FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
SUNDAY MAY 5TH 2019
TEXTS: JOHN 21: 1 – 19
THEME: DO YOU LOVE ME? JESUS ASKS
In our story today Jesus appear to the disciples the third time. This can confirm to us that Peter knew about the risen Lord and yet decided to quit and go back fishing. When I think of this word quit, I am reminded of young boy about 9 years old whose parents were good friends of mine. The boy had joined wrestling and he seemed to do well at the beginning of the season until one day he was asked to wrestle with this one girl who was very good. The boy tried had but each time he got pinned down. That day he lost to three girls and after the last march he went to his parent and told them, “I quit wrestling.” The parents tried to get him back but he refused and that was it for rest of the season even though he accompanied his parents to go and watch his older brother wrestle who was not as good as him. The following year he decided to go back to wrestling but his parenst were not sure if they wanted to spend money on him again for they were afraid that he might quit on them again. But he assured them he was not going to quit and he never did.
The story of Peter today is that of disciple who had decided to call it quit. We may not be too sure of the details of him wanting to quite other than wanted to go back the what he used to be. Therefore, we may not totally blame him.
I do not know about you but there are times in life when we feel like we would like to quit. I remember a retired Methodist pastor friend of mine who would jokingly tell me “every Monday he felt like he was going to call it quit” but before the weekend he would find himself busy serving the Lord. There are two things here that I would like to bring to our attention: There is the feeling and there is the action. A farmer who loses a crop due to a bad weather may feel like quitting, a business person who makes a bad business decision one time may feel like quitting, a student who fails and important exam may feel like quitting and the list can go on and on. Therefore, what I am trying to say here is the feeling is not bad for we are bound to have all these kinds of feeling in every aspect of life. I believe the challenge is to stay on and experience the faithfulness of the Lord. People quit too quickly before they can experience how God is able to redeem them. Young person quits school because they think that it is too much work and pressure on them and the life out there is better just to realize down the road, they should have stayed on and continued with school. There are a number of things that make people want to quit: Frustrations, failure, discouragement, fear, pressure, misinformation, health………
There are times though when quitting is the right thing to do, like if we are to quit some addiction and other bad behaviors, a toxic environment or where someone is being hurt because of you.
I also want you to know that if you scan through the bible you will find people and characters that decided to quit for one reason or the other. But the real blessing comes from those who are willing not to quit or to give up.
We can list many more reason why people would like to quit not only on their faith but also in their other daily life issues. But more often than not people will quit for wrong reasons. When we look at the case of Peter and the other six disciples (Simon Peter, Thomas, John and James and two other disciples), we can easily conclude that when they went fishing they were calling the ministry quit. Though we can’t fully understand the reasons why Peter decided to go back fishing, but can only speculate. Peter and the other disciples may have felt that their ministry was over with Jesus death and hence needed to go back to their old ways. Or maybe they were seeing the dangers of continuing with the ministry and they figured it was safer to do what they already knew what to do. Whatever the reason one thing we know from the scripture is that they never caught anything for that night even though they were experienced fishermen. But when Jesus told them where to throw the net, they had a good catch. Jesus in this story focuses on the leader of the team Simon Peter. I wanted Peter to honestly confirm if he truly loved Jesus if so, he needed to show it by the care and love he had for God’s people. By Jesus asking “Do you love me? He was reminding his disciples of the following truths:
- We can’t quit on Jesus: When you visit a hospital or you are in situation where CPR is being administered one of the phrases I have heard is “don’t quit on us” simply encouraging the patient to keep on fighting. I am simply saying to myself and to you today do not quit on Jesus for he will not quit on you. If you love Jesus don’t quit on him. He reminds us that he will neither leave us nor forsake us no matter what we go through. People have been known to quit on God because of frustration at home, at work, out of fear, discouragement, failure, misinformation or even health. Today we are reminding ourselves never to quit on Jesus love for he will be faithful on his part. Jesus stood at the shore and called them friends even though they had quit preaching and went back fishing. This friend who they did not recognize at the beginning tells them to throw the net on the right side and sure enough they had a big catch. This tells us that Jesus was not ready to quit on his disciples even when they were trying to quit on him. To Peter he said, do you love me? then, take care of my sheep. In the same way Jesus is telling us to hold for he is faithful. Jesus is putting the same question as he did to Peter, do you love me? Then, if you do reach out in love.
- We need to love Jesus above everything else: After Jesus gave the disciples something to eat, he turned his attention to Peter who was the leader of the group and asked him, “Peter do you love me more than these?” While we may not fully know what the word “these” referred to we can speculate that it might have meant more than going back to catch fish or more than his friends. We remember from the beginning Peter was called to be a fisher of people. By him going back is like what we can call in our language today backsliding. “These” might also mean his life but whatever it was Peter was being reminded to let go and have God take charge. Sometimes we hold so much to what we have that we do not allow God to take us in a new horizon. A story is told of a person who was ship wrecked and found himself on an island at the middle of the sea. For many days he tried everything to catch the attention of the ship that were passing many miles away with no success. Finally, he decided to build a small shelter from some the wreck material and put in his few possessions. He would go out look for something to eat and sleep in this new found shelter. On day as he came back from his search for food, he found his shelter on fire. He was so mad with God for taking away the only small security he had. He slept out in the cold that night just to woken up by a blow of a loud noise of an approaching ship. When inquired how they knew he was there the response was “we saw your smoke signal” God may burn your shelter because he wants you to move on to better and greater things. Peter and his friend tried to fish the whole night without luck so that the master can tell them where to through the net.
- Jesus knows our mistakes and he is ready to take us back: Sometimes we quit because of our sin and the devil keeps on whispering to our ears that we can’t get back to God because of our actions. But God through Jesus reminds us that all our transgressions can be forgiven and like the prodigal son he is willing to take us back. Jesus is making an open invitation to each one of us this morning to come back. To each one here he asks us, “do you love me? The answer to this question is very personal. Nobody can answer for you. You search your heart and know what it means to love God. Jesus is willing to give us a second chance to get back to him. Jesus does not give up on us just because we have taken a wrong turn but rather pursues us with his loving voice. We have to remind ourselves without Jesus our hard work brings frustration. We see this in the life of these disciples who had opted to go back to what they knew which was fishing. They spend the whole night but caught nothing but when Jesus shows up and tell them the side to throw their net, they had such a large catch that they invited other fishermen to help them bring in. Jesus in similar manor is inviting us this morning to go back to his calling that he called us to be fishers of people. That is our first call. We have vocation that we are engaged with each day but God is calling us to be that light or that beacon that leads or point us to Christ.