April 7, 2013

Jesus, the Loving - Apr 7, 2013

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As the basis for our sermon today, we read the Holy Spirit’s Words as found in…

John 21:1-14 (NASB)

1After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 4But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5So Jesus said to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?"
They answered Him, "No."
            6And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch." So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
7Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 9So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have now caught."
11Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.
12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples ventured to question Him, "Who are You?" knowing that it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Risen and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

After you get done reading this account of how Jesus appeared on the beach of the Sea of Tiberias, you have to wonder, “Why?”. Why did Jesus appear to His disciples in this way?

On the first evening after His resurrection Jesus had appeared to His disciples in a locked room in Jerusalem. Only Thomas had been missing. A week later in that same room, Jesus had appeared again, this time showing Thomas the nail holes, and the gaping wound the Roman soldier’s spear had left in His side.

Jesus wanted His followers to have no doubt that He had truly risen from the dead. And so, even though they had already seen Him alive, and had even touched His nail pierced hands and feet, He came to them once again on the beach in the early morning.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, the disciples had seen Him do the miraculous. They had seen Him heal the blind with mud. They had seen Him cure leprosy with a touch. They had seen Him walk the waters of a raging storm and calm a squall by simply commanding it to be still. They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead. And Jesus had even filled Peter’s nets with fish once before on this same lake.

When Jesus filled their nets with fish this second time in the early morning gloom, it was almost in inside joke. It was not so subtle proof that this man on the beach was really their beloved master and friend. And it was a reminder that He was God’s own Son, humble in appearance, but powerful beyond expression.

I suppose we always need reminders that God is in control. That He is powerful. I suppose this was another reason why Jesus appeared to these disciples on the beach of Tiberias.

But there was another motivation here. Another reason why Jesus came to the disciples in this way.
If you re-read this account looking for acts of kindness, you find them everywhere. Jesus didn’t just appear to teach the disciples a lesson. Jesus came because He loved these fishermen. He didn’t come to teach them that He loved them. He came because He loved them.

Of course you could say that they already knew this. Just like they knew He had risen, and was powerful, they also knew He loved them. They had been His closest friends. But these men, who had deserted him in the garden of Gethsemane, needed a reminder of how deep His love really is. Peter, who had denied even knowing Jesus, needed a reminder that His cross cancels even the darkest of our sins. And so Jesus came to them this third time.

When we read about Jesus’ path to the cross, He shows us the terrible things that He was willing to suffer because of His love for us. He shows us what our own sins had earned, and then He takes that sentence as His own, erasing our punishment forever. On the cross Jesus shows us the greatest thing that His love moved Him to do.

Here on shores of the Sea of Tiberias Jesus shows us the little things that His love moves Him to do.
Imagine Jesus watching His disciples from shore. He knows how they’ve spent the whole night: Casting the nets. Dragging them back in. Moving the boat. Casting the nets. Dragging them back in. Moving the boat. And with nothing to show for it. They hadn’t caught a single fish. They were tired and frustrated.

And it is at this point Jesus chooses to reveal Himself to them again. As the sun breaks on the land Jesus comes into view. And His words to them are kind, almost playful.

He calls them “Children”. Like fathers do when they call their fully grown sons, “Boys”. And He says to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”

They wished they had fish. They must have been hungry. They had worked all night, but had caught nothing to eat. Their simple answer was, “No.”

And then that mysterious figure on the shore spoke up again. But He didn’t say, “Better luck next time.” Or, “Well, can’t win ‘em all!”

No, the stranger on the shore said, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.”

Jesus knew that no fisherman likes to get skunked. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the scenery is. No fisherman likes to return home without having seen a single fish. And so Jesus’ first little gift of love on this morning is a big catch of fish.

And then they began to realize  this was no stranger at all. And this was Jesus’ second little gift of love. They were frustrated and tired, but now, everything is all right because the Master is Here. He who was dead. Here He is again.

Peter jumped ship to reach Jesus quicker while the others pulled the full net to shore.

Then Jesus gave them another little gift of love. With that many large fish that net should have broken. It should have at least tore a couple holes and lost a few fish, but it didn’t. It held as they drug it in to shore.

And there on the beach was another gift of love waiting for them. A fire of coals. Fish. Bread. Breakfast was waiting for them.
And the little kindnesses don’t stop here either. Jesus doesn’t say, “Dig in boys”. Instead He serves them. With a snap of His finger He could crush whole solar systems or extinguish the sun, and yet He served fish and toast to these sinful Galilean fishermen.
And when breakfast was finished there were still fish to be gathered and taken home. Parting gifts you could say. One more token of Jesus’ love.
These things were not things Jesus needed to do. He didn’t need to make them breakfast to show that He had risen from the dead. He didn’t need to give them a large catch of fish to reveal His power.

Perhaps that’s what Jesus wants us to see in this account. Yes, He is alive. Yes, He is powerful. Yes, He is God. Yes, He loved you enough to suffer and die to forgive you all your sins. And He also loves you enough to make you breakfast. He loves you enough to wait on you, giving you even the simplest of gifts from the goodness of His heart.
There is a child’s table prayer that says,

“Thank you Jesus for this food, and our friends and our family.”

It’s a simple prayer, but one that reminds us where our blessings come from. Yes, even the little ones come to us through Jesus. And when we forget to thank Him, these blessings still keep coming. More evidence of Christ’s love.
There’s a place in Ephesians 3 where the Apostle Paul says that He wants his fellow Christians to be able to grasp how much love Christ has for them. He says,

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)

 Paul wanted Christians to really understand “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” In the account of Jesus on the beach of Tiberias, Jesus shows us the volume of His love.

We know how high His love reached. All the way up to the cross where He died in our place. And we know how deep His love took Him. Below the guilt of all our sins. Deeper than the punishment that we deserved from God. Nothing was beyond Jesus’ love for us. He would pay any price to make us His own. And He did.

Nothing is unimportant to the Savior when it comes to serving those He loves. At the Last Supper, Jesus hadn’t been to proud to wash His disciples feet. And here on the beach of Tiberias Jesus showed them that He wasn’t to proud serve them breakfast.

No task is to great for Jesus to do. And nothing to small that He would refuse. He’s there when you’re tired and frustrated. Listen for His voice. Do what He says. Don’t cast the net on the right side of the boat,

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Don’t depend on yourself.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
          And lean not on your own understanding;
6         In all your ways acknowledge Him,
          And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV)

Jesus has already done the hard work. The work you couldn’t do. He has taken your sins away. So now listen to His voice. Dear children, do what He says. And reap the blessings that come from His directing your paths.
I encourage you Christians, cast your minds into the sea of God’s Word all week long. For when you do, your will be blessed with much. There you will find rest. Peace. Wisdom. Direction. And among these gifts of love you will also be continually reminded of the forgiveness that has been given to you through God’s Son.

God’s Son who is alive, powerful, and most importantly, who loves you.


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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