May 25, 2014

Children of Divine Privilege - May 25, 2014

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By definition, privilege is possessing what many others do not. Or, having things that are not our right to have, but are our blessings all the same.

As citizens of the United States, we live in a land of privilege. When we’re thirsty we can just turn on the tap and pour a cool glass of water. We don’t have to wonder if the water will make us sick. We don’t have to walk miles to get it.

If we find ourselves in need of medical care, there is usually a technologically advanced emergency room nearby. And if we call 911, they’ll even come and pick us up.

Because privileges like these are so commonplace in America, we take them for granted. But every once in a while we get a glimpse of the less fortunate on the news, and that helps us remember how privileged we really are.

Maybe you saw the story too. This week a small group of Iranian citizens made a fan video where they sang the song “Happy” and danced around. Within six hours of posting that video the group had been detained by the local authorities.

You see, Iran is a Muslim state, and some of women in the video were not covering their heads with the required “hijab.” They were also dancing with men, which is forbidden. The result was arrest.

How easy it is to forget that the rest of the world is not so privileged as we are.
As followers of Christ, we Christians are even more privileged. We have fellowship with the triune God. And while the blessings of being an American citizen could vanish at any moment, the blessings of faith are not so easily taken away.

In our Scripture reading for today, Jesus describes some of the privileges that come to those connected to the true God. He reminds us that through faith in him we have become “Children of Divine Privilege.”

On the night before he was crucified, Jesus addressed his chosen apostles. He told them…

John 14:15-21 (NASB)

  15   “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  16   “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
  17   that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
  18   “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
  19   “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
  20   “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
  21   “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

Jesus did not speak these words to the crowds that trailed after him. He spoke these words to his chosen apostles. The twelve he had selected to proclaim his message of grace and forgiveness to the world. He spoke these words to those who trusted that he was their heaven-sent Savior and King.

The first divine privilege Jesus bestows on the apostles here is the gift of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus would ask the Father in heaven, and the Father would send the Holy Spirit to be a powerful Helper to the apostles.

They would need this Helper. Just a few verses later Jesus says…

“…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV).

The Holy Spirit would enable the apostles to speak Christ’s message with accuracy. Neither adding to his message, nor taking away from it. It was this special gift of the Holy Spirit that would enable men like Matthew and John to write down their accounts of Jesus’ life and work with no mistakes.

It was this special gift of the Holy Spirit that would embolden the sometimes frightful and skittish apostles to proclaim God’s message of sin and forgiveness to the world.

Jesus did not just give his apostles the truth, he also secured for them the Spirit of truth. A Tutor above all tutors, who would guide their lives and ministries for the glory of God, and the saving of many, many sinners.

Jesus taught them to appreciate the gift of the Spirit when he told them that the world cannot receive the Spirit, or know him. But the apostles would have him at their side, and in their hearts.

It is one thing to say the Holy Spirit is present everywhere. It is another thing altogether to say he dwells with you and in you. Not all can say this.
Dear Christians, you and I have been given the Holy Spirit as well. Not in the same way that the apostles received him. We do not write under the inspiration of God. We are not all sent to travel the world, preaching the Gospel. We do not miraculously speak in languages we have not studied like the Pentecost apostles. But we have been given the same Spirit. He is the one who enables us to believe we really have been forgiven through the cross of Christ. He is the one who continually speaks the truth to us through his Holy Word.

Let this truth sink in. The same Holy Spirit who Jesus gave to the apostles, the same Holy Spirit who brooded over the waters in the beginning—lives in you today, dear Christians.
The second divine privilege that Jesus bestows on the apostles here is the gift of fellowship with Himself. Jesus says,

18   “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
  19   “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
  20   “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20 NASB).

Here Jesus speaks of his crucifixion and resurrection. He would indeed be leaving them soon. He would be arrested, condemned, crucified, and laid dead in a tomb. But that would not be the last the apostles would see of Jesus. His story would not end on a cold slab of limestone in a borrowed tomb. He would rise again on the third day, as was foretold. And by his resurrection, he would proclaim to the world that the sacrifice for our sins has been made. And the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is there for all to receive, through faith in him.

The apostles would certainly feel like orphans in the coming days. They would feel abandoned. But Jesus would appear to them again. They would see him with their own eyes, and touch those wounds that meant so much. And Jesus promises them, “because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19 NASB).

These are the blessings of fellowship with the Son of God: never would they be abandoned, theirs would be an eternally living Savior. A guardian who would never stop watching over their souls. And because he would live, they would live.  

Dear Christians, Scripture tells us that this same Jesus is guarding over our souls as well. When Jesus ascended back into heaven, he told his followers,

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV).

The apostles John told his fellow Christians…

“…My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2 ESV).

And just two verse after our sermon text, Jesus himself says…

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23 ESV).

Do you love Jesus? Me too. He lives in us by faith. We are his home.

This is so different than the manmade religions of the world. Manmade religions often advise people to earn their way to God. Other times they tell people that God accepts everyone just the way they are, regardless of what we do. God’s okay with whatever you’re okay with.

But the message of Jesus is much different than this. Jesus says, “Your sins are going to land you in hell. But I have come to be your Savior. You don’t earn your way to God, God comes to you. I have come to save you.”

Dear Christians, Jesus will return visibly to us also. Not in a locked room in Jerusalem. But in glory on the Last Day. He will come with rank upon rank of heaven’s angels. He will come in glory stepping down through the sky. And he will draw us to himself. We shall meet him in the air. This is the promise of God’s Word. We shall have eternal fellowship with the Son of God, who gave himself to redeem our souls.

Let this truth sink in. You will meet this same Jesus, the one raised to life on the first Easter Sunday. You will meet him in person on the Last Day. But even today, now, by faith he lives within you.
The third divine privilege that Jesus bestows on the apostles here is the gift of fellowship with God the Father. Jesus says,

  21   “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:20-21 NASB).

Jesus tells his apostles that they who love Him, are love by His Father. God the Father. No longer would their sin separate them from God. By Christ’s cross the sins of the apostles would be removed. And the full light of the Father’s love would be focused on them.

And we are promised this same blessing through faith in Christ.

Do you love Jesus? Me too. And we are assured by Jesus that all who love him, are loved by the Father. Our sins were paid for on that cross too. Not just the sins of the apostles. The Father who promised Adam and Eve that a Savior would come has provided that Savior, and opened the door to knowing the living God through the cross of Christ.

In John 17, it says…

“…this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV).

This is the privilege that we have as followers of Christ. Knowing God, and getting to know him better. This is what this day of worship is for! And this privilege comes from the Father. In Colossians 1, it says,

“the Father … has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14 ESV).
These privileges are available to everyone, but they are obtained only through faith in Christ. Only the Christ follower has the Holy Spirit as his tutor. Only the Christ follower has Jesus as his eternal guardian. Only the Christ follower feels the love of the Father that will extend into eternity.

And Jesus gives us a description of the Christ follower in verse 15. Jesus says,

“If you love Me [that is, if you are a Christian], you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NASB).

This is what Christians do. We keep Christ’s commandments. Of course, we don’t keep them perfectly. We’re sinners. And we will remain sinful until the final resurrection when God takes our sinful nature out of us, and purifies us for an eternity of living with him.

But, as followers of Christ, we try to live our lives like he directs us to. We honor God by the things we say. We respect our parents. We care for our neighbors. We love our families. We love our enemies. We speak the truth instead of lies. We put others needs before our own. We serve one another joyfully.

And when we fail. When we stumble in sin, we don’t continue in sin. We turn away from it, and seek God’s forgiveness. We return to the Gospel of Christ’s cross, and remember that He paid our debt completely. We return to that empty tomb, and remember that his sacrifice was accepted. We find peace, knowing that in Christ we stand forgiven forever. And we dedicate ourselves to avoiding sin in the future.

To love Christ is not merely to accept his commands about proper living. To love Christ is also to hold tightly to his promise of forgiveness. Loving Christ means living a life of repentance. A life of renouncing our sins and coming to him for cleansing.

This is what it means to be a Christian. And what an amazing privilege it is. Much greater than the privilege of being an American citizen.

Like I said earlier, our privileges as American citizens could be taken away at any moment. Our country can, and will change. New legislation will be written. New laws will be passed. And in the blink of an eye, the privileges we have in America may vanish.
But the privileges of being a Child of God through faith in Christ, those privileges cannot be taken from us by the powers-that-be. Just ask the countless Christians down through the ages who lost their lives because of their faith in Christ. Just ask the apostle Paul, who was imprisoned for his faith in Christ. Ask John, who was exiled to a small island for his faith in Christ. Ask them. Ask them,

“How has your imprisonment, exile, or death changed your relationship to God?”

They’d laugh if you could asked them this question. Change my relationship to God? Haven’t you read…

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 ESV).

Dear Christians, ours is a divine connection. Unbreakable so long as we do not throw it away through impenitence and unbelief. In Christ we have been made God’s children. Children of Divine Privilege. It has been granted. But do not take it for granted. Cherish this connection. Use it. Live in it. There is no more precious or powerful advantage in this world—or the next.


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

May 18, 2014

The Making of a Shepherd - May 18, 2014

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In one of my favorite books, there is a story about a chipmunk who survives the great flood aboard Noah’s ark. The story is called, “How the Chipmunk Got His Stripes”, and it’s told from the perspective of one Jacob Chipmunk. Now, of course, Jacob’s story isn’t found in the Biblical account of the flood, but you’ll understand why I’m telling you about this little story in just a second.

In the story, the ark finally runs aground on Mt. Ararat. And Jacob Chipmunk finds that through his nervous chewing he has bored a hole clear through the ship to the outside world. And so, before the doors are opened, and the animals set loose, one lone chipmunk scampers down onto the soggy ground.

Jacob Chipmunk is, of course, ecstatic  to be on land again. But he notices that there’s still a big huge ocean of water surrounding the ark. And he realizes that this little bit of beach property won’t be big enough for all the animals.

So, the hyperactive chipmunk devises a plan to dry up the world. He runs to the water’s edge, soaks his tail full of water, and then runs back up the beach to wring it out. He figures that with enough trips, he can drain the sea away.

Back and forth the little chipmunk races, until all of the sudden a huge hand reaches down and scoops him up into the bright blue sky. It is, of course, the hand of God. And in the story, God goes on to explain how silly it is that Jacob chipmunk should try to dry up the whole world with his little chipmunk tail. This was God’s job, and God would do it. And so with a deep and fathomless breath, God breathes out over the waters and does in an instant, what Jacob couldn’t have done in a million years.

Now, here’s the part I wanted to share with you. As God sets the little chipmunk down on the newly dried land, the author writes…

“Just before the hand was withdrawn, however, the tips of the fingers brushed once, lightly, along Jacob’s head and back, leaving a most profound and mysterious impression upon the little Chipmunk. For somehow it seemed, this mystic stroke, to be a combination of two things, two things impossibly different: In one way , it was like the long-ago memory of his own mother’s tongue, licking him; but also it was like the claws of a great bird of prey raking through his flesh.

The pain, however, was only for a moment, while the delicious sensation of the tenderest of caresses remained forever. And along with it came four beautiful white stripes, embedded in the Chipmunk’s fur, running the length of his body and set like a crown on the top of his head: the sign of being stroked by the Almighty’s love” (How the Chipmunk God His Stripes, by Mike Mason).

The tale of how the chipmunk got his stripes is fiction of course. But that description of the Lord’s touch is sometimes quite truth. Sometimes God deals with us in this way. Sometimes his touch is both sharp and painful, and yet at the same time full of compassion and tenderness.

With his Law God rakes through our conscience laying bare the reality of our sin and guilt. He says, “Love me above all. Honor my Name. Take time for me. Honor your parents. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t covet what isn’t yours to have.” And with his Law, God cuts deep down to our true motives, to our secrets sins. He reveals that in our arrogance and selfishness we have failed to live up to his standards time and time again.

And yet at the same time, through the message of Christ’s gift of forgiveness, God tenderly soothes and heals our deepest hurts. He restores our souls and cleanses our conscience through the fact that His Son suffered and died in our place, and now lives as our great Savior and King.

Yes, sometimes the touch of God is both painful, and utterly soothing.
In our Scripture reading for today, Jesus applies both Law and Gospel to the apostle Peter. And Peter feels both the deep cut of the Lord’s rebuke, and the tender healing of his forgiveness.

John 21:15-17 (NASB)

  15   So 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, “Tend My lambs.”
  16   He said to him again 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, “Shepherd 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 all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

This conversation between Peter and his Lord took place on a beach, on the Sea of Galilee. It took place after the crucifixion and after the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. John tells us this was the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples as a group. But our Lord’s words here, were directed not to the group, but to Simon Peter alone.

Jesus calls Peter by his given name, Simon. And he adds, “son of John”. I was curious about this. Why does Jesus adds this “last name” of sorts. So, I searched and found that Jesus only callsPeter the “son of John” on three occasions—all important ones. He called him “Simon, son of John” when they met for the first time, after Peter had confessed him as the Son of God, and on this occasion. It’s as if Jesus is adding weight to their interaction by calling Peter “Simon, son of John”. Kinda like when your mom or dad use your middle name.

I don’t know about you, but my mom would call me “Caleb John!” at two times. When I had done something particularly bad, or when she wished to express love. Perhaps Jesus was doing both when he called Peter, “Simon, son of John”.
Peter had indeed done something particularly bad. We remember. When pressed into a tight corner, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus—three separate times. He even called down curses on himself to prove that he didn’t know Jesus.

And Peter had done this just hours after swearing to Jesus that even if all the other disciples abandoned Jesus, Peter would remain true. Peter would die before denying Jesus. Or so he had claimed. Sadly, the reality played out much differently.

And so, Jesus begins this conversation by asking, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15 NASB). That is to say, do you still claim your love for me is so much stronger than the love of these others?

Peter is humbled by the directness of Jesus. In his reply, Peter doesn’t even use the same word for love that Jesus does. Instead, he affirms his love for Christ with different word for love. Peter is through comparing himself with others. Peter is done claiming great powers of love for himself.

And with the first stroke of rebuke delivered, Jesus follows that blow with tenderness. He says to Peter, “Tend by lambs” (John 21:15 NASB). He means, of course, be a keeper of my people. An overseer of those who trust in me. And in this gracious assignment, Jesus expresses both his love and his forgiveness. For Jesus only calls those who have tasted his forgiveness to be purveyors of it.

Peter’s days of self-centered boasting were at an end. His life would now be one of serving his Savior, and serving his Savior’s people.
But the rebuke was not at an end. And the deepest cut was yet to come.

Like the right hook that follows the left jab, Jesus’ next question hits Peter squarely in his pride. Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16 NASB). This time Jesus doesn’t ask if Peter love him MORE than the others do. This time Jesus asks Peter if he loves him at all.

It is all that Peter can do to reply. And he again uses a lesser word for love than Jesus does. Peter repeats his claim with the same simple words that he used the first time, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” (John 21:16 NASB).

And with the second stroke of rebuke delivered, Jesus follows his blow with more tenderness. He says to Peter, “Shepherd My Sheep” (John 21:16 NASB). Note those words well. These are JESUS’ sheep that Peter is to shepherd. It is not PETER’s flock. He’s not the boss. He is but the under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd. And again, by repeating this gracious assignment, Jesus is expressing his forgiveness to Peter. For as odd as it may sound, in the Savior’s flock, all the under-shepherds are themselves sheep. They are stumbling, bumbling sheep, whom the Good Shepherd has claimed for eternity by his precious blood shed on the cross.
This remarkable assignment from the Lord could have rekindled Peter’s pride. Think about it like this, if the resurrected Jesus appeared to YOU and said, “I want YOU to be a shepherd of My sheep” wouldn’t a tiny bit of you think, “Me? Well I guess I do have some suitable qualities. I mean, you thought of me for the job, right?” Pride dies hard, doesn’t it?

The reality is that none of us have anything to offer God that has not already been given to us by his hand. We cannot claim even a scrap of goodness apart from the Lord’s working in us through his Word.

As the Bible says,

“…no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3 NASB).


“…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 NKJV).
And so Jesus asks Peter a third, and final question. One final cut, and the deepest of all. One final blow to knock Peter’s sinful pride to the ground. Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” (John 21:17 NASB). But this time Jesus exchanges his word of high love, for Peter’s lower word for love. In essence, Jesus says, “Peter, do you really love me, like you keep saying you do?”

And all that Peter can do is cling to the truth. He does love Jesus. And he knows that Jesus must know that, for Jesus knows all things. He is the divine Son of God, who after suffering and dying on the cross for the sins of all people, took up the full use of his divine powers once again. And so Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17 NASB).

And one more time, Jesus follows the blow of rebuke, with the tender embrace of forgiveness. He repeats the task he has given to Peter, his redeemed servant. He says, “Tend My Sheep” (John 21:17 NASB).

Three denials from Peter. Three questions from the Lord. Three blows of rebuke, which cut deep. And three assurances that Peter was truly, and completely forgiven. That is what we find here in this little exchange on the shores of Galilee’s lake.
It’s easy to put ourselves in Peter’s shoes, isn’t it? Through arrogance and selfishness we too have failed to love God by the things we say and do.

And if we actually pick up the Bible to see what God has to say about it, we find that God has some rather serious words to say about our behavior. The Bible says…

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 NIV).

“…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23 NKJV).

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;” (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV).

But you know how those passages end, don’t you?

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 NIV).

“…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NKJV).

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NKJV).

The raking claws of God’s Law are followed by the tender caress of his undeserved love and forgiveness. And on the heels of this complete forgiveness comes an assignment.
No, we are not all called to be apostles like Peter. No, we are not all called to teach Bible Class on Sunday or proclaim the Gospel from a pulpit in church. But we are all called to shepherd God’s flock. For the shepherds are the sheep. The forgiven are the called.

And the calls is simple. Our Savior died for all. They need to know it. And the sheep that are in the fold already, they need to stay safely in the fold. And we need to tend them. You and me.

We need to keep each other from danger. Diligently watching each other with love. Being present in the lives of our fellow Christians. Praying for one another. Applying the rebuke of the Law when needed, and the tender embrace of the Gospel.

We need to keep each other well pastured and watered. Continually speaking the Word of the Almighty God to one another. With an email. With a post. With a phone call. With a text. And yes, even IN PERSON.

We need to bind up the wounds of our fellow sheep and nurse them to health with the powerful Word of God. Patiently bearing each other’s burdens. Exercising the compassion and wisdom that our divine Savior teaches.
When God asked Cain where his brother was, the world’s first murderer replied, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9 NKJV).

Help us Holy Spirit, that this would NEVER be our response to the grace and mercy we have received in Christ. Let our response instead be, “I AM my brother’s keeper. I will go and find him. I will call him with your Word. Your power will do the work, but I will be your humble instrument. I will tend your sheep.”

Through God’s Law and Gospel, Peter was made a redeemed sinner, and a shepherd of his fellow sheep. God’s cutting Law, and healing Gospel has done the same for us. We are redeemed. Let us now be about the business of tending the Good Shepherd’s flock, together.


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

May 11, 2014

Sheep, Not Shepherds - May 11, 2014

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This Sunday’s Sermon was written by Pastor Mike Roehl and provided through “Ministry by Mail”. To read it online go to “Ministry by Mail” by clicking here

May 4, 2014

The Friend We Have In Jesus - May 4, 2014

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Oprah Winfrey once said,

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

She was talking, of course, about friendship.

A true friend is more than someone who shares your same interests, or helps you out, or makes you laugh. A true friend is someone who loves YOU more than being loved BY you.

In our sermon reading for today, the apostle John shows us just what kind of friend we have in Jesus.

John 21:1-14 (NASB)

    1   After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
    2   Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
    3   Simon 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.
    4   But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
    5   So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”
    6   And 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.
    7   Therefore 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.
    8   But 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.
    9   So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.
  10   Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”
  11   Simon 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.
  12   Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.
  13   Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.
  14   This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
During his earthly life, Jesus had learned how to be a carpenter, not a fisherman. But he was familiar with what his fisherman friends did for work. He knew they did their work at night, and that it was hard work: Move the boat, cast the net, drag the net back in, repeat until you have all the fish you need.

Jesus also knew that a fisherman’s work didn’t end when the boat hit shore. The fish that had been caught needed to be processed and preserved if they weren’t going to be sold immediately. And the nets would have to be repaired in preparation for the next outing. A little tear in the net would only get bigger, letting fish get away.

But before this shore work, a hungry fishing team would need to get some food in their bellies. A little breakfast would carry them through the remainder of their work.

Jesus was familiar with these things during his earthly life. And after his crucifixion and resurrection he knew them too. And as our risen Savior stood on the shore on that morning so long ago, he turned his thoughts toward his beloved disciples out there on the lake. He thought of them, and planned to give them a string of gifts.

That’s really what this simple story presents isn’t it? Our Savior presenting a parade of gifts to his followers.
The first gift is easy enough to see. They had been toiling all night, and now had nothing to show for it. And so the God-Man flexed his almighty power, just a little, and filled their nets with fish. He gave them the biggest catch he could fit in their nets.

And when they arrived on shore, he gave them his next gift: breakfast. Roasted fish and bread were waiting for this band of hungry fishermen.

And there would be no rock, paper, scissors to see who would have to serve the group. Jesus himself took the bread and the fish and distributed them to each man.

And after their breakfast, these experienced fishermen noted that they didn’t have to mend the nets. For even after such a huge catch, not even a single strand of webbing was broken. They recognized that this was no coincidence. It was another gift from Jesus.

These gifts were fine enough, but we dare not forget the simplest gift that Jesus gave them here. For his simplest gift was the most important one. Jesus gave them his presence.

This was the third time that the risen Christ had appeared to his disciples. And the main reason Jesus came here wasn’t to help them with their fishing. The main reason Jesus came here was to show them once more that he was alive. That their Master and Savior was truly risen from the dead. And therefore, everything he had taught them about himself was true. He had suffered and died for their sins. They were now forgiven sinners, restored to God, and destined for eternal glory in heaven.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was not like a Bigfoot sighting. The people who knew Jesus, and had followed him, didn’t just glimpse him from a distance. He ate with them. He talked with them. He fed them breakfast. He patiently graced them with his presence over the span of forty days so that they would be certain that it was truly him. The impossible had happened: their sins had been paid for, and the risen Jesus was proof of it.
This is the friend they had in Jesus. And this is the friend we have in Jesus also. Jesus used his ALMIGHTY POWER to provide a catch of fish for those disciples. And he still uses his power to provide for us today.

Jesus was THOUGHTFUL toward those disciples. And he is mindful of us today also. He knows what we need, and he provides it. This it true whether we’re talking about food and drink, house and home, or whether we’re talking about the Gospel of forgiveness, and the spiritual truths he teaches us in the Bible.

Jesus LOVINGLY SERVED those disciples breakfast, like a mother putting a second helping of spaghetti on her children’s plate. And he does the same for us. He sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts through the message of sin and grace. When we come to the Lord’s Supper he feeds us with his own body and blood, banishing all our fears of judgment and replacing them with peace.

When serving those disciples Jesus paid ATTENTION TO THE SMALLEST OF DETAILS, keeping every strand of their nets whole. And with us he maintains that same eye for detail. He answers our prayers, saying “yes” to all that he knows will benefit our souls, and saying “no” to all that will not—according to his perfect knowledge. No prayer of his people is forgotten. No prayer of his people is lost or neglected.

And just as Jesus was PATIENT with those disciples, appearing over and over to them to cement the reality of his resurrection, he is also patient with us. Over and over he whispers the truth of our salvation to us through his Word. Through our Christian friends, through our teachers, through our pastors, through our hymns, through times of meditation on his Word.

When we stray from his will, he patiently calls us back in repentance. When we stray from his Word, he patiently calls us back the source of all things Spiritual and lasting.

This is the friend we have in Jesus.

Jesus is not a high maintenance friend that is always asking for more. He is not a pretend friend that is only there when things are going good. Jesus is the type of friend who gives and gives and gives, because he truly loves us.
Simply put, Jesus took the bus, so we could ride in the limo. It’s kind of a sad analogy, because it falls so short of the reality. The reality is: he took the cross, so we could sit with him on his throne. He suffered the hell, so we could savor the heaven.

This it he friend we have in Jesus.  

Jesus is a friend who came to the shores of Tiberias to remind you and me that he came to GIVE, not to take.
When your life is hard, think of THIS JESUS. The true Jesus. The Biblical Jesus. He came to give you forgiveness, life, and a future.

When your sins weigh heavy on your conscience, think of THIS JESUS. He says your dark past has been erased. All has been forgiven.

This is the friend we have in Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we face disappointment in life, come to us in Word and Sacrament. Remind us of the simple way you loved and served your disciples on the beach of Tiberias. Remind us of the astounding way you loved and served us all on the cross. And give us strength to face anything this life can throw at us. He us to remember that you still stand at our side, the greatest, most powerful, and most loving, of all our friends. Amen.