Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sermon: John 21: 1-25 Do You Love Me?

This morning I want to think about our senses. We have five senses - what are they? Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

God has made us to (normally) have all five; all work together to help us experience life, to store up memories, and so on...

Some smells might take you back to some other moment, so I need some volunteers with a good sense of smell to know what these are:
- Talcum powder reminding you of when your children were small
- Aftershave or perfume - from your first date with your husband or wife
- For me, Scampi Fries take me back to a family holiday when I was 4, sitting on the steps outside the hotel in the Isle of Man, eating these horrible things!
- Another smell you might smell soon (if not already this year) - the smell of a BBQ, not a gas one, a real one, charcoal fire. Smell of summer, of fun, of delicious food...

Smell of charcoal fire brings back unpleasant memories for Peter. Doesn’t associate it with food and family and fun. He is brought back to a dark night, full of frightening things, when he warmed himself by a fire.

Peter needed this new experience by the charcoal fire - and we need to learn from it too. But before we look at it, I’ve got a Family Fortunes question about bbqs: Name a popular food on a BBQ? Answers: Sausage, steak, chicken, burger.

A right answer gets a ‘ding’, a wrong answer gets the ‘ugh-ogh’. The first night by the charcoal fire, Jesus had been arrested. Peter had said he was so brave, the rest of the disciples might run away, but not him. In John 18, he is asked three questions by the charcoal fire:

You are not one of his disciples, are you? (18:17) ‘I am not’

You are not one of his disciples, are you? (18:25) ‘I am not’

Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove? (18:27) Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Three ugh-oghs. Three denials. Peter says he doesn’t know Jesus. Isn’t connected to Jesus. Doesn’t follow Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross the next morning. Peter had let Jesus down. But on the Sunday, Jesus was alive again. He met with the disciples on Easter Sunday, and the following Sunday. But then Peter didn’t know what to do. He decided to go fishing, back to his old work, back to what he knew best. He had let Jesus down. Surely Jesus didn’t want him now?

They fished all night. Caught nothing. A stranger on the beach shouted to put their nets on the other side, and they caught a huge number of fish - 153. John realises it is Jesus, so Peter swims to shore to meet him.

Jesus has the beach barbecue, the charcoal fire, with bread and fish. And Jesus simply asks three questions. Or rather, one question three times. How will Peter answer this time?

Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
Simon son of John, do you truly love me?
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.
Simon son of John, do you love me?
Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.

Jesus knows the answer, but he echoes the denials. He asks three times, to take away the denials, and restore Peter.

Jesus hasn’t finished with Peter. Failure is not final. We might mess things up, we might say things that we regret, but with Jesus we can come back to him and find forgiveness. And more than that, Jesus still has a job for Peter to do...

Feed my lambs... Take care of my sheep... Feed my sheep...

Peter leads the church; writes bits of the Bible; becomes an under shepherd working under Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Perhaps you have messed things up with Jesus...
Perhaps you have pretended that you don’t know him, when the heat comes in school, work, with friends, with family...
Perhaps your words have claimed that you’re not his follower...

Jesus will bring us back to him. Jesus asks the question: Do you love me?

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 19th April 2015.

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