Listen to it here.
SPOILERS from here on out!
In comparison to other first-person sermons I’ve done (King Darius, Roman Centurion, man possessed by Legion, Barabbas, King Herod, etc.) this was a quiet one. But it was emotionally charged. It came from the closing story in John 21 where Jesus restores Simon Peter.
There were a couple details I was thrilled to find and use in the sermon:
1. When Peter swims to shore, John recorded that Jesus was cooking fish and bread over a charcoal fire. It is a bizarre detail to include in the text. Who cares what kind of fire it was? But John, like all the biblical writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was brilliant. When Peter denied Jesus the three times before the crucifixion, he did so in close proximity to a fire. And guess what kind of fire it was? That’s right! A charcoal fire! This was a wonderful detail for John to use in Peter’s restoration story because it subconsciously harkens the reader back to Peter’s betrayal . . . and I think communicates to us, that Jesus knew what Peter did.
2. Jesus concludes his restoration of Peter with two words, “Follow me.” Now, John doesn’t go into Peter and Andrew’s calling as much as Matthew, Mark and Luke do. So I cheated a little bit here. I went outside of John’s gospel to Mark’s (Matthew would have worked too) and I used Jesus’ first words to Simon Peter from this gospel to bookend the entire message. I don’t think this was necessarily wrong, though, because John wrote his gospel significantly later than the synoptics. Both John and the majority of his readers would have been familiar with the other gospels. So, when John records Jesus telling Peter “Follow me” at the conclusion of the story, most readers are going to remember Jesus calling Peter out of the boat three years prior. (In John, though, Jesus called Nathaniel and Philip with these two words as well.)
There wasn’t a lot of action in this story . . . but there was a ton of emotion. Peter failed Jesus and had to face him again! Amazing human drama. Praise God for restoration!