Monday, June 17, 2024

Jesus Asks: Do you Love Me?

On February 8th of 2023 a revival broke out at Asbury University and lasted for 144 hours. It started with a simple chapel service where a message was given that led students to seek God. This revival led to thousands and thousands of people descending on the small town to experience the revival. The news of it spread across the globe. Evangelical leaders attempted to come and take the stage, but the students refused, they didn’t want any figure head or big name leader, just the Holy Spirit in control.

You might wonder, what brought about this revival? Was it a great sermon? Nope. Was it amazing worship music? No. Was it a call to evangelism? No. Was it filled with great apologetics? No. Was it social justice? No. Was it a hellfire sermon? No. Was it an encouraging prosperity message? No.

One simple fact made it so very powerful: The Holy Spirit brought repentance. People honestly confessed their failures, people honestly confessed that they had not kept Jesus first. The love of God changed their hearts through this honest submission.

We saw how Jesus prayed for his disciples and then they left for the garden of gethsemane. There Jesus knew he would be arrested by the authorities.

Just as Jesus had predicted, he was arrested, betrayed by Judas Iscariot, and he was taken into custody.

I imagine it was a dark, dark night. I imagine the sorrow and fear among the disciples was strong.

The Roman soldiers and temple guards came to Jesus and his disciples and said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus replied, “I am he.”

Judas gave a signal to the guards to let them know which of the disciples was Jesus, so he came and kissed Jesus on the cheek, to indicate, this is the correct one to arrest.

Peter in a fit of anger and fear struck out with his sword. But Jesus commanded him to put his sword away.

Nine of the disciples fled at that moment. But Peter and John followed the group of soldiers as they led Jesus away.

Then it says, in John 18:15-17, “Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was well known to the High Priest, so he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the High Priest's house, 16 while Peter stayed outside by the gate. Then the other disciple went back out, spoke to the girl at the gate, and brought Peter inside. 17 The girl at the gate said to Peter, “Aren't you also one of the disciples of that man?”

“No, I am not,” answered Peter.”

Peter once said to Jesus, even if everyone else denies you, I will never deny you (Matthew 26:33).

To that Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (Matthew 26:34).

Let’s examine ourselves. How was our conduct over the last few years? Did we keep Jesus first in everything?

Or have we been living double lives?

Did we attend church faithfully? Or did we show up rarely?

Did we tithe and give offers? Or were we selfish with our money?

When's the last time you shared your faith with… anyone?

When’s the last time you brought someone new to church with you?

Have you prayed day and night for the people in this community and in this church?

Or have you been lazy and self-focused?

Have you seen victories over sin in your life, or are you living in secret sin?

Sometimes, when we see failure, we have to look in the mirror. Like Simon Peter, he failed Jesus. He denied he even knew him.

The rock had become as shaky as a reed in the wind.

Next, in verses 18-25, “It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.” -John 18:18-25

Aren’t you a disciple of Jesus? Peter said, I’m not. What about you? What happens when everything falls apart? What happens when the rest of the followers scatter into the wilderness? What will you do?

Would you die for Jesus Christ? If the American authorities came to your door and threatened to arrest you and have you executed for your faith in Jesus, what would you do?

I hope and pray I would say, Jesus is my savior no matter what! They might say, well, if you deny Jesus, we’ll give you money, we’ll make you famous, you’ll be well taken care of, you’ll never have a problem again, just deny your savior.

I hope I would reply, “Never.”

But my own behavior is a sign. I say I would never deny Jesus. But how often is it that I can’t be bothered to even show up to church on Sunday? I can’t be bothered to visit someone struggling. I can’t be bothered to whisper a prayer. I can’t be bothered to help out, or tithe, or carry a few boxes into the corps, I can’t be bothered. Then why in the world should I believe that I would not deny Jesus?

Communities in the west are becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. You can’t imagine what I’ve seen friends over the last five years. I’ve seen so many people abandon this church. I’ve seen our name salted in this community. I’ve seen other charities in the area stab us in the back. I’ve seen people spread rumors. I’ve seen people steal from us. I’ve seen people trash us on social media. My car was keyed by disgruntled clients. I was physically attacked. Theres never enough funding.

So considering all that, it’s just not a given that we’d all die for Jesus, can we really assume that? The community is growing increasingly hostile to Christianity. So we must examine ourselves, as America turns against God, would I be willing to die for my savior? If I say yes, then my action should match, I should be utterly devoted to Jesus, utterly focused on my church activity, utterly heart-burdened for those who don’t know Him out there.

Next, it says, “One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?”

Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.”
–John 18:26-27

We’ve talked about your part in all this, the part of the community, but what about me?

I’ve failed and fallen short in so many ways over the last five years. I can tell you that much. I can relate to Peter, just as all of us can.

Let me tell you about my failures. I’ve allowed fear to control and hinder my leadership. I’ve allowed pride to disrupt and influence the way I teach and preach. I’ve allowed lust to take hold in my life, in the past. I’ve not been bold enough in my leadership, I’ve been fearful to confront and rebuke people who were out of control. I didn’t reach out enough, spend enough time in your homes.

But for years I was doubleminded, and played a double-life. Thank the Lord he has purified that out of me through suffering and much sorrow. And that sorrow, sickness, pain and frustration led to repentance. I was humbled by the Lord, delivered from pride, and lust and fears, and that was a gift from the Lord.

Many of you noticed how sick I was for really the last two and a half years. And that was God’s gift to humble me and deliver me from pride, and doublemindedness, and make me whole before Him.

If you are in a dark season, pray and ask God if it’s for the purpose of repentance. Maybe God is bringing you through sorrows so you will confess your sin before him and repent. Not every sorrow season is like that, but if it is that, don’t miss this golden opportunity, it is a gift from God. Use the sorrow to draw you toward repentance.

Peter has denied Jesus three times. One might think, the story is over. But it is not over.

Similarly, with each of you, with this community, and with me, the story is not over.

Jesus is taken before the authorities. Jesus goes through his all night ordeal before the high priest and before the romans. Jesus is mocked and beaten. Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha. Jesus is nailed to the cross. Jesus is lifted up upon the cross. And Jesus dies for our sins upon that cross.

Jesus is the only one who can do it. Each of us, the disciples, even Peter, we fall short. We mess it up. We miss the mark. But Jesus doesn’t. Jesus gains total victory. Jesus wins the day. Jesus completes His mission.

Meanwhile the disciples are in hiding, behind locked doors, in fear of the roman authorities and the Jewish leaders. Three days go by, of I’m sure, much mourning, and sorrow and weeping.

The disciples hear then, of strange rumors of Jesus being alive again, but no one is sure what to believe.

One day Peter and the disciples go fishing. 

“Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” –John 21:2-3

Peter seems to be going back to his old life, he used to be a fishermen, Jesus had called him to fish for people, but now Peter returns to his old ways.

Our own shortcomings may make us want to run to our old lives.

I wonder how many of you here, after the morning services are discontinued, after myself and Chelsey have departed will go back to your old lives? Forget everything that happened over the last five years…?

Then I wonder how many of you will hear the voice of Jesus calling to you from the shore.

The disciples heard a voice call to them: 
"He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” -John 21:5-6

When we’ve failed Jesus, Jesus comes to us and ministers to us. Jesus reminds us who we really are, and Jesus invites us to make a change.

The disciples go back to their old life, and Jesus meets them where they are, and calls them back home to Himself.

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.” – John 21:7-9

When we hear the voice of the master in our bitterness and regret and confusion and in our running away, we should be like Simon Peter and jump into the water and swim toward Jesus as fast as we can.

When we’ve failed we feel like it’s all over, we’re done, we’ve lost. But when we see Jesus show up, we jump for joy, because His love moves us so completely.

You mean he still loves me, even when I fail or make a mistake? Yes.

So many times you guys I’ve felt so sinful, after I sinned, I know I did something so bad, so nasty, and I come with a contrite heart to Jesus, and I ask His forgiveness and I feel then very quickly that he has forgiven me, and I lose it, I just want to cry with joy at his mercy, humility and compassion for me.

Next Jesus sits down with Peter, and he asks Peter a very important question. It says:

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.”

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.”

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.” -John 21:15-17

Peter had denied Jesus three times. And Jesus invites Peter here to repent of his denial.

Peter had said he loved Jesus, but by his actions he had denied Him. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Jesus comes to Peter and asks him the same question three times, “Do you love me?”

And Peter is restored, as he declares from the heart, “ I love you Lord.”

Peter used his mouth to declare he did not know Jesus, now he declares with his mouth, I do know Jesus.

And Peter from this moment forward would proclaim Jesus to all, never denying His master again. Peter would one day even give His life for Jesus.

Jesus invites us to repent, and restores us completely as we turn back to Him.

What about you? Peter’s sorrow led to repentance. Examine your own heart today. Do you really love Jesus with all your heart? If you do, do your actions match up with what you’re saying?

Allow the Lord to bring sorrow if repentance is needed. Allow the Lord to prick your heart. Allow the Lord to speak into your life some hard truth today.

Over the last few years, what have been your triumphs? What about your mistakes and failures?

Are you caught in a secret sin? He can set you free.

Are you struggling with depression? He can lift you up.

Do you feel like you didn’t go all in for Jesus the last few years? Recommit your heart to Him.

Do you feel like you’ve not served your fellow Christians faithfully? Ask God to help you practice your faith more actively.

Seek the Lord right now. Ask God for forgiveness. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to transform you. God wants to move in your heart. And true repentance brings revival. Maybe today is the first day of a personal revival in your life. Be like Peter. Jesus came to him and asked him, do you love me?

Do you hear the voice of the Master Jesus saying it to you, “Do you love me?” Repent right now of any sins in your life. Or maybe you just need to repent of not putting Jesus first in your life? Take some time and pray right now. Jesus will restore you!

Review of Main Points:
  1. Examining Ourselves: Where have we failed Him?
  2. Examining the Community: Would we die for Him?
  3. Examining Leadership: What about church leaders?
  4. Where we fail Jesus succeeds
  5. Our own shortcomings may make us want to run to our old lives
  6. When we’ve failed Jesus, Jesus comes to us and ministers to us (and we run toward Him) 
  7. Jesus invites us to Repent, and restores us completely as we turn back to Him