watermark, who is a part of this little fellowship… If last week every single person who we prayed would understand the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ and the affirming fact of his resurrection radically responded to the way we prayed for them and became fully-devoted followers of Christ…people who believed, belonged, were being trained, now were being strong this week, and were fully devoted…how many more fully-devoted followers of Christ would there be in this city?
If everybody who we engaged with and said, "Man, tell me, do you have a faith? What's your faith? Can I tell you what I have faith in? Will you come and see? Will you come and hang with us?" if every person we said that to radically began to follow Jesus Christ, how many more people would follow Jesus Christ this week? Gang, if that's not happening…
I'm not asking you to be a master fisherman like you think some other people are. I'm asking you to engage people with this, just the simple question of, "Do you know what the central message of God's Word is?" It's the simple follow-up to, "Hey, do you have a faith? What's your faith? Has anybody ever told you what the central message of the Bible is?" "I don't believe the Bible." Remember I told you last week what to do with that stuff?
"Well, I'm not asking if you believe the Bible is true. There is no question the Bible is the most influential book in history. It was the best seller in the world again last year. Do you know what the central message of the Bible is, because I see you're an intellectual person? If you don't know what the central message is of the most sold, most read, published, translated book in all of history says, that's not very intellectual. I'm not asking if you believe it's true. I'm asking you, 'Do you know what the central message of the Scripture is?'" Then let them take a stab at it.
Then go, "Well, no. That's not exactly right. Can I take 30 seconds and tell you what the central message of the Bible is?" You just throw it out there. "The central of the message of the Bible is that men have left God. God loves men, and so God ran after man, and in his kindness made provision for them that they could be reconciled to him. God is not looking for men to do anything except acknowledge that life without God is not what it should be.
That's why you see sin, error, war, and death in the world. He has made a way for you to come back, and that way is through his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for you that you may live. Has anybody ever told you that before?" That's all we're asking. Then you want to develop it from there. Then you want to live your life like you, in fact, have found something in this Jesus. If we're not fishing, we are not doing what he wants us to do.
Peter had gone back from whence he came, and I want to show you this. It says, "He went out in the boat and caught nothing." When you fish in the Sea of Galilee… In fact, if you go over there today, you'll see they fish at night. They don't fish in the day. During the day there's no one fishing out there. They fish at night or very early in the morning before the break of day.
"They caught nothing." This was not, by the way, because of chance. I want you to see that nothing ever is because of chance. The Lord is always up to something. The Lord was up to them not having success at what they did. I started thinking about this, and I just want to say something to you. If you are having a lot of success going back to what you used to do before you met Christ, that ought to really trouble you.
I'll never forget. I did a funeral of a young woman a number of years ago. Michelle got saved out of an incredibly hard life. She, in every way that a young woman could lose her dignity and beauty, had lost it. She was befriended by a group of us, and she was called out of darkness into his marvelous light. Michelle was on fire and began to really grow for a long time, but if we didn't see Michelle for 2 or 3 weeks, we would go running after her.
One of these times we ran after Michelle, and she never came back. Every now and then she would come back and she would say, "Man, I've gone back to my way of life. I've gone back to these choices. I've gone back to this career. I've gone back to this mindset about myself." She would be so glad when we would remind her of the grace and the goodness of the Savior she trusted in.
One of these times Michelle went away, and we couldn't find her for 3, 4, 6, 7 weeks at a time. Then I got a call from her mom that Michelle died. I'll never forget. I did that funeral, and the church was split. There were Michelle's friends who were part of… I don't want to call it the party life; that makes it sound like it was fun… They were from the part of Michelle's life that brought incredible sadness. Girls she worked with and people she suffered with.
Then there were her friends from the community of faith on this side and then mingled throughout. What I can tell you I heard again and again and again from the people who knew Michelle after she trusted Christ and went back is they said, "You know, you guys ruined Michelle." I go, "What do you mean?"
They said to me, "Ever since Michelle met you guys, when she'd come back… We used to do stuff just because Michelle was doing it. Michelle was a blast. But ever since she met you guys, when she came back, she'd do the exact same things and we saw her try just as hard to get high, try just as hard to party, try just as hard to do her little thing, but she never, ever had that gleam in her eye. She never enjoyed her party again after she met you."
I want to tell you, that gave me a ton of comfort. Our Christian friends, we knew Michelle had moments where she enjoyed intimacy with Christ, but because she wouldn't change all of her playmates and change all of her playground, she never really enjoyed Jesus. This to me was one of the greatest assurances that Michelle really had met Christ.
If you can go back from whence you came and you eat vomit again and it tastes good like it used to when you were a dog, chances are it's because you're still a dog and not a sheep. Sheep don't eat their vomit. Dogs eat their vomit, and they like it. That's what dogs do. Michelle couldn't eat vomit anymore. She'd try and they go, "She was never joyful. It just didn't work." If you can jump back into slop, roll around, and think it's normal, you probably were never transformed to a sheep.
Sheep don't roll around in slop and think it's normal. Pigs return to their slop, roll around, and think it's normal. If you're having success going back from whence you came once you think you have been transformed, there's a real good chance, dog, that you were never transformed. You were just around the one who transforms you. You heard the story about transformation. Jesus is a tale to you. He is not your Teacher. It ought to trouble you if you are fishing and having great success. That's not my idea; that's Scripture.
One of the greatest assurances I have, folks, that I know the Lord… I still struggle, I still sin, I still make choices, but when I do, I don't hate it when I get caught. I don't hate it when it hurts me publicly. I just hate it. I'll never forget, when I first trusted Christ, one of the very first verses I ever memorized was 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17, which says, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new."
I thought, "Well, new things haven't come. I'm still just as lustful, selfish, and prideful as I used to be." What had changed though, in me, was not that my flesh was still all in on those things, but that I no longer wanted to do what my flesh wanted to do. You see, my flesh sometimes wouldn't want to sin before when it would cost me or when I would get caught, but it wanted to do it every chance it got. If I was around people and it didn't matter if I did it and if I was caught doing it because they were doing it with me, I would just do it with reckless abandon and love it.
Now all of a sudden when I really did come to know Christ and I would find my flesh throwing me back into slop, I'd go, "What am I doing here? This is not what I want to do." This is Romans 7, by the way. This is Paul saying, "I'm still conflicted. The very thing I find myself doing, I don't want to do." That's evidence it's changed.
That's what Michelle's friends said to me. "She's having no success fishing in sin for life. Something has changed in her. She knows there's no life here. We kept telling her, 'Michelle, why are you here? Go. You're just miserable.' She would tell us why she was miserable. She goes, 'I'm miserable because I know where life is.'" She would come and go, come and go until God took her home.
The disciples had no success. One of the reasons they had no success is because they were doing it out there in the power of the flesh apart from God. You can draw this analogy out in many different ways. They were supposed to be fishing, and the way they were going to have success in whatever they did is in relationship with Christ. So now you see this happens…
"But when day was now breaking…" Do you get this? Do you see the picture John is creating? A new day had come, folks. Jesus isn't going to be with you all the time physically, but his Spirit is going to be with you. The presence of the Spirit of God in a life was still not fully there with his disciples. Pentecost had not yet happened, but watch this…
"But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, 'Children, you do not have any fish, do you?'" Now look, this is kind of a… They didn't recognize him. Typically what happens is fish traders and fish salesmen would wait for fishermen to come in, and they'd go, "Do you guys have some fish? I'll buy them. I'm going to go sell them." Fishermen wouldn't sell the fish. They would often sell them to people who would sell the fish at the marketplace.
There is this guy and he's saying, "Hey, how's it going? Are you guys good at what you're doing out there? Do you have something for me?" They go, "No, we've got nothing. We've got nothing." So he said to them, "Why don't you cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and I think you'll find something." If you paid any attention to the story up to this point, you know this had happened one other time, that Peter in his area of greatest competence realized Jesus was more still. Remember?
It says that early in the morning Jesus was teaching there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was coming in from fishing all night, had caught nothing. He was putting his nets up. Jesus was teaching. He needed some help. He said, "Peter, I'm getting stuck." So Peter pushed out his boat. Jesus was on the boat with Peter preaching to the people. Peter was probably still folding up his nets. Jesus finished and he said, "Hey, Peter, I know it's morning. I know we don't fish here in the morning, but throw your nets out."
He looked at him and he said, "Hey, Rabbi." He goes, "Look man, you're an excellent teacher, but I'm a fisherman. I just folded these nets. I am tired. I was 0 for the night. I think we just need to go in, let you study, and let me sleep so I can give it a shot tomorrow." He said, "Peter, I'm not just a rabbi. I'm sovereign over the fishes. I am what makes you competent in all things. Fire those nets in."
That's when he threw the net in. It broke the nets. That's when Peter first responded, "Lord, depart from me. I am not worthy." He knew who he was in the presence of right then. Peter said, "I'm a sinner. Get away from me." Now watch what happens this time. What happens this particular time is he threw the net out. There was humility again. There was trust. There was obedience. There was action. That's always what needs to happen. They cast, and "…then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish."
What is the mandate? You do what Jesus tells you to do when he tells you to do it. How are you doing? If you didn't do what Jesus tells you to do when he tells you to do it, which is in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction, I don't know what you are, but you're not following him. Now we're going to look at…
2._ The men._ "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.'" This is John. When he saw what happened, he goes, "That's the Lord!" "So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord…" This is hilarious. "…he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea." I love Peter. He just does things backwards. He doesn't even make sense. It does make sense when you really understand it.
I love Luke 9. They're on the Mount of Transfiguration. It says there, "Peter, not knowing what to say, said…" Peter is always this impulsive guy. John stops and looks in the tomb, but Peter charges in the tomb. Peter, who was naked out there or probably just had a loincloth on (he was fishing, and it was hot), when he saw it was the Lord, he got his clothes, dressed, and just dove in the water. You're going to find out they were about 100 yards off shore. He starts swimming in because he can't wait to see his Master again.
He wasn't happy fishing. He just very wearily had lost heart. We all lose heart. That's why we need to be encouraging. Those other six guys who were with Peter should have said, "Peter, let's not go fishing, man. Let's do what our Master said we should do. He told us he was alive, that his Spirit would be with us. He told us power was coming." None of them did, but here comes Jesus.
"…he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work)…" Verse 8: "But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish." They couldn't get it in. "So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread."
Think about this. The last time Peter was around a fire near Jesus, what was he doing? Denying him. Here is Jesus saying, "Peter, come here. I don't need anything from you; I already have fish." I love what he said. "Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.'" Who caught the fish? It was Jesus who told them… Jesus caught the fish. He said, "Just put the net in; bring the fish. That's where my fish are. Bring them to me."
I love it. He says, "Hey, guys, way to go. You did what I told you to do, and look what you did! It's amazing. It's more than you would ever imagine. Just bring it here and add to what I'm doing. I'm going to let you participate in my catch. Way to go. But I have everything here for you." He reminds them, "Listen. If you're going to be effective at what you do, guys, you have to commune with me."
This should sound familiar in verse 12. "Come. Eat with me. Dine with me." He took bread, broke it, and gave it to them. What's he doing? He is reminding them: "This is fellowship. Come commune with me. Men, if you're going to be effective, you're going to do it out of communion with me. That's the secret. By the way, if you forget who I am, you're going to go back to what you used to do, and you're not going to be successful anymore. Nothing in the world will ever, ever please you again." Peter knew that. That's why he was so excited. Now we go to…
3._ The motivation._ This is why you are going to do what you should do. "So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon…'" What you're going to see here is John put this in here because Peter is going to be the seminal figure in the book of Acts. He had already been forgiven. We don't have time to go read it, but I love what it says at the very end of the book of Mark. By the way, Mark was written by John Mark, who many people think really got his firsthand account from Peter. It's really Peter's gospel.
Peter, when he was telling Mark the story of what happened after the resurrection… There is something in the book of Mark that's in no other gospel. It says in the book of Mark that when the angels were there and the women went to the tomb, the women ran in and they saw the angel. The angel said, "You go tell the disciples…"
In the book of Mark it says the angel said to Mary Magdalene, Salome, and the other ladies who were there, "Go tell the disciples, and hey girls, come here. Make sure you tell Peter it's okay. He is going to see his Lord. It's all forgiven. He is not angry at him. You tell him the Lord lives." I think what you are seeing right here is this is the Lord, publicly now, letting Peter be restored to a place that he wanted him.
He says, "Peter, do you love me?" He uses the word there meaning, "Do you love me unconditionally, sacrificially?" In the end it was the word agapē. Peter responds and says, "I phileó you. I brotherly love you." "I'm fond of you," is what he says. It's interesting. There's more humility here.
The last time this went down Jesus said, "Hey, look. You guys are going to deny me." He didn't say one person would deny. He said, "You're going to all deny me." Peter goes, "I don't know what these guys are going to do, Lord, but I'm not going to deny you. I love you more than anybody." Guess what? He didn't. Peter wasn't stronger than anybody else. He needed the sustaining grace and work of Christ.
This week I was going back over Pharaoh's hardening of his heart in Exodus. As I was thinking about that, we always really struggle with the idea of God hardening Pharaoh's heart. Let me tell you something. God doesn't need to harden my heart to make me sin. All God has to do is withhold grace, and I'm going to sin. All God did is he stopped letting Pharaoh respond, if you will. He didn't make him not respond; he just didn't cause him to respond.
This is why we ought to be the most humble people on the face of the earth. I want to tell you something. I see who Jesus is not because I have better eyesight than the fishes but because God has called me out of the darkness into his light. That's why I never get frustrated when people are beheading Christians or calling me names or living in sin or abandoning their marriages. I know if God didn't give me grace, he wouldn't have to harden my heart. It would be my heart being hardened. That's what my heart does apart from grace.
What you are going to see here is that Peter had finally learned what men who follow him need to know. That is, you can't will your way to the love of God. He says, "Peter, are you going to love me to the end?" Peter goes, "Lord, I'm fond of you. I'm not… Listen, I want to be your brother. I want to be your friend." Peter did not respond, "I'm going to love you sacrificially to the very end." He was very, very broken here.
Jesus said to him, "Then you tend my lambs." That's another metaphor that comes here. "He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you [agapē] Me? He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I [am fond of] You.'""I phileó you." Jesus said, "Well, Peter. Shepherd my sheep."
The third time… Why would Jesus do this three times, by the way? Probably because he is just saying, "Peter, I know you failed me three times. Let me just love you." So the third time (this is what's interesting), Jesus says to him, "Peter, do you phileó me? Are you really fond of me? The best you can, with all the human heart you have, do you want to be my brother?" Peter looked back at him the third time and said, "Yes, I want to be your brother."
He basically says, "That's enough, because Peter, here's the deal. You don't have unconditional love for me. I have unconditional love for you. I am faithful even when you're faithless. I know you love me, Peter. I know you're doing everything you can. Guess what? My grace is sufficient for you. You tend my sheep."
You see, God doesn't need you to be perfect, folks. That's why he went to the cross. What he does want is some humility in you that acknowledges, "Apart from responding, Father, to your love, I'm going to be just like Pharaoh. All you have to do… You don't have to harden my heart, Lord. You just have to let me go a little bit." That is why we ask God to bind our heart, to feel his grace, and to be his.
That's why we gather, to remind ourselves of what is true. This is the way we commune. Every time we break bread with each other, we are to do what Jesus did together and encourage each other. "Hey, man, listen. This is why we're going to live this way today. Remember what Jesus did for us?" It says right there he says, "Hey, that's enough. You love me." He says then…
4._ The mindset._ Verse 18 to the very end. The mindset you are going to have is simply this: "Peter, I'm going to tell you something." "…when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."
You read that verse… I do and I go, "What in the world does that mean? I don't really know what that means." That's why I love verse 19. "Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God." I wish there were more verse 19s after verse 18s in your Bible. The reason verse 18 is there is because what this means is, "Peter, you're not going to get to do anymore just want you want to do. I'm going to take you some places you wouldn't normally want to go, but if you'll stay with me, you're going to do stuff you would never do.
You know what you do? You deny me before 10-year-old little slave girls. You know what you do? You deny me when you're asked who I am. But guess what? You gird yourself in me, you abide with me, you commune with me, and you're going to complete what is lacking in my afflictions."
This is prophetic. This is exactly what Peter did. Peter later was crucified and was such a man of strength that he said, "When you crucify me, I don't want you to crucify me the way you crucified my Lord. I'm not worthy." Peter was crucified upside down, church history and tradition has told. He went out, and Peter was fearless because of love. What Jesus is saying right here…
Do you know what the motivation is for the men in ministry? It's love. And not that our love is so great God will be impressed by it, but that it's always God and all his love is enough. "Go tell the disciples and Peter, go tell the people at Watermark who didn't fish this week. Go tell them I love them. I'm not mad at them, but remind them who I am and what they get to do. They don't have to catch anybody. They just have to do what I ask them to do. When I catch men, by the power of my convicting Spirit, I'll go, 'What did you bring me?'"
Again, here's just the mindset too. One of the things Peter does is he is talking to Jesus as they walk, and he turns around and goes, "What about John? What's going to happen to John?" He just says, "Don't you worry about John. I might let John live forever. Everybody in this church is going to have a different story. Just love me. Just me and you, bro. I'm all you need. You know what? Peter, you're going to go places you don't want to go. I have something for John. You just do what you're supposed to do."
Some of you guys, God's story in your life was you were going to get blown up in a Humvee. It was going to change your life forever, and that was the story. That was the way God was going to glorify himself. Some of you guys, your story was that your spouse was going to forsake you. You're going, "Why is that my story?" I don't know why it's your story. I just know he is Lord, and you're no fool for following him.
If you're his men and you're motivated by his love, you'll be about his mandate whatever his mandate is for you. Listen, there are all kinds of different stories, and every single person here who faithfully follows his story is no fool. There are some people in this room who have met the resurrected Lord, and they are no fools. They are all in for him. Here's their story.
Mo Sadjadpour: Before following Christ, I was incredibly insecure and needed approval from people. I would do whatever I needed to do to find that approval.
Liz Brock: I was just really depressed and anxious. I was searching for my worth and just to feel satisfied in the bar scene and in the next party.
Summer Belanger: After committing adultery, I felt just the weight of the guilt and shame that came with that, that if I was to be known that I would not be loved. For so long I was trying to spin my wheels constantly looking for others to tell me that I was good enough or worthy enough. I don't have to do that anymore. I can be known for who I am and confident in who Christ created me to be.
Mo: I realized that this life isn't mine, and that I was made for a greater purpose. So the way that I viewed my work and the way that I had conversations, the way that I made friends, I realized was all about Christ and about sharing his gospel with others.
Liz: Joy filled my life for the first time. I started really feeling like life was sweet. Because of the resurrection, I am…
Summer: I am…
Mo: I am no fool.
Mat Tonne: When we heard of the name West Dallas, we thought it would be crazy to move there. It wasn't our culture. It wasn't convenient. A lot of people who we care about felt it would be dangerous for us to move down here, but we felt like we were just obeying God. We were simply trying to do what we felt Christ wanted us to do.
Crystal Tonne: So we picked up our family and moved to West Dallas with the hopes of raising our kids here, just being used by Christ to reach the community by being a part of the community.
Mat: It doesn't get much more secure than obeying Christ. Because of the resurrection, we are not fools.
Mo: I am…
Liz: I am…
Jennifer Hood: I am no fool.
Sam Brown: My life before I was blown up in Afghanistan was full of selfishness, pride, greed, and just a desire for the things that pleased me in this life. But as that bomb ripped through the vehicle and I realized I had no ability to even save my own life, I went to the one place I thought I could find life, and that was crying out to Jesus.
People do have a hard time understanding how I can escape that event without unforgiveness and bitterness. Also how could I call something that was so destructive so wonderful? I have the greatest Commander. I have a new mission. It's a mission that is not one of selfishness. It's one of service and glorifying God. For the same reasons that serving others feels good, serving God feels the best.
Justin Hood: Because of the resurrection…
Female: I'm not a…
Male: I am no…
Sam: I am no fool.
Jennifer: David was such an incredible little boy. He never spoke a word, but David had a smile that would just light up a room. David was born with a congenital heart defect that was pretty rare and required quite a few surgeries, one when he was an infant. When he was recovering from that one, he had a major complication which resulted in a brain injury. He came home on hospice. After about 7 months, he passed away in May of 2013.
Justin: Through his life, he was in the ICU for 7 months, one 4-month stay and one 3-month stay. Through those times, it was up and down, up and down. There were constantly changes being made. There were constantly days when they didn't know that he was going to make it through the day, much less through the hour.
Jennifer: I was so angry, and I just, in my head, railed at the Lord.
Justin: I had some very honest conversations with God. I had some times where I was just crying out in anger and crying out in confusion. I felt he was silent. I felt he was just… Some days I didn't feel his presence. Thank God he sent some other men to come in beside me, help me, encourage me, remind me, and just build me up a little bit and prepare me for the road that was to come. I wasn't preparing all my life for this at all. God came through when it was time for him to come through. I would say it doesn't make sense. It didn't make sense to me either.
Jennifer: That's okay. It doesn't have to make sense to us because we trust in him, because we know it makes sense to him and he's good.
Justin: Through this journey, as hard as it's been, he has just been faithful. God was in control, and if he is not, something else was going to control us. Through his Spirit, through his people helping us and encouraging us, and through his Word being rock-solid, we just said, "We're not going anywhere else. God is going to win in the end. We're going to win. We're going to see David again, and it's going to be great." Because of the resurrection, we are not fools.
[End of video]
I don't know. I don't know what your story is going to be this side of the resurrection. I don't know. I don't know if you're going to be in a Humvee. I don't know if your little boy is going to get sick. I don't know if your career is not going to go the way you want. I don't know if God is going to call you to move somewhere the world thinks you're crazy to move.
I don't know if you're just going to be faithful to hold true to the Word of God when the winds and waves of doctrine in our world are radically shifting, and it's going to be a tempest. There is going to be chaos, and you're just going to hold firm. Somebody else might seem to have an easier road. Christ is sufficient for you. If you hold on to the risen Lord, you keep communing with him, and you find men and women who can encourage you to be faithful to the end, you are no fool. You are no fool.
But I want to tell you, if you go back to vomit, you eat it, it tastes like it used to, and there is no sadness with that vomit-eating, you might be a fool to delude yourself into believing that you ever really met the Lord. I don't know. My job is not to see through you to figure out what happened. My job is to see you through to faithfulness to the end. And so we gather. And so I remind you that you are no fool to be motivated by his love.
Do the best you can. "Lord, I'm fond of you. It's the most I can do in my fallen flesh which just craves sin. I love you. I know what you did. I will never be unconditional and perfect in my affections for you, but I'm going to try. I'm going to dedicate myself to my word. I'm going to abide with your Spirit. I'm going to surround myself with your people. I'm not going to attend church; I'm going to be a part of it, and the saints are going to encourage me. Thank you that you are faithful even when I am faithless. Help me run to the end. Make me a fisher of men."
Justin, I see you over there, buddy. Why don't you come up here and close us? Would you? Would you pray for us? This is Justin. This is David's daddy. We cried together through David's sickness. His story was he lost his boy, but he is sitting there with his Bible. He's discipling his little girl. He is talking to other guys at the fire station about Jesus.
He is not an agapē person. You just heard him say on there, "Man, it's not easy all the time to be perfect in your love for the Lord." You miss your son, but, "I'm no fool for holding on to him. That's all I've got." Because death has lost its victory and death has lost its sting. Would you pray for us, bro?
Justin: God, we love you. I don't know where I would be without you. I don't know where this world would be without you, God, but you are here. There are so many days it's not easy, but you are here. God, just help us. Help us to trust more. Help us to believe more. Help us to come to you, in our brokenness, in our honesty. God, we need you. We need you, Lord, to get through. Troubles will come, and you are bigger than those troubles.
I've lived it. So many others have lived it. God, whoever is next to live it, if they call out to you, you're going to be right there with them. You're just good. I don't always have the answers, God, but I know clinging to you, you have told us you will win in the end, God. Those of us who follow and believe will also. Be with us through the week, God. Give us courage. Give us reminders.
I thank you for this church. I thank you for the people in it, so many who love so many every single week. I'm grateful for a place to come. God, build us up and help us. Send us and give us all we need, Lord. God, remind us you've already done that. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for Easter. We just love you. Amen.
Todd: Let me tell you something. For Justin to believe this, for Peter to believe that it was worth still preaching about Jesus even though he was crucified? That's foolish. Unless the grave is empty. Then it's all you should talk about. You're a fool to worship God who let your little son die. Unless his son is not dead, and death has lost its victory.
If you're here, and you've never known anything but vomit, can I tell you about the one who will give you a different appetite, who will lead you beside still waters and put you in green pastures? He'll dress you up to suffer for his name's sake, and he'll give you the grace to do it. He won't be mad at you if you don't do it perfectly. His grace is sufficient for you.
If you have never come to know the goodness of God, you are a fool if you don't respond to that offering. There will be a day you will acknowledge that he is King. Would you let us know if we can tell you about our Lord? If you know him, would you be fishers of men?
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.