Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; January 17, 2016; John 21:1-14; Acts 3:1-7

This week we will start a new series of messages about being Jesus’ representatives in the world that we live in.

This week Scriptures are John 21:1-14; Acts 3:1-7

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV

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Today’s reading from the Gospel of John happens after Jesus’ crucifixion and before the first Pentecost. After events of Easter, the Disciples left Jerusalem and went back to their old lives by the Sea of Galilee. I suspect that they did not know what else they could do; I suspect they had a difficult time trying to reimagine and to reinvent their lives now that Jesus was not physically with them. That is why they left the lives that they had built with Jesus back in Jerusalem. They went back to the lives that they knew before they even met Jesus. At the Cross, their lives SEEMINGLY fell apart, and they had to go back to the comfort of something that felt safe and familiar.

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That is when the disciples heard, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (John 21:5)[1]. Isn’t that just like Jesus, to call on us when we have hit rock bottom? Isn’t it just like Jesus to call on us when we are trying to occupy our hands and bodies with mindless tasks because we don’t know what else to do? Isn’t it just like Jesus to call on us when there is no hope in our heart, when we don’t even know how to face the next day?

Just like that, Jesus was there. That morning the Disciples learned that it is possible to change your location, but it is not that easy to leave Jesus behind. It is possible to run, but it is not possible to hide from God.

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That is why the Disciples were so embarrassed when Jesus invited them to share a meal with him. That is why they did not dare to even lift their eyes to Jesus (John 21:12).

That is when this dialogue with Peter took place.

NIV2010 John 21: 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.”

In the interest of full disclosure, there is more in that exchange than meets the eye. To understand these intricacies, we need to dig into the ancient Greek, which is a topic of a different sermon. All that I want to say today is that this exchange happened three (3) times. In essence, Jesus told Peter that he is a human being, that all humans make mistakes and that it is time to stop moping around and get busy about his Heavenly Father’s business.

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It is totally possible to hear this reading and say, “That’s it, I am going to spend all my time, money, and energy at the Hope Dining Room downstairs.” After all, doesn’t Jesus call us to “feed” his sheep.

The reality is, however, that we cannot eradicate hunger on our own. The world that we live in is too big for us to be able to do that. What is even worse, we live in a fallen world and that means that when we get what we need and what we want, almost immediately every one of us realizes that we want something else. We will run out of resources before we satisfy the wants of everyone who demands things from us, and we will end up burned out and frustrated.

So what do we do? What gift can we bring?

Today we heard Jesus instructing Peter to “feed [his] sheep,” to be a leader among the followers of Jesus. We know how Peter put Jesus’ instructions to use. Let us consider a reading from Acts 3.

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Acts 3:1-7 NIV2010  Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

Acts 3: 1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.

Peter demonstrated that one way we can help others is to help them to find a way to meet their own needs. Peter enabled and encouraged the beggar to become the best version of what he was created to become. That is what Jesus’ ministry was about. {Illustration.}

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“Feed my sheep” (John 21:17) became “I give you Jesus” (Acts 3:6). We feed God’s sheep by helping them to see God clearer, love God more, and follow God closer with every day of their lives. And by the way, each one of us is God’s sheep as well… It is not about “them” out there; there is no “them,” it is all “us.”

We live in a troubled world. Who among us does not have their share of problems and frustrations? We see needs everywhere and it is not possible or even feasible for us to address all the needs that we encounter.

What is practical is to bring Jesus to the needs that we see. What is practical is to be God’s hands and feet in the world around us, doing what we can with what we have. What is practical is to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to the needs around us.

So how do we do that?

{Illustrations from the personal practice of ministry}

Every time that we reach out and let our neighbors know that God is welcomed and active in this community, we bring them Jesus. Every one of these encounters is a seed planted. Some seeds will sprout, some seeds will not. Some seeds will grow here in this community; some other seeds will decide to go somewhere else.

clip_image014Our job is to bring Jesus with us to every encounter and to plant seeds of hope in the lives of our neighbors. Most of them already know Jesus. Our job is to find those who made a choice for whatever reason to not associate with any church and invite them to make a home here, to grow in faith with us.

= = = = Footnote = = = =

[1] Gospels record two miraculous catches of fish.

The first is reported in the Gospel of Luke (5:1–11), and takes place early in the ministry of Jesus. As a result of the first miraculous catch of fish, Peter, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, joined Jesus as his students and disciples. The second miraculous catch of fish is reported in John (21:1-14) and takes place after the Resurrection of Jesus.

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