Sunday, August 24, 2008

John 21

And finally we arrive at the end of the Gospel According to John. I really like the story in found in John 21.

It is a story that I used as a sermon text to close out the Revival at Hopedale a couple of years ago. It is a story that really comes down to identifying with Peter in spite of the centuries that separate us.

It has been about three years since Peter started following the man Jesus. In that time, Peter witnessed many miracles. He heard God's voice from heaven. He saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus. He even walked on water. He believed Jesus to be the Son of God. He believed Jesus to be the Messiah. But now Jesus was dead. Even though the disciples had seen the risen Jesus, they still were unsure of what was next. They had been hiding out for fear that the Jewish leaders were going to come after them next. In the midst of fear and doubt, what does Peter do?

He announces that he is going fishing. If you'll recall, Peter (in his life prior to Jesus) was a fisherman. I think that this was more than just a way to kill a day. It was more than just finding something to do. I think that like most of us, Peter was returning to a life that he had been comfortable with. Without his teacher and friend to lead him on, Peter was going back to what he knew.

There is a problem here. Once you've had an encounter with the Son of God, you can't just go back to the way you were before. Once you've had a personal relationship with God, you can't be the same person that you were before. God's nature makes that impossible. And if you try to go back, Jesus will come looking for you.

In the story, Jesus (after three years) uses the same words to call Peter to service that He used in the beginning, "Follow me." His calling doesn't change for you or me either. It is the same as it was for Peter and the others, "Follow me."

Jesus even give Peter a clue as to what will happen to him. History records that Peter would indeed follow Jesus. On day Peter would also be crucified. It is interesting that Peter would wonder about what fate was ahead for John. But Jesus pretty much tells him that it isn't any of his business.

Sometimes we get wrapped up in what others are doing in the Kingdom. We point our fingers and ask, "What are they doing for the Kingdom?" I think that Jesus would tell us, "It isn't any of your business." Each one of us has only ourselves to answer for...and only Jesus to answer to.

For today, I've learned that you can't go back. You can't unlearn what you've learned and you can't undo what you've experienced. We are a product of all of the days of our lives; everything that we've learned; everything that we've experienced; every word that we've uttered; every act that we've done (or failed to do) and every thought that we've had. Once you've had an encounter with the Living God, you are different and you can't change that. Peter could not go back to fishing for fish. He had been called and trained to fish for men.

Verse that I liked best was verse 22, Jesus' answer to Peter about John: Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

A question to consider:

If you've followed along from chapter one, what are you going to do about this person of Jesus?

I've enjoyed sharing daily thoughts as I've used the Gospel of John for my devotional reading. I'm not sure if anybody read daily and only received a few comments. That's okay. It was a way to keep me focused. I may do something like this again in the really just depends on how I feel that I am being lead by the Spirit.

For Mike, sorry the post comes so late on Sunday (it actually just past the midnight hour and is now Monday). Also, it doesn't appear that I'll be moving on to least not in this forum.

Thanks to all of you for your indulgence through this little experiment.


By the way, the counter that I added a year ago will hit 10,000 sometime today or tomorrow! Unbelievable!


Kevin said...

Nicely done, John.

Interestingly (from what I've read) Peter was crucified upside-down at his request because he didn't feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

John said...

Peter was crucified upside down.
Fox's Book of Martyrs lists how all of the Apostles died as well as many other heroes of the faith