Reframing Restoration | John 21

September 1, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: REFRAMING JESUS | Portraits of Glory from John's Gospel

Topic: New Testament Passage: John 21:1–25

Christopher Rich – September 1, 2019


Reframing Restoration | John 21


Introduction | We Fail   

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today, after nearly a year, we are concluding our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.  In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.


We have all failed.  How have you failed? What is a time in your life that you have looked back at and said I wish I would have handled that differently? When have you known what is expected of you, or what is good and right and you have just totally blown it? If you cannot think of one time then you might be in pride and have more moments others can easily recall. We all have moments of failure, none of us have or will navigate life perfectly. These moments of failure are powerful and can become larger the longer they’re in the rearview as we begin to think about how these failures have an impact on our present, the path we’ve taken since and the one we’re on now. If we’re not careful we can easily fall into despair as we allow our failures to define us. We keep thinking if we had a do over or just could go back to neutral and restart from there we’d be more successful or joyful. The original Nintendo had two buttons on the consol. Power and… Reset. We know we need Power and life, but when we start the game and fail we could go back to the beginning. We confuse restoration with a reset. If we can just go back to neutral, if we can just start over then we’ll do better and be better. We try this with new houses, jobs, even spouses, or another life.  Fundamentally it’s still us navigating a different setting or situation. Where do you need more than a reset, but you need restoration? God answers our need to have our failures addressed not with a reset or do over but with radical renewal in and by Jesus. Today we are Reframing Restoration.


PART I | We Retreat, We Receive |John 21:1-14 

John 21:1-14 | 1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

We Fail, We Retreat. Disciples are failures. Everyone has failed God at some point. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one has succeeded in following Jesus perfectly, even those who were with Jesus for three years. Peter in particularly was a high-profile failure. He boldly pledged his, “I’ll follow you to death” allegiance to Jesus and the very same night while Christ was under trial and brutal abuse, Peter denied he even knew Jesus three distinct times. Devastating, epic, fail. The rest of the disciples were not much better as they chose fear of man over faithfulness to Jesus. Suffering death by crucifixion (for our sin in our place), buried, then resurrected, Jesus is alive. He’s meet with the disciples at least twice already (once with Thomas, once without) told them how He brings them peace, and now they’ve gone to Galilee as they’ve been instructed . Seven of them together and there is a loss of focus already. Led by Peter, disciples who have met the risen Jesus, been given the Holy Spirit, sent on mission are still weary and ready to abandon the mission for the life they have known before (fishing) and they meet futility.


When we’ve failed, we retreat to where we’ve experienced success. Peter stands for our proclivity to get tired on what God has called us to, give up, and go back. Jesus first called Peter from fishing to be a fisher of men actively leading others to trust and follow Jesus. He hasn’t been released from what Jesus has called him to, even with his failure. Where do you easily enjoy success? What is so natural to the way you’re wired that it comfortable to function on autopilot? I’m not talking about rest and renewal or how you’ve been gifted. When, I am struggling or hurting my default is to simply do more or work harder. I’ll load up my schedule, stay busy, attempt to accomplish and sometimes it even works. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be if it’s being used to mask engaging with where you’ve failed or what God has called you too. Being busy and active is way easier than being still and quiet to process how you are.


God is good to let us fail where we’ve been strong. It’s not crazy to strike out going fishing. However, this isn’t a recreation activity spending a nice afternoon on the water with some friends and soda pops. This is business. The crew is made up of experienced fishermen. They know the water, they know the time of day/night. They’re equipped with boats and nets. They did all the things they know how to do, and it produced NOTHING. This is God being good to us to not let us always enjoy success that comes from relying on ourselves rather than relying on Him. It’s good to uncomfortable when we’re not doing what God has called us to or when we are doing what God hasn’t called us to so we can be reliant on Him. 


God is always more able to bless us than we are able to achieve. A sleepless night of hard labor met with complete failure. That’s not rest, or renewal. That’s exhausting. Jesus asks them what they’ve produced with all their efforts. They have nothing, they’ve accomplished nothing. Jesus tells them to try again. This is different. There labor/effort is bless and produces a great abundance. They recognize rightly it’s Jesus who worked because He’s done this before. In the presence and direction of Jesus, they are more successful in their efforts than could ever be expected. We cannot through our efforts achieve more than we are able to receive from God’s blessing/favor to us. Peter, overwhelmed knowing Jesus is with them dives in the water and swims to Jesus, while everyone brings the boat and fish back to shore.


Jesus has prepared provision for us that we have not earned. Jesus prepares calls them together for breakfast. There is such great intentionality in how Jesus meets us in our places of failure. Look at the details. There is a charcoal fire going, fish grilling so the meal is ready to eat, bread laid out. Jesus put on a spread. He asks for some of the fish “they” just caught to add to the meal. But for both the meal and the catch, they didn’t earn the fish. None of them could have an attitude of “look what we caught” it’s all what they have been given by Jesus. All we bring to the table is what Jesus has already given and blessed us with.

PART II | Jesus Restores | John 21:15-19

John 21:15-19 |15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”


Restoration has a Context - A prepared meal and intentional fellowship is the context Jesus uses for restoration. The disciples have been pursued by Jesus, they’ve been blessed by Jesus in their efforts, they’ve received a meal and provision from Jesus that He’s prepared for them. They have retreated in their failure and now they’ve received by the grace of Jesus alone. Nothing they’ve done has earned how Jesus has responded to them. After receiving abundance material provision from Jesus, Peter is going to receive restoration. Jesus engages with Peter in a context where He can be both clear and gentle. They’re walking on a beach.


Restoration is Reorientation – As Jesus begins dive into Peter’s heart He starts with what is a proper orientation. Peter, you’ve just experienced one of the largest catches of fish in your fishing career. You’ve enjoyed a well-prepared meal on the beach with other disciples. There are all great things to receive! Don’t be guilty when you enjoy good things from a good God.  But, do you love me more than you love these? Translation: Do you love Jesus more than what you can get from Jesus? We experience restoration as much as we have an orientation towards Jesus that sees being reconciled to/with Him as the greatest thing we can receive. Being with Jesus is the means to a better life, life with Jesus IS the better life.


Restoration is Comprehensive- Peter’s failure was comprehensive, so his restoration needs to be too. Peter’s earlier threefold denial of Jesus are answers by threefold affirmation of Jesus, prompted by Jesus, for Peter. In this Jesus leads Peter through a process He actively participates that brings him restoration. Jesus doesn’t focus on Peter’s deep sin and failure, He is repeatedly calling out his deepest desire. Restoration incudes and begins with sin being forgiven but it’s so much more than a reset back to neutral. Yes you sin is paid for so your debt is erased. That is good news! There are time’s in our life we’d love to see simply “zero” over a negative. But Jesus does more than take us back to neutral. Restoration is making some better than it’s fallen condition, “restoring” it to it’s original condition AND it’s original purpose.


Restoration has a Response - The Response to the love of Jesus is living on the mission of Jesus. Peter was to be the rock that Jesus said He was going to use to build His church where the gates of hell won’t prevail against. Peter’s failure looked like it was the end of his ministry and his part in the mission. Restoration is more than looking over his failure it is returning him back to what he’s been called to. Peter receives great peace, but his restoration is for the express purpose of Peter being on mission for the gospel including the care and leadership of Jesus flock/church. Jesus has one mission but a unique purpose for each disciple. 


Restoration calls us from comfort - Peter is restored to lead, care, and feed Jesus sheep. It’s important to note while Peter has a role, we have a role, Jesus is clear the sheep are HIS. Three times Peter is called to feed “My sheep” Jesus is the great shepherd. Even if when you’re called to lead all that are restored to lead are also and restored to follow.  Those that care for Jesus sheep are also shepherd by Jesus. Jesus restores us all in just the way we need it for the mission He’s called us to. This won’t always be easy. We’ve been restore to lead a a new life not for ourselves and our desires only but for what Jesus has prepared for us. Sometimes that will be to follow him in the places and ways we wouldn’t choose but He knows are both best for us and for His purposes. If you are restored by Jesus it is to respond by following Jesus.


Restoration is evident to others and for the edification of others – Why do we know about Peter’s restoration? John told us! We don’t read about this in Peters letters. John says years after Peter’s death knows the church is aware of Peter’s failure (it’s in other gospel accounts) and he want’s Peter’s restoration to be as famous and known as his failure. “I saw Jesus specifically and clearly restore Peter, so you can have confidence in his ministry AND so you can be comforted that our God is Jesus is one who works greater restoration in great failures. You can also have comfort moving forward that current restoration isn’t the same as current perfection. Peter still had an imperfect ministry and even struggled to get the point here.


PART III | Remaining Focused |John 21:20-25

John 21:20-25 |20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. 25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.


Individual failures has individual restoration – Jesus work is universal enough to cover and change anyone in their sin and Jesus’ work is unique to each of us. We can know Jesus has one purpose for His disciples His glory, but know that is played out with different plans. Comparing the calling, blessings, or challenges of another keeps us from focusing on what Jesus has called us to do. We’ll lose focus on what Jesus is working to accomplish in our lives when we turn our attention to how we hope He works in other’s lives. Regardless of how Jesus is using others we are repeatedly reminded “Don’t worry about them, you follow me”


A world full of books can’t contain all the works of God in Jesus, yet God is so good and gracious to give us glorious portraits we can gaze at to understand His nature and character (Love, Truth, Light, Life) In His presence we can experience His abundance and peace, restoration we need that is specific to our failures and sin, and purposes we can know are for all His people and are applied uniquely to our individual lives. Restored life with Jesus for the purpose of mission is not without difficulty or suffering, but it will lead to the peace and presence of Jesus.


John begins with Jesus THE word credited with the work of the creation of the world and all that is in it. John ends with the words of the works of Jesus not being able to be contained. We also have the great hope that Jesus will return bring a final and complete restoration of all things to a better than new place of incorruptibility where failure, sin, and death, are not even an option. We have a God who does so much more than give us a reset. We have been redeemed and are being restored for His glory when we Trust Jesus.

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