FROM FAILURE TO Action John 18, 21 & Acts 4 OCTOBER 28, 2012 FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, USA Cathy JeffcoatsAs Cathy Jeffcoats mentioned in her CaringBridge page she is gaining her strengthback and taking several short walks each day. She enjoys hearing from you whether it is a note or card in the mail or on the CaringBridge page. It is most uplifting to her. Sunday, November 4th 5:00-5:50 p.m. Fellowship Hall East Several classes and individuals have signed up to compete for the title of the best chef! There will be a trophy for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners!
Date Night for Parents Friday, November 9th 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. For Infants - 6th grade Cost is $10.00 per child. Call Connie Foreman at (601) 949-1995 or e-mail Connie at: CForeman@FBCJ.org DEADLINE to register is Sunday, November 4th!Begin now praying for World Mission Week, November 7-11. There will be an AdultSunday School Rally for Young Married and Median Adults on Nov 11 at both the 9:00and 10:30 Sunday School hours. Breakfast foods will be provided. You will hear testimonies from three missionary couples.The lessons this month deal with the question: Is there life after failure? On October 7th, in John 4 we studied how Jesus moved the Samaritan woman at the well from failure to her salvation and then how that resulted in salvation for others. On October 14th we saw Abraham getting impatient with God and failing to wait on Him.
Today we will study that tender passage of how Jesus restored Peter after he had failed Christ so miserably by denying Him three times. All of these people had life after their failures because God worked in their lives to move them beyond those failures.Focal Passages:Do You Deny Christ? (John 18:15-18, 25b-27)Do You Really Love Christ? (John 21:15-19)Do You Stand Up for Christ? (Acts 4:13, 18-20) Many of us have good intentions to do the right thing, but we falter when the time comes. Jesus forgives, restores, and desires to use us. Like Peter, we can learn to rely on God’s power and boldly serve Him. We can be restored to usefulness in God’s service regardless of previous failure.
All of us can relate to starting out with good intentions to take a step for Christ, but then we retreat. Failure makes us think we’ve been shelved from the Lord’s service. Peter’s experience with failure shows us what the Lord has in mind for us when we let Him down. He loves us and wants to restore us so we can serve.Do You Deny Christ?John 18:15-18, 25b-2715 “Meanwhile, Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple. Thatdisciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he went with Jesus into the highpriest’s courtyard. 16 But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the otherdisciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the girl who was thedoorkeeper and brought Peter in.17 Then the slave girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of thisman’s disciples too, are you?”“I am not!” he said. 18 Now the slaves and the temple police had made a charcoalfire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming themselves, and Peterwas standing with them, warming himself.25b They said to him, “You aren’t one of His disciples too, are you?”He denied it and said, “I am not!”26 One of the high priest’s slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off,said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the garden?”27 Peter then denied it again. Immediately a rooster crowed.” John 18:15-18, 25b-27 Peter is the most frequently mentioned disciple in the Gospels. He was born in Bethsaida which had many Gentiles and this may have prepared him for his later involvement in the church’s outreach to the Gentiles. Peter was a spokesman for and the leader of the disciples. He is only one of two people who have walked on water and that passage in
Matthew 14 provides a portrait of the sincere struggle of every believer: impetuous, attempting great things, diving in but then doubting, groping, sinking – faith inundated. He represented the other disciples when he confessed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God!” As we heard from Jim Shaddix last week, that was the correct answer but it was not yet a complete faith. Dr. Jim Shaddix At that point, it was a cross-less gospel and was therefore, no Gospel at all. When Jesus responded to Peter’s confession by speaking with His disciples for the first time about the necessity of His death, Peter rebuked Him. Peter wanted to see Jesus as a conquering, victorious Messiah in accordance with the Jewish messianic expectation of his day. Peter neither could fathom nor stomach a suffering, dying Messiah. He could not trust the words of Jesus and for such, he received Jesus’ sternest rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mark 8:33). The same can be said for the incident at the transfiguration. Peter was the one to suggest that three tents be provided so they could bask in the heavenly splendor forever (Mark 9), thus attempting to bypass the crucifixion again and go straight to the resurrection glory. In Mark 14, when they were on their way to Gethsemane, Jesus predicted that all the disciples would fall away and that is when Peter said, “Even though they all fall away, I will not”. It was then that Jesus predicted Peter’s denial to which Peter vehemently
protested, “I will not deny You”. Peter did take a stand for Christ in the Garden when he drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10-11). What a stark contrast is presented shortly thereafter when this valiant warrior who shortly before was ready to singly take on an armed host now shrinks before the idle babbling of a servant girl and denies his Master (Mark 14:69). Today’s passage, John 21:15-19, gives us the fullest description of Peter’s rehabilitation. Here we are told how Jesus drew from Peter a threefold affirmation of his love and directed him three times to “feed My sheep”. Not only does this serve to redeem Peter from his threefold denial, it also prepares for his pastoral role of shepherding the young Christian church. In this passage, Peter is depicted in more than a representative role for the disciples and is given a degree of preeminence and leadership among them. Along with James and John, Peter belonged to that “inner circle” of three whom Jesus took along to participate in such significant events as the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the transfiguration, and the agony of Gethsemane. In my opinion, those who seek to be closest to the Lord here on earth will be rewarded with being closest to Him in Heaven. In the lists of disciples Peter is always named first and Matthew adds that Peter was protos, a Greek work which implies first in prominence as well as in order (Matthew 10:2). In the sermon last week, Peter was singled out for special words from Jesus when He designated Peter’s confession as the rock upon which He would build His church. Peter was also given the keys of admittance to Heaven, which is closely
connected with the authority to bind and to loose. It is so encouraging to note that Jesus told Peter at the Last Supper that “when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). The ultimate fulfillment of Jesus’ restoring Peter to usefulness occurs after the resurrection when Peter becomes the leader of the young church. The first twelve chapters of the book of Acts unmistakably depict Peter in this role. He directed the replacement of Judas, he preached the sermon which led to the conversion of 3,000 souls, he directed the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira, and it was Peter who put the stamp of approval on Philip’s Samaritan mission. Then, there is a clear shift in Peter’s role from church leader/administrator to missionary. Acts 12:1-6 describes Peter’s imprisonment and miraculous escape from the grip of Herod Agrippa. After escaping, Peter said farewell to the Jerusalem congregation, turned the leadership over to James (the half brother of Jesus) and departed “to another place”. Peter appeared again only once, at the Jerusalem Council, and even then he spoke as a missionary. After that, the NT consistently depicts Peter in the role of missionary: that is what being an apostle implies – one to whom the risen Lord had appeared and given a special commission for missionary witness. Paul confronted Peter for “insincerity” because Peter had been enjoying fellowship with the Gentile Christians but withdrew when James put pressure on
him. Paul and Peter had shared the same accepting attitude toward Gentiles and it was this withdrawal that made Peter appear so inconsistent. In 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter exhorts the elders of the churches to serve as good shepherds under the Great Shepherd because that is what Peter had become in carrying out his Master’s charge, “feed my sheep”. When Peter calls himself a witness (martus) of the sufferings of Christ in 1 Peter 5:1, he is referring to his own impending death since our English word “martyr” comes from that same Greek word “martus”. By the end of his life, Peter understood that the Gospel has to include the cross. He requested to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. Dr. Polhill is professor of NT interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.Do You Really Love Christ?John 21:15-1915 “When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, doyou love Me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”“Feed My lambs,” He told him.16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord,You know everything! You know that I love You.”“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. 18 “I assure you: When you were young, you would tieyour belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch outyour hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.”19 He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this,He told him, “Follow Me!” John 21:15-19 After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared to some of His disciples who had gone fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and He prepared breakfast for them. There He initiated a conversation with Peter that reflected His love for His disciple who had failed (18:28–21:14). On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter answered three questions by denying Him 3 times. Now in the conversation after breakfast, Jesus also asked him 3 questions. Each of them had to do with Peter’s love for Jesus. Also, they emphasized Jesus’ love for Peter and His willingness to restore him. The issue that Jesus raised with Peter involved love and the way He wanted the
failed disciple to express it in the future. What did Jesus have in mind when He mentioned these in His question to Peter? If He pointed to the fish in the net, He was asking Peter if he loved Him enough to leave his nets and serve full-time in kingdom service. Jesus could have been asking Peter whether he loved Him more than the other disciples who had gone fishing with him did (21:2). The question got to the priority of Peter’s devotion to Christ. Peter recognized that Jesus knew what was in his heart. For that reason, Peter didn’t try to deceive Jesus or keep anything from Him. He told Jesus the absolute truth about his love for Him. Jesus responded to Peter’s answer by calling him to ministry. Peter had been a fisherman all of his life. Now Jesus directed him to be a shepherd. In his role as a shepherd, Peter wouldn’t tend to his own sheep. Instead, he would be feeding the Lord’s lambs. In other words, Christ commissioned Peter to devote himself exclusively to ministering to people who would belong to Him. Simon Peter could both soar to great heights and sink to great depths; he could either hit a home run or strike out. When Jesus had first called Peter to be His disciple, He had given him a miraculous haul of fish (Luke 5:1-10) and then called him to be a fisher of men. Now, three years later, Jesus gave him another miraculous haul of fish (John 21:4-6, 10-11). *Peter knew from this miracle that Jesus was the One along the shoreline and he jumped out of the boat in his eagerness to see Jesus again (John 21:7-8, 12).
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him (one for each denial) and each time He addressed him as “Simon, son of John” instead of “Peter”, the name Jesus Himself had given Peter after his affirmation of Jesus’ divinity. Jesus was offering Peter a second chance to live like the Peter whose faith was like a rock. The first two times Jesus used the word agapao and Peter replied with phileo. On the third question, they both used the word phileo. When Jesus told Peter to “feed My lambs” or “tend My sheep” He was using four different words. The three commands alternate four words – two different words regarding the task to be done and two different words regarding those to whom the ministry was to be performed. The two words regarding the ministry Peter was to have are boske (feed in vv. 15-17) and poimaine (tend or shepherd in v. 16). The ministry was to be performed for Jesus’ arnia (lambs in v 15) and for His probata (sheep in vv. 16-17). In v 15 He said “feed My lambs” and after the third question, “feed My sheep” in v 17. Feed = providing the flock with spiritual nourishment. Jesus instructed Peter to provide spiritual sustenance for both the young lambs in v 15 and the older sheep in v 17. Jesus second command was “tend my sheep” which includes feeding, guiding, protecting and caring for them. In an interesting play on words in the book of Revelation, the Lamb of God will Himself become the Great Shepherd (Rev 7:17). Peter took Jesus’ command to heart to be an under-shepherd because in 1 Peter 5:2-4 he urged his fellow elders to shepherd the flock of God lovingly until the Chief Shepherd returned. Steve Lemke is provost at NOBTS.
Jesus’ response to Peter’s reply made His commission to His failed disciple perfectly clear. From that moment on, Peter would devote himself to ministry. Peter didn’t need to see himself as a disciple who failed to live up to his commitment to Christ. Now he could see himself as a restored disciple who had a renewed call from his Lord to minister to people who would belong to Him. Like Peter, we can rest assured that when we return to Christ after having failed Him, we can expect Him to respond to us with love and willingness to restore us. When we falter as believers, we cannot allow ourselves to conclude we’re useless to Him now. Because He loves us, the Lord wants to work in our hearts to restore us. In response to Him, we do well to do what He’s calling us to do. We display our love for Him by living out what we believe about Him. In due time, others would take control of his life and bring it to an end. At the same time, Jesus assured Peter that God would be glorified in the way he would die. Then Jesus commanded Peter to follow Him. Following Jesus into the future would exhibit Peter’s love for Him. Despite any fears Peter could have had that he might have disqualified himself from Jesus’ service, Jesus still had plans for Peter. If you have failed Jesus but stand ready to earnestly, sincerely affirm your love for Him, He stands ready to use you, too.Do You Stand Up for Christ?Acts 4:13, 18-2013 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they wereuneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they hadbeen with Jesus.
18 So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in thename of Jesus.19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us tolisten to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speakingabout what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:13, 18-20 At the festival called Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came, and Peter proclaimed a dynamic Christ-centered message in His power. As a result of the Spirit’s work through Peter’s message, 3000 people were saved (Acts 1:4–2:42). Soon afterward, Peter preached again, and many more people received Christ. The religious leaders tried to put a stop to Peter’s preaching. They arrested him and John and threw them into jail. After spending the night there, the religious leaders called the two disciples to appear before them and explain why they preached about Christ (4:1-12). Peter spoke up with such boldness about Jesus the religious leaders reacted with astonishment to Peter’s defense of his message (v. 13). Obviously, Peter’s boldness had surprised them. His courageous proclamation about Christ in the presence of the religious leaders stood in stark contrast to his denials of Christ on the night of His arrest. Then he had behaved like a coward, denying he even knew Jesus. Now he stood up for Jesus and caught his accusers off guard with his confidence. Peter’s life was different because of Jesus. When Jesus confronted Peter in love at breakfast with a desire to restore him, things began to change for the faltering disciple. He became a loyal apostle who would never again deny Jesus. He personified fearlessness in the face of opposition. When the Holy Spirit came, He empowered Peter to preach with confidence the message of salvation through Christ the Lord, whom he loved with his whole heart. The dynamic change in Peter’s life serves as an encouraging example to us.
When we find ourselves defeated by our failures to live out our convictions about Christ, we don’t have to settle for being sidelined. Neither should our failures force us into the shadows of shyness when it comes to letting others see Christ in us. Like Peter, we can go from timidity to boldness when we turn to the Lord for help. We can trust Him to strengthen us with His presence so we can serve Him with confidence. And like Peter and John, people will see our boldness and recognize that we have been with Jesus. The Holy Spirit who had empowered them to preach made them bold as they took their stand for Christ in the presence of the religious leaders. Notice in particular the kind of information Peter and John would declare in their message about Jesus. They did not intend to speak about Him using second-hand information. Instead, they would preach Christ based simply on their personal encounters with Him. They would share without restraint what they had seen and heard for themselves. In doing so, they would give first-hand, vibrant testimony of Christ. Incidentally, that’s the kind of information Jesus wanted them to share when He instructed them to bear witness of Him once the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:6-8).Acts 1:6-86 “So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring thekingdom to Israel at this time?”7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set byHis own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you,and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to theends of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8 Boldness in proclaiming Christ continues to be the order of our day. No matter how badly we may have failed Jesus in the past, we can count on His Spirit to enable us to take our stand for Him now. Of course, taking a stand for Him means speaking up for Him and bearing witness of His presence and power.
However, it also means living according to His ways even when it’s not popular. Likewise, we take a stand for Him when we make decisions that please Him in our families, friendships, and other relationships. In the same way, we stand up for Him when we reflect His character in our interactions with others. If you consider yourself useless to Christ because you failed Him in the past, think again. Peter shows that the Lord loves us and wants to restore us to usefulness. He’s more than willing to help us go from failure to action for His glory. Perhaps He’s nudging you right now about a conversation with Him that could change your life.Truths of This Lesson We may surprise ourselves with our timidity and our failure to take advantage of opportunities to stand up for Christ. When we fail, we can live in the assurance that Jesus knows how to restore us by helping us focus on love for Him and willingness to follow Him. Christ’s working in us through His Spirit can transform us from being timid to being confident and courageous as we serve Him. No matter how badly we have failed, Jesus stands ready to love us back into usefulness in His service. Next week: Pray with dependency on God to transform lives. Acts 4