When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It."

John 21:15-17 

Good Morning to all of God’s People from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team!   It’s such a blessing to be able to worship with you today wherever you are!  I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and to share His message with the world through today’s technology!   

Our Message today is titled “Restored!”  Our scripture comes from the New Testament Book of John, Chapter 21, verses 15 through 17 and you can be turning there in your Bibles. 

Last week, our Message was on this same chapter, verses 1 through 14 when Jesus invited Peter and six other disciples who had been fishing to have breakfast with Him by the Sea of Galilee.  

In today’s scriptures, we’ll read that Jesus is offering a wonderful gift of forgiveness to Peter, who had failed in his commitment to Jesus.  A fear driven denial, not once, not, twice, but three times, had come from Peter’s lips during the night of Jesus’ arrest as He said it would.  Peter wept and probably fled into the night and eventually returned to what he knew best – fishing. 

Peter is now wiser, perhaps less sure of many things than he once was.  But Jesus is not done with Peter; He still has a plan and a purpose for Peter and some unfinished business. 

Now reading in John, Chapter 21, verses 15 through 17 from the New Living Translation. 

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?  “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”  “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”  “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. 

Let’s pray:
Father, Thank You for Your great love and blessing over our lives. Thank You that Your favor has no end, but it lasts for our entire lifetime. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that You are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that You know what concerns us, and You cover us as with a shield. 

We pray that we would walk in Your blessing and goodness today; that Your face would shine on us; that You would open the right doors for our lives and for our loved ones; that You would close the wrong doors and protect us from those we need to walk away from. 

Establish the work of our hands and bring to fulfillment all that You have given us to do in these days. We pray that You would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm out of Your goodness and love. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear Your voice, and make us strong by Your huge favor and grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Sometimes, it seems that we have so many opportunities to mess up in life.  We do things we know we shouldn’t, and we make mistakes. 

Peter is one of my favorite disciples.  He was a guy that made mistakes.  I think just about everyone of us can say “I’ve been there!”  Maybe we can even say “I can relate to how Peter felt.”  We have regrets, we’ve done things we shouldn’t, we’ve pulled away from our relationship with Jesus and maybe even denied Him, whether by our lifestyle, our willful choices or by letting our relationship with Him go cold.  Yet Jesus still loves us. 

Jesus knows we’re going to fail.  But fortunately for us, God is in the restoration business.  He uses our mistakes and failures to bring about His intended results.  It’s through our mistakes that He teaches us and transforms us if we let Him. 

In today’s scriptures, the disciples have now finished eating breakfast and Jesus is having a conversation with Peter.  Although Peter made a commitment and failed, Jesus knows Peter’s heart is right, and He still has work for Peter to do.  Jesus wants Peter to realize that he shouldn’t let failures stop him. 

Peter knows he has miserably failed His Lord and must have wondered if he was even worthy of being considered one of Jesus’ disciples ever again.  In verse 15, Jesus is offering Peter a chance to start over again.  Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”   

Jesus is saying to Peter is, “Do you love me more than these fish or more than fishing?”  But, as usual, Jesus is saying much more than meets the eye. The key to Jesus’ questions is knowing that in the Greek language, there is more than one word for our English word LOVE. 

Here is how it sounds when we take out the English word (love) and replace it with the Greek word originally used. 

In verse 15, Jesus said, AGAPAO thou me more than these? Meaning, “Is your love for me the Godly kind of love that exceeds your love for fishing. 

To this, Peter responded, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I PHILEO thee.” Peter was saying that the kind of love he had for Jesus was not the Godly kind of love of which he had been so boastful, but a PHILEO kind of love, a brother kind of love. 

By his own choice of words, Peter was admitting that nothing he could ever do would ever measure up and produce the results he was looking for.  

To Peter’s responses, Jesus said, “Feed my lambs, and feed my sheep.”  Paraphrasing, Jesus was saying, “Now, I can use you, Peter. Now that you have learned that there is nothing you can do without me, now I can use you.” 

In verse 17, the third and last time that Jesus asked Peter, "Lovest thou me?" Jesus did not ask again, "AGAPEO thou me?". Instead, Jesus said, "Phileo thou me?". In other words, Jesus came down to Peter’s level. 

Peter had never depended upon Jesus alone. He had depended upon himself and failed and ended up giving up.  Peter was never successful until Jesus came down on Peter’s level and Peter allowed Jesus to rule in his life right where Peter was at that time. 

We see the progression in Jesus’ questions from feeding lambs, to caring for sheep, to feeding sheep;  a progression that says Jesus is calling Peter to a new level of commitment and leadership in the Kingdom. 

Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time.  Grief indicates sorrow, unhappiness, pain, and misery. Peter cannot move forward until he finally grieves not just his actions but also again feels the love for Jesus and others still present and buried within himself.  

This isn’t a negotiation.  Jesus wants Peter to see where his heart is!   

Jesus had to bring Peter to the place where he would be in touch with buried grief, and love, before any more progress is made in his life and faith. It would take three rounds of questioning to get Peter there. 

Jesus wants Peter to let go and trust God’s will for his life.  Jesus is saying to Peter, if you love me then you will be concerned about what I love and what is important to me: lost souls, teaching and making disciples of those reached. 

Once Jesus gets down to the bottom of Peter’s heart and Peter realizes what it feels like to fail, now he is ready to lead others who struggle with failure and insecurity; to “tend My sheep, feed My sheep;” teach and encourage the church; do Jesus’ work when He is gone.  

Jesus again says to Peter something that He said once before, “Follow me.” 

What a wonderful conversation!  Peter is brought out of retirement and declared fit for the ministry because he didn’t give up!  

Jesus also offers us a wonderful gift of forgiving and correcting our past.  When we fail Him, He will not shame or humiliate us.  Rather, Jesus lovingly takes us aside and simply asks us to reaffirm our love for Him.  

Our good news for today is to know there is a way to fix everything!  Let’s come alongside Jesus, like Peter, and reaffirm our love for Jesus.  

God will never give up on us because He wants to have a loving, personal and intimate relationship with us.  Even if we’ve made poor choices in the past that have left us with regret, remorse and guilt, we can still choose how we will live right now.  We can make a choice to allow the past to remain forgiven and behind us so that we can journey forward renewed and reaffirmed.  

We’ve seen in today’s scriptures that Peter is restored and yields his will to God’s plan.  Peter went on to be a pillar in the early Christian church.  Through his mistakes, he learned to walk with Jesus.  

What would Jesus say to us if He were sitting with us by the Sea of Galilee?  

Where is our heart?  On a scale of one to ten, is our devotion cold, lukewarm or hot? 

Do we remember when we were a new Christian and volunteers were needed for a ministry that our hand was the first hand to go up?  

Is that still true today?  Or do we look the other way when helpers are needed?   Do we take a step backwards or make excuses?  Or think, I’ll only do it if no one else will. 

What are we holding on to that is keeping the Lord from pouring the full measure of His Holy Spirit through us to minister to others? 

Just as Peter could not return to the place the Lord desired for him to be until Jesus did His digging and prodding, we also cannot move forward until we allow God, when it is necessary, to do the same for us. 

Romans 8:35-39 says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

If you have known God but walked away from His call on your life to do your own thing or have been wounded and are now angry with Him or feel like you can’t come back to Him because of the depth of your sin; you can be very confident that God is most concerned about the relationship He has with you.  He will not let anything get in His way, nothing now or from your past. 

When we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life again, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love.   God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms.   Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life. 

Whenever we make mistakes in life, we need to let them be a place of learning.  Whatever error we see, we need to replace it with truth.  

And whatever we do, we need to live by faith; faith that we will make mistakes; faith that God will see us through because God will restore, support, and strengthen each one of us and He will place us on a firm foundation. 

However, there may be someone reading or listening to this Message who hasn’t yet trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

Jesus invites us to fellowship with Him because He's a loving, forgiving Savior, full of grace. We can bring our broken dreams, hurts and failures to Him today.  He says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20). Will you accept His invitation?  

Through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection three days later, He makes victory possible for everyone. But some have been unwilling to take the steps that are necessary in order for that victory to be a reality in their life.  They have never accepted the gift of salvation that Jesus offers to all. They have never surrendered their will to His so that they can live in constant obedience to Him. Today could be their victory day. Today could be the day of their celebration. 

In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now. Accept His free gift of salvation today. 

In closing, let’s look at another example of forgiveness from Jesus Christ in John 4:1-14. 

While journeying through Samaria, Jesus encountered a woman at a well at mid-day. Jesus broke the socio-cultural norms of that day by talking with her. Not only was it unheard of for a man to speak to a woman in public, but Jews also hated Samaritans. This woman, who had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband, was also rejected by her own community, which explains why she’s drawing water at the hottest time of the day. Yet Jesus not only spoke to her but discussed a deep theological truth with her. 

In her encounter with Jesus, the woman found acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and a new beginning. Jesus did not define her by her past but as someone made in God’s image and worthy of love. Remember, our past mistakes don’t have to determine our futures. 

During the coming week may we all take time to draw closer to Jesus, may we spend time studying God’s Word and may we spend time in prayer with God.  May we use the gifts God has given us to serve and honor Him and find ways to share Jesus with our brothers and sisters through our words and deeds. 

May God bless you abundantly beyond your expectations.  In Jesus’ name, Amen