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Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19

Have your transgressions hijacked your identity, causing you to feel full of guilt and shame rather than purpose for God? In the fifth week of our sermon series Loaded Questions, Timothy Ateek gives us five truths for dealing with the failures in our lives.

Timothy "TA" AteekJan 30, 2022

In This Series (8)
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
David MarvinFeb 20, 2022
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Timothy "TA" AteekFeb 13, 2022
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
John ElmoreFeb 6, 2022
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 30, 2022
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 23, 2022
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Blake HolmesJan 16, 2022
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
John ElmoreJan 9, 2022
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
John ElmoreJan 2, 2022

Summary

Have your transgressions hijacked your identity, causing you to feel full of guilt and shame rather than purpose for God? In the fifth week of our sermon series Loaded Questions, Timothy Ateek gives us five truths for dealing with the failures in our lives.

Key Takeaways

  • Our past failures can quietly operate in the background, poisoning our lives with guilt, shame, and regret.
  • You can try to pacify shame and regret, but if you don’t allow Jesus to deal with them, there will still be something toxic in your life.
  • Five truths about dealing with sin and failure in our lives:
    • Your compromise doesn’t change Jesus’ commitment.
    • Jesus is the author of new starts.
    • Your life can still glorify Jesus.
    • Failure will be a part of your future, but Jesus’ forgiveness will be as well.
    • Peter ran to Jesus instead of from Jesus.
  • Your relationship with Jesus has never hinged upon the strength of your character; it has always rested on the strength of His character.
  • When Jesus went to the cross, He took away the entire record of our sins.
  • Jesus deals with either all of our sins or none of our sins, but there is no middle ground.
  • Because of Jesus Christ, your past no longer has the right to remind you of what you have done; your past’s only responsibility is to display the beauty and greatness of God’s grace.
  • Peter isn’t remembered for his failure; he’s remembered for his faithfulness.
  • Don’t let your limited perspective tell you what a limitless God can and can’t do in and through you.
  • The goal isn’t perfection; the goal is surrender.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • When you feel like you are operating under a banner of failure instead of trusting God’s grace to cover your entire record of sins, what are some Scriptures you can turn to so you can be reminded of truth? Who can hold you accountable to remembering what Jesus has done instead?
  • If you have not yet trusted in Christ, how can you trade your story of failure for God’s story of grace?
  • If a book were to be written about what Jesus has done in your life, what would it say?

Resources for Further Discussion

  • Suggested Scripture study: John 21; Luke 22:54-62; Matthew 26:56b; Colossians 2:13-14; Acts 4:13; Galatians 2:11

Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? Hey, it's so good to see you. If this is our first time together, my name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here, and I am so excited for what God has in store for us this morning. I want to start by sharing with you… Several years ago, two of my closest friends, Sterling and Natalie, bought this older home in Dallas. This home had this small room at the back of the house that Sterling and Natalie made a playroom for their kids.

What they didn't realize was the previous owners had installed an air conditioning unit for this one room in the back of the house, and the air conditioning unit that was put in was far too big for this one small room. I am not an HVAC guy. That's not what this is about this morning. But apparently, the unit that was put in was far too big for this one small room, so the unit was short cycling. It was basically overproducing, so moisture was developing on the coils inside of the unit. It didn't have time to evaporate, so mold was growing on the inside of the unit.

Now, what I need to tell you is that my friend Natalie has had an issue where her body struggles to eliminate toxins. She has had that for about two decades. So, just imagine what is happening. There's this air conditioning unit that is blowing toxic air through their house all day, every day, quietly poisoning her body without her even knowing it.

The reason I tell you that is because, this morning, I want us to spend some time talking about our past failures. It might be something that happened just this weekend. It could be something that happened all the way back in middle school. I would imagine every single person here has different moments or different seasons of time that you could just slap the label on, "What was I thinking?"

Some of you would say it was college. "Like, a particular year of college?" "No…college. What was I thinking?" Some of you would be like, "That guy. What was I thinking?" I don't know what it would be for you. Maybe you look at the way you operated in one particular job, and maybe you cut corners. You think back, and there's great shame attached to that. Maybe you had an abortion. Maybe there's a broken relationship in your past, and when you think about it, you know the relationship broke in large part because of you, so there's shame attached to that.

Maybe you bullied someone all the way back in middle school, and it comes to your mind from time to time, and it feels like a pebble in your shoe. There's something you just can't get over because of it. What you need to understand is our past failures can be a lot like that air conditioning unit in my friends' home.

Our past failures, if we're not careful, can quietly operate in the background of our lives, blowing shame and regret through our souls like air through a house. Shame and regret are extremely toxic. They will impact the way you view your identity. They will impact the way you interact with Jesus. They will taint your relationships. They're like weeds, and when they set in, they can overtake anything healthy in your soul.

I want you to know that this talk is extremely personal to me this morning. Right out of college, I was in a two-and-a-half-year "on again, off again" dating relationship, and here's the reality: I led that dating relationship into impurity and insecurity and drama. I just did not have a vision for how to care for and lead a girl in a godly way, yet at the same time, I was in seminary, basically getting a degree in Jesus, and I was serving on a church staff as an intern, working with high school students.

My life was just packed with hypocrisy, because I was working at this church, working with these high school students, telling them to live one way, yet I was living another. Eventually, it led to the point where I had to step out of all leadership positions at that church for a season of time. When I got perspective, and as some older men helped me get out of that relationship… When I got perspective, I realized just how dry my relationship with God had become. I realized just how pitiful of a job I had done giving this particular girl an example of what a godly man should look like.

When I realized the hypocrisy in my ministry, I am telling you, guilt and shame moved into my soul and made themselves at home, and they impacted my life for years. I remember when I would walk around that church, and I would run into people from that church, I believed people saw me for my failure, because that's what our past failures can do. They can hijack our identity, and we will begin to believe that what we did is in some way who we are.

After I went through a period of God restoring my soul… When I became a student pastor in Austin, I remember feeling so unqualified for my job because of my past. See, that's what our past failures can do. Our past failures can tell us, "You are unworthy" and "You are unqualified" and "You are unusable."

Then when I started dating my wife Kathryn, she came into our relationship with a cleaner past than I, and I remember feeling so unworthy of the relationship, because that is what shame will do. It will tell you that you no longer are worthy of God's good gifts. I just remember wanting time to pass as quickly as possible.

I wanted as much distance as possible between my present and my past, because I believed the farther I got away from my failure, the more God would like me. I just wonder if you can identify with that at all. I wonder if there's anything in your past that is quietly operating in the background, blowing shame and regret through your soul like air through a house.

It's interesting. When I talked to my friends Sterling and Natalie about what they did with that air conditioning unit, here's what they told me. They said, "You know, before we realized what was actually going on, Natalie tried all sorts of things to better her health." She said, "I would try all of these different things, and I might feel better for a couple of days, but then my health would just tank again." Why? Because the problem had not been addressed.

What you need to understand is you can try to pacify shame and regret, but if you don't actually allow Jesus to deal satisfactorily with your past, there will still be something toxic in your life. You might try to deal with your past by making promises to God. That's one of the ways we pacify our shame. We try to make promises to God, like, "God, I will never do that again. I promise I will never look at porn again. I promise I will never cheat again. I promise I will never do this; I will never do that." We'll make promises. But what happens if you break that promise?

Another thing we might do is we compare our lives to other people's lives. We will look for someone who has screwed up worse than we have, and when we've found someone who has failed more significantly than we have, we feel better about ourselves, and we're able to look and say, "Well, at least I haven't done that. At least I haven't failed like he has." But then you find someone who hasn't failed as badly as you, and you're like, "Okay. Let's go back to the guy who failed worse." You can compare.

You can punish yourself. You can deprive yourself of God's good gifts, believing that if you punish yourself, there's something noble and really spiritual about that and that God will love you more because you have punished yourself for what you've done. Do you know what Sterling and Natalie had to do? They had to call someone to come in and rip out that toxic unit.

This morning, my hope is that many of us are going to allow Jesus to step into our lives and rip out the toxic air conditioning unit of shame that is blowing air through our souls that just leaves us haunted, living under the banner of failure. Just think about that real quick. Is that you? When you wake up each day, are you, without even realizing it, operating under the banner of failure? If so, Jesus wants to do something about it. He's going to show us what he wants to do about our failures by showing us what he did with the apostle Peter's failure.

If you have a Bible, turn with me this morning to John, chapter 21. We're looking at a story about Peter. If you're new to the Bible, you still might have some familiarity with the apostle Peter, but if Peter is new to you, let me just tell you. Jesus had 12 people he spent the majority of his time with, his 12 disciples. Peter was one of those disciples, but within those 12 people, Jesus had three people he spent even more time with. Those people's names were Peter, James, and John.

What I'm trying to tell you is that Peter was in the inner circle. Jesus gave new names to those three people. He called James and John the Sons of Thunder, which is pretty awesome, and then there was Simon, whom Jesus named Peter. When someone gives you a name, that's when you're tight. Like, people call me "TA." It's because in eighth grade this guy was like, "From this day forward, you will be TA." I'm like, "It's my initials. Super creative, but fine." And it has just stuck.

When you're close with someone, that's what happens. I'm just trying to tell you that Peter had a relationship with Jesus that was tighter than most people. Peter ate hummus with Jesus. Peter had pillow talk at night with Jesus. That's the type of relationship they had, yet right as Jesus gets arrested, we find this moment in Peter's life. I'm going to read it to you. You don't need to turn there, but I just want to read you what plays out in Luke, chapter 22. Listen to what it says.

"Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, 'This man also was with him.' But he denied it, saying, 'Woman, I do not know him.' And a little later someone else saw him and said, 'You also are one of them.' But Peter said, 'Man, I am not.'

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, 'Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.' But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about.' And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly."

All eyes on me. Let's make sure you understand what is happening here. Jesus has his last supper with his 12 closest friends, and right there in the middle of the dinner, the soundtrack to the movie Braveheart begins to play. Peter goes to Jesus and is like, "I am willing to die for you." It sounds so noble and heroic. Then you hear a record scratch, and Jesus is like, "That's cute. You really won't. In fact, before the end of the day, you're going to deny me three times." And Peter does exactly that.

What I'm trying to tell you is you take Peter, who wasn't just one of the Twelve; he was one of the three. He spent every day with Jesus, beheld all of his messages, all of his miracles, and what does he do? He denies Jesus three times. That is a significant failure. That's why I love the Bible. It doesn't sugarcoat anything. It's not just a collection of unrealistic stories where people do unrealistic things. No. It is packed full of stories of people who were close to God and yet failed miserably before God.

I don't know if you saw it, but Peter actually locked eyes with Jesus after he denied him the third time. What was the result? It said he went out and wept bitterly. Shame and regret set in instantaneously. We might think, "End of story. Done deal. So long, Peter." Yet we have John, chapter 21, in our Bibles. So, I want to show you what Jesus did with Peter, because this is what he wants to do with you. Along the way, I just want to quickly give you five key truths you need to know when dealing with shame and regret in your life.

  1. Your compromise doesn't change Jesus' commitment. Look at how verse 1 in chapter 21 starts out: "After this…" After what? After Jesus went to the cross, was put in a tomb, and then beat death by walking out of a tomb. After that. "…Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias…" That's another name for the Sea of Galilee. "…and he revealed himself in this way."

I want to pause right there, and what I want to point out is this one small word again. Isn't that interesting? "After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples…" Jesus, after he rises from the dead, appears to 500 people over a period of 40 days. Jesus appears to his disciples, one of whom is Peter. We find out in verse 14 what number appearance this is. It says, "This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."

Do you know what's interesting? Peter denied Jesus, but I don't know that we often think about the fact that the rest of the disciples deserted Jesus. So, you have Judas who betrayed Jesus, you have Peter who denied Jesus, and then you have 10 others who deserted Jesus. Matthew 26 puts it this way: "Then all the disciples left him and fled."

So, now Jesus beats death, and what does he do? He gets the gang back together. If you're God and of your 12 friends, one of them betrays you, one of them denies you, and the rest desert you… If you're God, don't you think you could find a better crew? Yet what does Jesus do? He gets the crew back together. What do his actions communicate? His actions communicate that the relationship with Peter and everyone else was on as scheduled. The disciples' compromise didn't change Jesus' commitment.

The same is true for you. His commitment can withstand your greatest compromise. This is so important. Please don't miss it. All eyes on me. Your relationship with Jesus has never hinged upon the strength of your character. It has always rested solely on the strength of his. Some of you need to hear this morning that Jesus isn't even close to giving up on you. He's not even close.

You can come up afterward and be like, "Yeah, but you don't know what I did." There's nothing you could say that would be like, "Okay. Change what I said. He's close with you." No. He's not even close to giving up on you. One of the most freeing things I've ever experienced is just going for a walk and talking with Jesus and having the realization, "I cannot believe you've never given up on me.

I can't believe you still love me after all of the days I've ignored you, after all the self-sufficiency and all of the times I've prioritized other things above you, after all of the careless and hurtful words toward others or the bitterness and gluttony and lust and pride and manipulation and selfishness. After all of the attempts to use you for my glory, not once have you given up on me or withheld your love from me." And not once has he given up on you or withheld his love from you. Your compromise does not change his commitment.

  1. Jesus is the author of new starts. That's what he's in the business of doing: giving clean starts to messy lives. Now, I need you to track with me, because we're about to cover a lot of ground in this one chapter. There's no way we can unpack all of the beautiful things in this passage, so we're going to read a lot, and then I'm just going to hit the highlights. Here's what it says:

"After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said to him, 'We will go with you.' They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, 'Children, do you have any fish?' They answered him, 'No.' He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish."

It is so important that you don't miss what is happening here. Where was Peter when Jesus first called him to be his disciple? Do you know where he was geographically? He was by the Sea of Galilee, which is where they are in this story: at the Sea of Tiberias. If you read what we just read… If you're familiar with the Bible, then what we just read might sound very familiar to you because of Luke, chapter 5.

Three years prior to this, Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, and he calls Peter to follow him. What did Peter do the night before Jesus called him to be his disciple? Well, he stayed up all night fishing and caught nothing. Jesus shows up the next day and says, "Cast your nets on the other side of the boat." Peter does, and they catch so many fish their nets begin to break.

Almost the exact same thing happens again in John 21. Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee. He sees Peter. He has stayed up all night fishing. He has caught nothing. Jesus is like, "Children, have you caught any fish?" The disciples are like, "Who's the dead man calling us children?" They throw their nets on the other side of the boat. This time they catch 153 fish, but their nets don't tear.

It continues in verse 7. "That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'" Now, what you're about to see is that Forrest Gump wasn't original. He was a copy. "When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea." Lieutenant Dan.

"The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.'

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' Now none of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."

There are only two things I want to point out from this big chunk of text we just read. Jesus brings his disciples to sit around a charcoal fire. When is the last recorded time in Scripture that we see Peter sitting around a charcoal fire? When he denied Jesus three times. The only other thing I want to point out, which really doesn't have anything to do with this talk this morning…I just find it interesting…

Isn't it awesome that when the disciples get to the shore with the 153 fish, Jesus says, "Come and have breakfast," but there's already a fire going and there's already fish on the fire? What a baller move. "Yeah, you caught all of those? You people don't have anything I need. I just want you." Isn't that awesome? It's great. Verse 15: "When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?'" Remember, we're in a series called Loaded Questions. We see our question this morning three times in a row.

"He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He said to him a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep.'"

Don't miss what's happening here. Did you see the name Jesus called him by? Simon, not Peter. Peter was the name Jesus gave to Simon when he first met him, but Jesus calls him by the name he met him with: Simon. Then Jesus gives Peter the same question three times. Do you see what's happening here? Jesus brings Peter back to a charcoal fire where Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus now gives him three opportunities to affirm his love for him.

So, put everything together that I have just told you. They're at the Sea of Galilee. Peter stayed up all night fishing and caught nothing. Jesus says, "Throw your net on the other side of the boat." All of these things happened three years prior. Simon's name at the time was Simon. Now Jesus brings him back, and it's as if Jesus is hitting the reset button on his life.

It's as if, even after three denials, Jesus is able to say, "We're just going to start over. Let's just go back to the beginning. Let's just run it all again. You go fish all night and catch nothing. I'll give you a bunch of fish. Do you want to go to another charcoal fire? Fine. I'll bring you to a new one. You denied me three times. Now you'll affirm your love for me three times. We are starting over." He's hitting the reset button on his life.

Why was this possible? It was possible because sandwiched between those two charcoal fires was the cross of Jesus Christ. Blake read this passage for us earlier, but the apostle Paul tells us exactly what Jesus accomplished for each one of us on the cross. Colossians 2:13-14: "You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross."

This is so important for you to understand. Paul is saying on the cross Jesus Christ did something so significant to forgive you and me of all of our sins. Then Paul says he canceled the record of our sins. So, when Jesus went to the cross, he didn't go to the cross to just die for individual sins, like it was a custom job where he was like, "You know what? I'll die for that sin for that person and that sin for that person." No.

When Jesus went to the cross, he took your entire record of sins, and he canceled the record and took it away. So, you either believe that Jesus Christ on the cross dealt with all of your sins or none of your sins, but there is no middle ground where it's like, "Yes, Jesus of course could die for that, but there's no way he could die for that." It's either all or nothing. He canceled the record of our sins.

Yet so many of us are like, "Yeah, I know, but what about my record? I mean, Jesus, you really could forgive me for doing that? I mean, Jesus, did you see how I bullied that kid in middle school? Did you see that I had an abortion? Did you see how promiscuous I was? Did you see how my marriage fell apart? Did you see this? Did you see that?" Paul is saying he canceled the record of your sins. Jesus has done something to make us new. That is what he has done. He has canceled the record. Jesus is the author of new starts.

Some of you guys are stuck in the past because you can't forgive yourself for your past. Let me just say this. If you wronged someone, do what you need to do to seek their forgiveness. If a relationship is broken because of you, go reconcile with that person. If you hurt someone at some point, go ask their forgiveness.

But you need to know that because of Jesus Christ, you need to put your past in its rightful place. Your past no longer has the right to remind you of what you've done. Your past only has the responsibility and the right to remind you of what Jesus has done. Your past's only responsibility is to display the beauty and greatness of God's grace. That's it. That's the responsibility of your past.

  1. Your life can still glorify Jesus. It can. Verses 18-19 say this. Jesus looks at Peter and says, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.' (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, 'Follow me.'"

What you need to understand is Jesus is now talking to Peter about how Peter is going to die. Tradition tells us that Peter was crucified, potentially upside down. So, when he talks about "You will be led where you don't want to go. Your hands will be stretched out," he's talking, potentially, about the way Peter will one day die.

Jesus is telling Peter… Did you see the wording in verse 19? "This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God." Jesus was not done with Peter. He still had great plans for Peter. If you look at what Jesus says when he asks Peter, "Do you love me?" three times… When Peter says, "Yes, I love you," what does he say? He says, "Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs." He's telling Peter, "Go have spiritual authority. Go be a leader in my church."

Fast-forward to the book of Acts. Do you know what you see? You see Peter leading the charge. He stands up, gives one message, and 3,000 people put their faith and trust in Christ. In Acts, chapter 4, Peter gets arrested and put in prison for proclaiming the gospel, and I love what the text says about the rulers and the soldiers. It says they recognized that Peter had been with Jesus. So, when Peter sat around that charcoal fire and denied Jesus, it was a question if Peter had been around Jesus. Now it was crystal clear.

Now Peter isn't as much remembered for his failure; he's remembered for his faithfulness. Jesus did incredible things through Peter, and he can do incredible things through you. Why? Because Jesus is able to take our story of failure and trade it for his story of forgiveness and favor. Will you allow him to make that switch? Will you allow Jesus to take your story of failure and trade it for his story of forgiveness and favor?

Please do not let your limited perspective tell you what a limitless God can and can't do in and through you. Do you hear what I'm saying? Don't let your limited perspective tell you what a limitless God can and can't do through you from this day forward. God can still glorify himself through you. You can still glorify God in dating. You can still glorify God in marriage. You can still glorify God as a parent. You can still glorify God as a friend. God can still do great things in and through you. I don't care where you've been or what you've done.

Do you want to know why I even started this morning by sharing with you about my past? Because I don't have a story to hide. I have a story to tell. My past isn't an anchor of shame I have to tow through my life. It is a trophy of God's grace. I have shared about my past failure with literally tens of thousands of people. Why? Because God has redeemed my life. He has brought me out of the pit, and he can do the same with you.

  1. Failure will be a part of your future, but Jesus' forgiveness will be as well. Verses 20-22: "Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?' When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, 'Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!'"

I love this. I don't know if you just followed what happened, but Peter and Jesus just had a moment. He's like, "Do you love me?" He's like, "I do love you." That's a moment. It's like a DTR conversation. Then Jesus is like, "Hey, just so you know, you're going to glorify me, and it's going to be through death." Then Peter looks at John, and he's like, "Yeah, what about that guy?" Jesus is like, "Hello, McFly! Is anyone home? You worry about you."

Moments after Jesus restores Peter, what does Peter do? He starts comparing. Jesus already has to correct him a minute into his new start. Then, if you were to go read Galatians, chapter 2, you would see Paul having to rebuke Peter for being out of line. Failure was a part of Peter's past and his future, but so was Jesus' forgiveness. Do you know what the banner over Peter's life is? "Imperfect but faithful." He was faithful to the end, but his life was very imperfect.

That's the label I want over my life. If I get to the end… If my wife Kathryn Ateek and my three boys can say at my funeral, "You know what? Timothy Ateek was very imperfect, but he was faithful," that would be a win. Why? Because failure will be a part of my future, just as it was in my past, but Jesus has traded my story of failure for his story of forgiveness. Will you let him do the same? I'll just read you the end of the chapter just to finish it out. Verse 23:

"So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?' This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

Do you see that? If everything was written down that Jesus did, the whole world wouldn't be able to contain the number of books that would be written. Let me just ask this: If a book was written about what Jesus does this morning at Watermark Community Church, what would it say? If a book was written about what Jesus does in your life today, what would it say? My hope is it would say that there's a group of people who are gathered together who might have brought shame in, but they're not leaving with it. Why? Because Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection are sufficient to take our failure and replace them with forgiveness and favor.

  1. Peter ran to Jesus instead of from Jesus. That's really what I'm inviting you to do this morning. Wherever you're at in life, I'm inviting you to run to Jesus. You need to know we all have an Enemy. He's the Father of Lies. He wants to get in our heads and say, "You are a failure. You absolutely are a failure. Your life is over. You can't glorify God. You can't have a new start. Jesus isn't committed to you because of your compromise."

When our Enemy gets in our minds, he begins to build a wall between us and Jesus, so we feel distant from him. We feel disconnected. We feel unloved. We feel unworthy. You need to know that wall our Enemy puts up is not built of concrete. It's built of papier-mâché. All you have to do is press on it and it collapses. How do you press on it? By running to Jesus instead of from Jesus. It's by realizing that Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient, that when he went to the cross, he took all of our sins, and on the cross his work was enough to cancel the record of our sins and remove it from our lives.

That's why now the question to you and me this morning is not "Do you promise never to sin again?" Jesus knows the answer to that. It's not "Do you promise to be in church every Sunday from this day forward?" That's not the question. What's the question? "Do you love me?" That's it. The right response is "Yes, I love you."

I shared my story that I was serving at a church and asked to step out of all leadership positions because of my failure. Do you know what the name of that church was? Watermark Community Church. I just want you to know me standing on this stage this morning is a testimony to you guys: Jesus was not done with me. I don't have a story to hide. I have a story to tell, and so do you, because Jesus Christ took my story of failure and traded it for his story of forgiveness and favor.

If you walked in here carrying shame, leave it here. If you're currently running from Jesus, living in sin, and that shame hasn't set in, stop running. Repent and come back to him. Let him renew you and refresh you. If you're here this morning and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, you need to know we all have a common story that we all are failures in God's eyes. We are. Every single one of us has fallen short of God's standard.

You can try your hardest to be good enough for God. In the end, it won't be enough. The good news is you don't have to be enough, because Jesus Christ came and was enough in our place. Jesus has done everything you need him to do for you to experience the complete forgiveness of God, but your response this morning… What is required is a response of faith, to put your trust in him and to give your life to him, to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Here's how I want to respond in this moment. I want to ask you to take a moment, 120 seconds, 2 minutes, to sit and respond to the Lord. I don't want to just release you and say, "Man, I hope that at some point you're going to sit with the Lord and do business with him and let him release you from your shame."

Let's do that now. Let's do that together. Let's be a people who leave this place lighter, who leave this place free. My hope and prayer is that when you show up to work tomorrow, people would see a change in your disposition because you're living free. So, take a moment, 120 seconds, 2 minutes. Do business with the Lord. His question to you this morning is, "Do you love me?"