The life and ministry of Peter. (John 21:15-24)
Peter was heartbroken when he realised he had denied his Lord, and went back to fishing. Following one unsuccessful night a miracle happened when Jesus appeared and gave them the catch of the year. Then, as Peter was humbled before Jesus, the Lord helped him to his life’s purpose. We will see four stages Peter went through on the road to restoration.
Peter was humbled in the presence of Jesus
Jesus’ questions took Peter back to that night on the Mount of Olives when he had boasted, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’
Jesus was probing Peter. ‘Can I really trust you?’ ‘Do you mean what you
say?’ ‘Is your opinion of your own abilities really right?’ Peter was
reminded and he was rebuked. It was painful but it was also necessary.
There was a lesson that needed to be learned. Jesus knew Peter better
than Peter knew himself. His failure led to forgiveness. If Peter had
never admitted his mistake he would not have been there on the day of
Pentecost. His pride was dealt with as a preparation for his future.
Peter was led to write about pride later on: ‘God opposes the proud but
gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s
mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time’ (1 Peter 5:5-6). In his
letter he goes on to talk about resisting the devil, because he knew this
had led to his own downfall earlier. There are occasions when we need to
spend time alone with God and let Him bring us to tears.
Peter was hurt by Jesus’ word (v.17)
Jesus not only put His finger on the moment of embarrassment in Peter’s
life, He kept His finger there wriggling it around! He wanted to make
Peter so sensitive in this area that he would never easily go the same way
again. Politely, and yet persistently, He kept bringing Peter back to it.
Jesus was bringing Peter into a deeper love relationship with Himself. His
third question asks for the love that cherishes Him above all else and
shows itself in a consistent walk with the Master.
So many serve God with a rush of blood to the head rather than a
reasonable balance in their hearts. They serve when they feel like it
rather than when faith demands it. You may be hurt if I said to you,
‘Listen, Christian, you’ve got it wrong. You are drifting from God. You are
ineffective for God. You are not walking with God.’ You may be hurt, but
it may be necessary in order to make you more sensitive to God on these
It hurts to dig out even a small splinter from your finger, but God wants
to dig the sins from your life to make you useful in His service. The way
to be broken in God’s presence is to: admit your need to him, break your
heart over it, cleanse your life in Jesus’ blood, deepen your walk with
Jesus, enjoy learning to live His way and then follow wherever He leads.
Some of the most beautiful views on the coastal path of Cornwall – near
where I live - are seen by very few people because they can only be
reached by steep climbs along narrow tracks by the cliff edge. How is
your view of God?
Peter was healed by Jesus’ words (vv.15-17)
Following the painful reminder was the promise of restoration. The vision
of his own uselessness was the gateway to his usefulness in the Master’s
work. The lost sheep was commissioned to become the leading shepherd.
The wayward disciple was transformed into the winning disciple. The
failure was changed into the faithful.
First Peter 5:2-4 shows how much Peter appreciated these words from
the Lord Jesus. ‘As a fellow elder … be shepherds of God’s flock that is
under your care … not because you must, but because you are willing …
being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you
will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.’
You can be helped by Jesus’ words, but you must first be humbled, even
hurt, in his presence. Are you willing for that to happen?
Discussion guide for ‘Sorry, then sent by Jesus’
Bible reading John 21:15-24
1. After Peter had denied the Lord Jesus, who “arranged” that they
should meet again, after Jesus’ resurrection, John 21:4-7? Does
this give you any comfort when you fail to follow Jesus properly?
2. Explain how you think Peter learned the truth about his pride.
Refer to Matthew 26:33; John 21:15-19; 1 Peter 5:5-6.
3. Why did Jesus “hurt” Peter by what He said to him, John 21:17?
4. What is God gently pointing out in your own life, that stops you
being a really useful servant to Him? Are you prepared to pay the
cost of following Jesus?
5. Make some time to listen to God by yourself. What do you believe
God is calling you to be and to do?