Stepping Into Significance
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: John 21:1-17
Sunday 20th December 2015
As we continue studying the on-going series, ‘The Defining Moment’, let’s recap the message ‘An Invitation to Dine with King Jesus – Part 2’, which we discussed last week. Beyond providing for the disciples’ physical and psychological needs, Jesus also provided for their spiritual needs. Equally, Jesus wants to supply all our needs too. However, in order to enjoy this provision we need to draw closer to Him, as our habitat as Christians is in God. Our true life satisfaction and completion can only be found in Him..
Hence, we must discard the modern day obsession with needs, and instead be Christ-driven and Christ-centred. Instead of focusing on amenities and life’s comforts, our attention should be on God and His kingdom. Those things will then ultimately be added to our lives. Philippians 4:19 makes this clear: ‘And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’. In rounding up, we looked at three things that should be in place to follow Christ as outlined in Luke 9:23-26: (a) Deny yourself (b) take up your cross daily and (c) follow Him. Lastly, we understood the benefits of dining with Christ: (i) It is the key to bearing much fruit (ii) It is the key to answered prayers (iii) It is the key to living a life that glorifies God.
Let’s read our foundation scripture once more, John 21:1-17: ‘Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep".
Shortly after breakfast, Jesus turned to Simon Peter to ask him this simple but profound question: ‘Simon, do you love me?’ Simon’s decision had influenced the choices of six other disciples, including John who was described as the disciple that Jesus loved.
Our decisions as we advance into the New Year, ought to be based on what Christ has concluded for our lives, because inadvertently we are influencing others around us. Here is how Psalm 37:23 puts it: ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way’.
Jesus asked Simon Peter this same question ‘Do you love me?’ three times, an indication that this was not a light-hearted conversation. Besides, Jesus called Peter by his former name: ‘Simon, the son of John’. Matthew 16:13-18 gives an insight into this name change: ‘When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it’. The meaning of ‘Simon’ in biblical times was unstable, a reed or grass. Jesus changed his name to Peter, meaning ‘a rock’.
From our foundation scriptures, Jesus’ reference to the name ‘Simon’ was simply a means to remind Peter of how far he had come. In other words, Jesus was asking him: ‘Have you forgotten what I have delivered you from, and how far you have come from your former days?’ Conversely, as Christians, we often tend to forget how far along Christ has brought us, deciding instead on focusing on those things that we have not yet been physically seen. Instead of focusing on those needs, it is better to give our attention to God and thank Him for how far He has brought us. As we begin another year in the coming days, can I encourage you to fill your hearts and minds with gratitude to God for all He has done? It is obvious, that He has been good. Besides, He is working behind the scenes to bring to fruition all He has purposed and planned for our lives.
So Jesus asked Peter: ‘Do you love me more than these?’ This question asked three times emphasized the unequivocal significance of his assignment beyond fishing. Jesus made an apt reference to this in Luke 12:15; ‘Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own" (NLT). Conversely, we have been called to make a difference and change the world. Peter’s reaction to this question was a turning point in his life. Here is John 21:17: ‘Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep". Peter’s response was the catalyst that Jesus needed to connect him with his life’s purpose, which was to attract multiplied thousands in his lifetime to the gospel. In other words, Jesus was emphasising this truth: ‘Your significance in life begins, when you are connected to your purpose’.
Peter denied Christ vehemently three times, as recorded in Mark 14:66-72. Is it any wonder then that Jesus had to renew Peter’s commitment to a life of discipleship three times? Jesus wanted to rid Peter of any guilt that he could have been beleaguered with from that moment of repudiation. A guilty person will always find it difficult to advance and make significance in life. “I declare in Jesus name, that every heart that may be ridden with guilt over past failures is free today. I shatter the hold of guilt over your lives in Jesus name!” Here is St. Paul’s summation of this truth in Romans 8:1-2; ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death’.
Again, let me reiterate that there is a purpose for your life. Irrespective of how far you may have moved away from the Lord this year, or the struggles you may be dealing with or going through, God has undeniably called you to serve His purpose for such a time as this. You are a tool in the Master’s hands to touch the next generation. So then, head with purpose and conviction into this coming year with the intention to serve God and obey His will for your life. As we’ve already mentioned in previous messages in this series, God will provide for all needs as you follow after Him.
Here are three things Peter did to embrace his significance:
• Peter laid aside distractions: He laid aside his past. As you step into the New Year, ensure that you lay aside every distraction. Detangle from every person that do not line up with God’s destiny for you in the coming year. The Israelites learned this lesson painfully as the mixed multitude made the journey to the Promised Land difficult for them as recorded in Numbers 11:4. St. Paul made this clear in Hebrews 12:1 by encouraging us to lay aside every distraction that could easily beset us, and focus on Christ.
• Peter reaffirmed his commitment to God: Each morning is a good opportunity to show gratitude to God for another opportunity to make impact in life, and for deliverance from the past. Your gratitude is a sign of commitment to Him.
• Peter embraced the higher calling: In the coming year, embrace God’s purpose. Put aside those ideas of trying to work things out your way. It’s time to make your life count beyond your needs.
Here are five things that occurred when Jesus met with Peter:
(a) Jesus shut the door against Peter’s past.
(b) Jesus gave Peter a new assignment.
(c) Jesus gave Peter a new beginning.
(d) Jesus empowered Peter.
(e) A new level of relationship was established with Peter.
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