• Tony Birkhead

The Main Event Week - 5




If Jesus is who He says He is, then He’s not done with you!


INTRODUCTION

How has conflict and restoration changed your personal relationships? Has this made your relationships stronger? How so?

One of the best tests of the strength of a relationship is conflict. The people who truly love us and have our best interests at heart are those who we are able to endure conflict with and come out on the other side with a stronger relationship. Peter had something of a “falling out” with Jesus. Despite his bold claims that he would rather die than turn away from Jesus, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Peter denied His Lord three times. Peter’s failure, however, did not stop Jesus from loving, pursuing, redeeming, and reconciling Peter. Peter’s relationship with Jesus is a picture of the relationship God offers every sinner through faith in the death and resurrection of His Son. By looking at Peter’s relationship with Jesus, we will see that our past sins and failures do not disqualify us from receiving Christ’s love and participating in His mission.

KEY SCRIPTURE

John 21:1-25

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ JOHN 21:1-6.

To what tasks has God called His church today?

In what ways do we sin against God when we fail to follow through on the tasks He has given us?

Seven of the disciples participated in this event: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two unnamed disciples. This was no important event. They were just “hanging out,” and for them, that meant fishing. But it was not a good night for the nets: in fact, they caught nothing. When Jesus showed up on the shoreline, they were in a helpless state. Jesus had called them to be fishers of men (see Matt. 4:19), but they abandoned that task after Jesus’ death, and now they weren’t even successful at fishing for fish.

READ JOHN 21:7-14.

Have someone read John 18:15-18,25-27. How were things left between Jesus and Peter prior to Jesus’ crucifixion?

When people questioned Peter about Jesus during Jesus’ trial, Peter denied any connection to Him. What does Peter’s rush to join Jesus say about him and his relationship with Jesus, in spite of what happened at the crucifixion?

Has shame over a past failure ever prevented you from running to Jesus? Why?

Peter’s lie at Jesus’ trial couldn’t have been further from the truth. He wouldn’t have been in the courtyard outside Jesus’ trial if he didn’t love Jesus, but fear and self-preservation kicked in, and he allowed those emotions to control him. Although our love is supposed to be modeled after Jesus’, the reality of our fallen world is that our love will never be perfect. Only Jesus perfectly demonstrates the fruit of love.

READ JOHN 21:19.

How is Peter supposed to demonstrate his love and loyalty to Jesus?

The Lord’s questions to Peter revealed He wanted Peter to follow Him out of love and in humility. Why do Christians tend to become proud of their service for Christ instead of remaining humbled at the privilege of serving Him?

How can you be more humble in your service for Christ?

Though Peter denied Jesus, Jesus was not finished with him. He again issued His call to Peter to follow Him and to serve Him out of love for Him. Peter’s love for Jesus must express itself in caring for His people. Jesus’ conversation with Peter shows He viewed love as the key to faithful discipleship and service. Jesus challenged Peter to show His love for Him and follow Him by caring for His people. Believers should express love for Jesus by caring for His people. If we really love Jesus, we will want to get involved in serving Him by caring for His people.

READ JOHN 21:20-25.

Why do you think Peter asked about John’s future?

What is the crucial issue revealed in Jesus’ response to Peter (v. 22)? How is this linked with verses 15-17?

Peter and John went back a long way with Jesus. Was Peter uneasy about John’s future? Would John suffer crucifixion also? Or was Peter just curious about what Jesus would want from John? Perhaps Peter really wondered what the Lord wanted to do in the other disciples’ lives. In any case, Jesus declined to give Peter the kind of answer he was seeking. The purpose of Jesus’ reply was to cause Peter to focus on his main task of following Jesus. Following Christ and helping His people require focus and a refusal to compare our circumstances with others’ circumstances.

Why do we sometimes compare our tasks for Christ with the work of others?

What effect does focusing on someone else’s role and achievements have? What should be our focus and point of comparison instead?


MOVING FORWARD

  • Has following Christ become a humdrum, stale experience for you? How can you renew your vows of love to Jesus and follow Him with a deeper commitment?

  • What most frequently stands in the way of you truly loving others?

  • Is there someone in your life who you need to reconcile with as a means of growing in Christ? What are some of the difficulties of doing so?


  1. Waiting on Jesus is a common experience for those who follow Jesus!

  2. When we’re not sure what to do next, “do the next thing”!

  3. Jesus is in complete control!

  4. Jesus is always serving us, even when we can’t see it!


  • Meditate on these this week!




PRAY TOGETHER

Close in prayer, giving your group members the opportunity to voice silent prayers of confession to God. Encourage them to confess ways they have reverted back to patterns and mindsets characteristic of their life without Him, ways they have denied Him this week, and ways they have failed to love others as He loves them.


COMMENTARY

JOHN 21:1-25

21:1-3. Seven of the disciples participated in this event: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two unnamed disciples. If we consider geography and occupation, on the basis of chapter 1 we might plug Andrew and Philip into those vacant slots. This was no important event. They were just “hanging out,” and for them, that meant fishing. But it was not a good night for the nets: in fact, they caught nothing.

Only John used the name “Sea of Tiberias” for the Sea of Galilee, and he even corrected himself on the title in 6:1. This body of water was also called the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). We should not hurry over the word “appeared” in verse 1. John used it and similar words to identify the self-revelation of Christ (John 1:31; 2:11; 9:3). He also used these words in his first epistle to describe the incarnate Christ (1 John 1:2; 3:5, 8; 4:9) and the Lord’s return (1 John 2:28; 3:2). Already in the first three verses of this chapter, Peter has emerged as the dominant personality among the post-resurrection disciples. John’s central emphasis in this futile fishing foray was to set up the miracle he described in verse 6. Nevertheless, the metaphor had been established by both Matthew and Mark: “Follow me … and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17). In the symbolic spiritual reality, we recognize the reappearance of John 15:5—futility without the presence and power of Christ.

21:4-6. Here we find a scene similar to what we saw in chapter 20 with Mary. These disciples, having seen the risen Lord twice, did not recognize Him on shore. Let us not read anything mystical into the text. It could have been dark, or at least dusk. Perhaps there was some mist on the water. The text says they saw someone on the shore but could not tell who it was.

John would never forget the suggestion by this stranger to throw your net on the right side of the boat. How many times that night they had dropped the net on the right side of the boat, then the left, then the right, then the left again—all to no avail. With nothing to lose, they dropped the net and hauled in what some interpreters have suggested would have been over three hundred pounds of fish. Presumably that figure represents what first-century fishing nets might hold.

21:7-9. Notice the disciples put the net down without knowing who had suggested the right side. As soon as they saw the results, they responded in character—John with a word to Peter and Peter jumping into the water. The Greek word for “outer garment” is used only here in the New Testament. We should not presume that Peter was naked before this moment, though some have surmised that.

21:10-14. The eight friends enjoyed breakfast together that day. The menu required some of the freshly caught fish in addition to what Jesus had already prepared. John, a professional fisherman, seemed amazed that they could pull in 153 large fish without the net breaking (another distinction from Luke 5). What a wonderful morning that must have been. These disciples (Thomas among them) experienced a new level of rest and comfort with the Lord’s resurrection and presence.

21:15. Embarrassing as it must have been at the time, this tender exchange restored Peter to leadership—a role he exercised early in Acts. Throughout the history of the church, thousands have been scattered on the roadside of good intentions for ministry; they traded God’s call for something else—like fishing. Even though this night of fishing may have been just a casual outing with the guys, as a professional fisherman Peter could have entertained thoughts of going back to his former work.

For the next nine verses, John brought his Gospel to a close with the clear enunciation of Peter’s call to ministry. Jesus asked Peter almost the same question three times. This could reflect the three denials, but whether it did or not, the command was similar each time: “Feed my lambs … Take care of my sheep … Feed my sheep.” A quick glance at 1 Peter lets us know the disciple never forgot this moment.

21:16. The shepherding call continued a second time as Jesus used Peter’s old name (Simon), reverting to “pebble” rather than “rock.” The flow of the text emphasizes humility and service rather than primacy over the other apostles.

21:17. At this point in the text there is a change of verb in Jesus’ question while the verb in Peter’s answer stays the same. We also learn Peter was hurt by the third question. In Jesus’ first two questions He used the word “aqapao”; hence the NIV translation “truly love.” In the third we find the word “phileo” and the NIV drops “truly.” Most interpreters find no significant difference in the words, particularly since the conversation took place in Aramaic. Nevertheless, John’s record in Greek did, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, adopt a different word. It seems difficult from the grammar of the text to argue that Peter’s hurt was brought about only by the connection of a third question with his three denials. We might conclude Peter was hurt because the question had been asked three times. But one should not dismiss the possibility that his discomfort lay in Jesus’ use of a lesser word.

21:18-19. Having established the motivation for service, Jesus went on to describe the turns Peter’s life would take. This brash, independent, vocal fisherman would one day be dependent, presumably a prisoner, and, many believe, a martyr. Only the Son of God could tell someone that following Him would lead to death and then immediately say, “Follow Me!”

21:20-21. We must not forget that Jesus spoke to a pre-Pentecost Peter. When he learned about his own death, Peter apparently glanced at John and asked a question about which he may have felt embarrassment for the rest of his life: “Lord, what about him?” He might have meant, “I’m more concerned about my brother John.” More likely, however, the Peter we know and love would have responded to the prophecy by saying, “If I have to die, so does John.”

21:22-23. Jesus’ response took the form of a mild rebuke and the command to follow. He allowed no comparison with how God leads others or what He gives them while we feel we may have endured great sacrifice. John would live longer than Peter, though there is no reason Peter would infer this from the text. The key is not how long John would live nor that he would live until the Lord’s return (the if looms large here). The main thing is that each Christian should follow Christ in whatever manner he or she is called.

Nevertheless, rumors spread among the brothers—a malady that has worsened in the church over two thousand years. John felt the need to correct it, so he stated the exact words of Jesus. John lived into his nineties, history tells us, but he certainly did not have an exemption from death. The argument had nothing to do with longevity or death; it focused exclusively on Peter’s attitude regarding God’s will for his life.

21:24. Without naming himself, John indicated he was the one referred to in that conversation. Now he wrote down what he saw and heard—an eyewitness record, hand-written and accurate. The words “we know that his testimony is true” may represent a possible affirmation by the early church. The “we” could actually refer to the Ephesian elders, or it might be the editorial pronoun we still use today to avoid choosing the first person.

21:25. The last verse of the Gospel of John represents what we call “hyperbole,” a deliberate exaggeration for dramatic effect. John wanted his readers to know he had just begun to tell the story. The words and works of Jesus were much greater than the record contained in his Gospel, the other Gospels, or the entire Bible. Nevertheless, on the basis of what he had written, John reminded us Jesus expects His people to believe and to make Him Lord of their lives, their service, and their futures.



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s no secret that in this day and age, life is fast-paced and demanding. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with all we have to do and the little time in which we have to do it. To make matters worse, we all carry guilt from our sins, feel stressed by the demands of those over us, and may even be struggling physically or emotionally. If we’re honest, we’re desperate for help. Yet when we struggle, we shouldn’t focus on our feelings but on what we know: God’s Word.

Some of the most comforting words in the Bible come from Matthew 11:28. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Notice, Jesus offers us His yoke. This means that work is still required of us, but it’s much easier with His help than it is all alone. Christ frees us from our burdens and promises us love, renewal, and a relationship with God. This allows our daily struggles to feel less like burdens and more like productivity and purpose. And when we feel like we simply can’t go on, God promises us the strength to overcome anything (Philippians 4:13). In Psalm 23, David says, “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.” Other translations say “He restores my soul”. In either case, the picture David paints in these passages is a clear example of the kind of rest and relaxation our spirits need to get through our most trying times. But to activate these promises in God’s Word, we must have faith. He is in control of all things and when we put our trust in the Lord, we’re giving him control of our lives, too.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

Have you ever seen someone break an arm? (Or maybe you’ve broken an arm, yourself!) What’s the first thing that happens? He or she cradles the broken limb in pain. And anyone who comes to help is extremely tender and gentle as they help. Keep this idea in mind as you read today’s devotional verse:

You see, the word “restore” in this verse means to reset a dislocated limb or broken bone. So, Paul is writing about dealing gently and tenderly with brothers and sisters in Christ who fall to sin. However, when you’re setting a broken bone, you also must be firm, direct, and strong. The process is called fracture reduction. The doctor’s goal is to get the broken ends of the bones as close together as possible. They must also be aligned. This way, the bones can grow back quickly and properly.

HOW TO RESTORE A BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST- This is a perfect metaphor for how to restore a brother or sister in Jesus. We must be gentle, tender, and understanding. However, we aren’t simply supposed to cradle their broken limb without helping set it back in place. There is a call to putting away sin—and as God’s family we help one another do so. Paul also reminds those who are “spiritual” to keep free from pride! Because the treachery of sinful hearts is that the very thing we condemn we often fall guilty of. Restoring a brother or sister in Jesus is like setting a bone: gentle in diagnosing, firm and biblically aligned in resetting.

Ask yourself today:

Am I a gracious person who people can confess sin to without fear I will inflict more damage on them?

Is there anyone in my faith family caught in sin who needs restored?

Have I fallen into the same sin I’ve condemned in other people?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:4-5

When I was growing up, there was a popular contemporary christian song that went like this: “…The building block which was rejected became the cornerstone of a whole new life….” Often, I have wondered if this song was actually related to today’s scripture.

I believe that this passage has strong implications for the church today. Through years of growth and decline, healthy times, conflicted times, suffering, joy, pain, and love, the church has withstood the tests. The church still stands today as it seeks to be a hopeful cornerstone in the midst of a hurting world. When one looks back at the beginning of the church through the present, we see ways in which the cornerstone of Christ encourages people who have stumbled.

When we look in the scriptures, Jesus encountered the woman at the well in John 4, and he offered her encouragement as well as love when He offered her “living water” to quench her thirst forever. When he restored life to Lazarus, Jesus was the cornerstone of hope and restored life. When He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He was the cornerstone of hope and renewed life upon which the church stood back then, and still stands today. The coming of this cornerstone was prophesied in Isaiah 28.

The cornerstone of Christ offers hope, redemption, and a new identity to all who call Him Lord. “…The building block which was rejected became the cornerstone of a whole new life and world….”

Adapted From: http:// shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:9-18


The apostle Paul sacrificed much. He faced hunger, shipwreck, beatings, and imprisonment to carry God’s Word to others. Consequently, he had every reason to expect the men and women he mentored to be faithful when he experienced a crisis. But Paul was virtually alone when he endured his Roman prison and trial before a government tribunal—only Luke continued to lend support.

Paul’s friends probably had reason to stay away—namely, fear that the tribunal would investigate them next, or confidence that the apostle’s faith would sustain him. Regardless of the reason, Paul had only these words for his deserters: “May it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16).

Paul’s words echo Stephen’s story. As Stephen was stoned for preaching the Word, Paul—at the time a Pharisee called Saul—looked on approvingly. When the apostle later repented after his experience on the road to Damascus, the memory of Stephen’s final words must have provided great comfort: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).

While resentment and anger seem justified when others fail us, we don’t have the right to withhold forgiveness. Regard- less of the pain someone inflicted or the loneliness his or her absence caused, God’s expectation doesn’t change: We should forgive because Jesus forgave us.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."

Mark 16:7

One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is Luke 22:61: “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Peter had just denied the Lord three times, but Jesus turned and looked at him.

How do you think the Lord looked at Peter? Knowing Jesus, I think it was a look of compassion. A look of love. A look of forgiveness. Jesus knew the denial was coming; He knew Peter was coming back. It was a look that said, “Peter, I still love you.”

Peter went out and wept bitterly. Understand that the disciples did not have this thing all figured out. They didn’t know that Jesus was going to die and rise from the dead.

So then when Jesus was crucified they thought, It is finished. There is no hope. Somehow they had missed the part where Jesus said, ” ‘They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again’ ” (Luke 18:33).

After the crucifixion, Peter was one hurting guy. He was thinking, I have failed. I wish I could undo what I did. But after Jesus rose from the dead, He sent this message: ” ‘Go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you’ ” (Mark 16:7). Isn’t that amazing?

Why do you think the Lord threw in Peter’s name? Because He knew Peter needed that reassurance. Peter was forgiven and restored by the Lord. And you know what? God will forgive you and restore you, too.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

John 21:7

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