Well, good morning. North region of the Orlando Church of Christ. Whether you’re on Zoom or you’re here in person, we’re grateful to have you here and to be here together. Like I said, we’re going a little bit more on the simple side today. It’s about half of our normal set up because we have about half of our setup crew.

Real quick, let’s give it up for all of our AV team and all their hard work this morning. It’s tough coming off of Christmas and getting ready for a Church service the next morning. I’ll just say that. And with that in mind, I’ll just say it one last time. Merry Christmas.

Hopefully you all had a great holiday for those of you that still want to continue to listen to Christmas music and enjoy your life. You do you.

But here’s the question. Who’s ready for New Year’s? Yes, I didn’t think so. Me neither. Yeah, me neither.

For sure. Does anyone feel like this is like the weirdest combination of holidays ever? I feel like the Sunday service after Christmas is always this weird, like, holiday whiplash a little bit. You know what I’m saying? Like, yesterday was Christmas, and now I got to be ready for goals and the future and all of next year and reflect on what this last year has been.

I’m tired. It’s been stressful to try to think about preaching today, and I had this whole plan through the week. Man, I’m going to get ready. We’re going to kick off the New Year. We’re going to talk about repentance.

And I’ve got this great two part series. We’re talking about John the baptist. I was getting all ready for and I was like, no, I’m not ready. I can’t think about this all the way yet. So I’ve got another week to pray and think more about that sermon.

Today, we’re just going to spend some time with Jesus. Okay. And I realized after getting this ready, I was like, man, I needed this. I just needed to spend a little bit of time with Jesus. All right.

So we’ll talk about repentance next week. Keep eating your cookies I guess. We’ll talk about what that looks like next week and get ourselves ready for the New Year. And actually, it’s kind of better because, you know, that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work. It’s kind of arbitrary.

I’d rather talk about getting ready for the New Year and repentance after the New Year’s already happened. Go set off your fireworks because they’re legal here in Florida. Anyways, have a great week today. The title of my sermon is, who do you Love? Let’s say a word of prayer.

Father, I just want to thank you so much for the opportunity that we get right now just to be with you, to take a breath to kind of let the holiday and the time that we spent together here kind of get us into a mindset now where we can come into a place of worship with you. Father, I pray that you’ll help my heart right now and just all the anxiety and things that are running through my mind. God, I just want to be present with you.

I want to be a Mary at your feet and not a Martha right now. And I pray that what you will preach to us today will be exactly what you want us to hear.

Help us to be attentive to Jesus in Jesus name, we pray Amen. So all month long, we’ve spent focusing on the miracle of Jesus birth. Right. The beginning story, the BC part of it.

Today, we’re going to bookend Jesus’ life. We’re going to look at one of the last interactions that we see with Jesus in the Bible, where he comes and he spends time with Peter after the resurrection. All right? And this is actually a really powerful story. It’s a very significant one to me on so many different levels.

You may not think about this. I’m going to get into the minds of Peter in just a second. But this is after the crucifixion had taken place, or Peter denied Jesus three times. Right? And then there’s this story in John 21 that we’re going to read.

But without that story and it only appears in the gospel of John. Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t have it. So without this interaction, we’re left with Peter denying Jesus three times and then Acts 2 when he preaches at Pentecost. So there’s a pretty big gap right where this interaction is so powerful. And I want us to take a moment here and put ourselves into Peter’s mindset. Ok.

He had just denied his Savior three times and then witnessed the crucifixion from a distance. What do you think you would be feeling in those three days of waiting? Those three days of I can’t believe I just did that and now he’s gone. Even though he told you he was coming back. Do you really think in your heart of hearts you would be ready for it?

And then now you’re hearing Jesus is alive. He really did come back. He did exactly what he said. You think all that Peter experienced with Jesus, the sermons, the miracles, the mount of Transfiguration, watching dead people come to life. I mean, he witnessed so much stuff.

And then at the last supper, he’s sitting with Jesus, and he boldly tells him I would never betray you. I would die with you before that happens. You ever said something that you ended up really regretting later? Yeah. Last Supper for Peter I’d probably say. In that time he had three chances to own Jesus. How do you think he felt about Roosters after that?

Every time he heard the sound of a Rooster. Ch-ch. Do you need me to do it again? That’s a shotgun.

But now let’s get into our heads. I know this is a great Christmas. We just had Christmas yesterday. and we’re getting ready for New Years. Think about your worst moment in your life for a second, because that’s where Peter is at right now in this story, and he’s got three days to ruminate on it.

And now Jesus is back. There’s a concept in the Bible that only shows up, the word itself only shows up in a couple of passages in the New Testament. But it’s very powerful, and it really is what this whole story illustrates, that Jesus is going to demonstrate for us. I think it’s good to focus on where Peter was at here.

But the whole point of this today and I was talking about it is for us to turn our attention to Jesus and how he worked with Peter here. But there’s a word that we’re going to focus on today. It’s called reconciliation. And what reconciliation is in a nutshell, if we had to put it together, it’s taking a relationship that has been broken that’s been severed and bringing it to a place of wholeness again. And this could be in our relationships with one another.

But the places that shows up the most of the New Testament are in our relationship with God.

And as we read this story, God kind of leads us to a crossroads here where not just we’re thinking about our worst moment, but really, what we’re wrestling with is our continued humanity that even as we strive to know and love Jesus as we strive to be like Him, there’s still something there. There’s a problem, me.

And so God hearing this story is kind of forcing us to wrestle with our own humanity and our need for reconciliation. But also we see Jesus and his relentless love and vision for us. And that’s what we’re going to Hone in on here today. John, chapter 21 if you got your Bibles. Again, we’re going to pick up here in verse one. This is after Jesus had already resurrected.

Peter heard he was back. He’d already seen Jesus. And then we get this story here in verse one. Afterwards, Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the sea of Galilee. It happened this way. Simon Peter Thomas, also known as Dinamus Nathaniel from Canaan, Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together.

I’m going out the 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. Early in the morning, Jesus stood at the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. 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. Physics doesn’t really work that way with fish and water. But there you go. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciples, 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. But they were not far from shore, about 100 yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread.

Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish you have caught. So, Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish. 153. But even with so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, Come and have breakfast.

None of the disciples dared ask him, who are you? They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. Let’s pause there.

So as we just read the passage says Jesus had appeared to his disciples twice already. All right? Before this time. So they already knew he was there. So I don’t know exactly where Jesus was staying at or whatever, but here we got this situation with Peter, and Peter is struggling now that Jesus is back instead of being fired up. And like, I got to spend every waking minute with the Lord, he decides to go fishing.

All right, I got to go fish. You know, sometimes you can kind of feel that way, just like I just got to go ride a bike, go run something. And this seems meaningless by itself. But fishing also represents something for Peter, because fishing was his old life before Jesus.

And I think he was doing this because it was familiar. He was maybe flirting with his old life a little bit, maybe. But I think more. Maybe he was avoiding Jesus. And why? It’s a good question for us to think about.

Why? Why was Peter avoiding the Lord? Shouldn’t this be good news? The denial doesn’t have to be the end of your story.

And I don’t believe this is doubt that he’s wrestling with with Jesus being alive. He’d already seen it. They had the whole thing like touch my hands like the empty tomb, all that stuff. I think he’s wrestling with the fact that now that Jesus is alive, he has to face reality, the reality of betraying and denying Jesus three times. He has to face the consequences of his choices and his sins.

And I know I preached about this a few months ago, but I believe this is the main reason why Judas gave up, in contrast, because this is painful for us as human beings. Right? To have to stare our choices in the face. That’s why New Year’s can be rough, right? Coming to grips with our choices through the year, maybe even just for the holidays. That hit me yesterday, as I was thinking like, man, my stomach is not happy with me from the last two weeks. I’m going to have to detox next week this week just to feel normal on some level.

But we go out the holidays and we’re eating. We’re hanging out and doing all this different stuff.

And now we’re supposed to start fresh and have goals and be ready for ambition and 2022 is going to be the new year. Be careful with what you say, blah, blah, blah.

But there’s something that we see in Peter here that’s inside of all of us, and that’s shame. Shame is a very powerful thing. Shame feeds us with lies about our value to God and our value to each other. It can completely block us from the truth that Jesus offers and tells us maybe that we’re too far gone or we have to live in a state of penance for the rest of our lives in a self quarantined prison of shame.

And sometimes we’ll do everything and anything to avoid the truth of where we are and what we’ve done when we feel ashamed. We can indulge ourselves in the holidays all the way, eat, do the good things, the giving and stuff like that. But it’s all this avoidance.

And just like Peter, we can run to our jobs, our hobbies, social media, articles on your phone, basketball on Christmas, entertainment, whatever all to hide and run from shame.

And through so much of my life, shame has crippled me from seeing Jesus. In my past battles with sexual sin, with relationships with women that were ungodly with lies that I’ve told and just being a fraud in that way. But also the things in my life where God has continued to show me things in myself. This isn’t just old Jake. This isn’t just past Jake. This is Jake, today, this morning, yesterday. The last year or so through COVID, and definitely all that has kind of been upside down in our lives this last year I’ve had to wrestle with my pride and deep insecurity. And one of the things that God has highlighted for me, I think he’s been very needed for me to see, but very hard for me to see is this deep insecurity that I have of letting down my family.

This fear I have as a husband of disappointing my wife and not because of anything she has said or done. It is totally and 100% this internal thing in me, this deep fear I have of not being enough for my kids, of leading them away from God because of me.

And through this last year, even, it’s created some really dark moments of depression, isolation, the people that I love the most, the people that I’m most afraid of hurting and disappointing I isolate from. And I’ve told myself, you know, it’s better if I’m over here instead and many of us sit in the same kind of place. You may not be in that same struggle as me. You may not have that same internal battle. I hope you don’t.

But we’re still like Peter.

And it’s not all bad in this story. We see when John says it’s the Lord, Peter immediately he jumps off he grabs his garment. He jumps in the water. I know that there’s part of you, if you’re here right now, it’s because you want to believe you want to be close to Jesus, even if you’re struggling with it, even if you’re wrestling with your faith, if you don’t know how you feel about yourself or God or whatever that there’s a part of us that wants to be near Jesus. He’s wanting to engage. We’re wanting to follow him. Maybe for the first time or maybe again.

But you’re stuck facing the reality of your own human nature and fear or shame. Well, Jesus inserts himself into Peter’s life once again. I love this about Jesus. He doesn’t just leave Peter hanging. He doesn’t leave him in this moment. He physically inserts himself here, calls out for a miracle and says, Come on over. I got some breakfast ready.

And after they’re done eating, we’re going to continue reading here that Jesus decides to confront Peter’s demons. Let’s look at verse 15. 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 Jonah, 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, Follow me.

So let’s take a note for a second here of what Jesus doesn’t say. Peter, you moron? What’s wrong with you? What are you thinking? I’m here.

It’s not over. Get your act straight.

No, Jesus does something else. So sitting around the fire, probably staring away because I guarantee you Peter couldn’t look him in the eyes. Jesus asks him a very powerful question.

Do you love me, Peter?

Now, this isn’t a question to condemn him. Or maybe we would think kind of like asking your spouse on some level, like, do you love me? It’s not affirmation. Or this isn’t a question of emotion. This isn’t a question of how Peter feels about Jesus.

We tend to do that with love. We tend to kind of take the emotional side of it and kind of highlight that as the thing. Jesus asks him, and there’s another part of this, too. Back up for a second. The word love in the New Testament shows up as several different words in the Greek because in the English language we really only have the one word love.

But in the Greek there’s all kinds of different words to describe different types of love. So in this interaction, the first question that Jesus asks me says, Peter, do you agape me? Now the word agape is the word for unconditional love. It’s the love that God gives to us. Peter, do you love me with that deep love that only God offers to us that same kind of love that you committed to when you started following me?

This is a question to affirm why he chose Jesus in the first place, why he chose to give his life, why he would be willing to leave his nets and his livelihood behind to begin with. Why he would be willing to walk on water when it seemed absolutely beyond the realm of physics. Why he would be willing to preach to people. Peter, do you love me maybe more than these nets? Do you love me more than your fear? Do you love me more than this old job?

Do you love me more than your shame, your anxiety, your pet sin, your worst moment? Because oftentimes, whether we realize it or not, we do kind of covet the things that we hate.

We covet that part of us that we like the least. That sin we feel the heaviest about. Peter, do you love me more than these? Are you ready to be reconciled and restored to me again?

Well, Peter’s response to the agape love question. His response is not yes, Lord, I agape you. He says, yes, Lord, I FILEO you. Fileo love is familial love.

It’s, brotherly love. It’s not shallow, but it’s different. It’s not unconditional. It’s not the love of God. It’s the love you would have for somebody that could feel deep.

But when Jesus asked him, do you agape me? He says, yes, Lord, I Fileo you. In the midst of maybe the shame there, Peter couldn’t say, I unconditionally love you, Lord. But he could say, yes, I do love you as a close friend. Jesus says, okay, then feed my lambs.

But he doesn’t stop there. Peter, do you agape me? Yes, Lord. I already told you. I fileo you.

Well take care of my sheep. And the third time Jesus changes his word. Peter, do you really fileo me?

Do you really fileo me? Are you really my friend?

And I’m not sure I would love to kind of just be sitting, a fly on the wall doesn’t work when you’re outside at a fire. You get what I mean, though, to be an earshot of this and to think about what Jesus may have meant in that moment. And I don’t know. I don’t know if I can if I firmly answer what I think was going on here in this interaction.

But I do have some thoughts. Thinking the same way that Peter, what he does here that’s interesting, is in the same way that Peter was asked if he was a follower of Jesus. Are you with this man? He was asked that three times.

Jesus mirrors that same moment a few days later. Do you love me, Peter? And he takes that sin, those moments of shame, the things that he probably was running from the most, that he could sleepless nights over for days. And Jesus decides to confront it with this question.

He takes this broken man who probably couldn’t look his Savior in the eye, and he leads him to the core question that really all of us are supposed to ask.

Peter didn’t know in that moment if he could agape Jesus. So maybe in this interaction Jesus was kind of meeting him in that space. I said, okay, Peter, I get that you’re not there. But are you really my friend? Do you really fileo me?

Said it twice now. I want to check.

And then Jesus takes these statements and the shame from those denials. And he basically told Peter, Look, I’m not done with you yet. I’ve got more for you to do. Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep. And at the end of it, he reminds him.

He says the exact same words that he said to him the day that he met him on the shore of Galilee. Get up and follow me. If you’re really my friend, come with me again. You know, and from what we can see in the Bible, Jesus never asked him this question again.

Maybe there was no need. I do believe that Jesus is not interested in penance. God is not interested in this flogging ourselves over our choices. He does want a broken heart and a broken spirit. We’ll talk about that next week with repentance.

But Jesus doesn’t want us living in a perpetual state of penance. Here’s a story last year from India. I don’t know if early on in the pandemic, you were paying attention to some of the stuff going on there. But part of what India had to do to get the lockdowns under control to start off with is they had police officers running around with like Canes, and they’re just whacking people for being out of their homes. Totally crazy stuff.

There’s some gnarly videos out there, but there was this story that even at the beginning of COVID, there were tourists that came in to visit and that weren’t abiding by the lockdowns.

As far as we know, they didn’t cane them, but they did make them sit down and write out 500 times I did not follow the rules of lockdown. Couldn’t beat the tourists. So fine. You’re going to learn your lesson. You’re going to know what you did.

Sit down and 500 times over, you’re going to say I did not follow the rules.

That, to me, is a great picture of penance.

God’s not interested in that.

Jesus wasn’t interested in following Peter around for 50 days, that he was alive before he left off to heaven to say, Peter, do you really love me? I mean, really? Do you love me? Because you could have said it, but you didn’t. Do you really love me?

Part of why I believe God has allowed everything he has over the last two years is I believe that Jesus is trying to confront us in our demons, in our sin, in the truth of not just the things we’ve done but who we are, the parts of us that are broken.

He’s trying to wrestle with our shame in a very unique way. That time alone, that time away from people, that time kind of in the uncertainty kind of made us look in the mirror a little bit differently, didn’t it?

And what it revealed is that really a lot of us we’re kind of in our I hate repackaging this stuff, but we’re in our boats of self quarantine trying to fish unsuccessfully, and he’s inviting us to come and sit with Him to remind us of who he is. That little miracle. I love that miracle.

Here are these guys sitting on the water for a full night not catching anything and Jesus goes, Did you try the other side? Fishermen is that how fish work? No. Yeah, but it’s just a little reminder, like, guys, you remember who I am, right?

Because you’re out here trying to do this stuff again. But you’re forgetting who I am.

And through this time for me, I’ve seen Jesus confronting me, confronting me a lot, a lot. And in my nature, I live in a state of penance, of self flagellation. I’m throwing my nets out there like Peter just in vain, thinking, if I’m busy, if I work, if I do stuff, if I’m making sure our YouTube channel looks good and the cameras are set up right? If I’m in here sweating and working hard on Sundays and I’m leading the music, if I’m doing all these things, then it’ll make God happy.

And really at the core of it, and this is one of the things that God will just continually take me to task over is I don’t trust what God says about my value.

And Jesus is constantly asking me, Jake, do you love me more than these? Do you love me more than this? Do you love me more than this?

There’s a tough thing that we all have to wrestle with. You and I will never completely be rid of our humanity. And I don’t know about you, but that makes me really angry because I want to believe I even view repentance again next week. That repentance is this place of arrival where I’m done with this part of me. I’ve finished doing this. I’m no longer this. And that’s not how it works.

But even in our continual humanity, Jesus through the cross confronts us.

Maybe every Sunday during communion, maybe during your quiet time. Maybe after that fight with your significant other, Jesus confronts that part of us, and he’s inviting us to see that His love has not run out on us. But confronting our humanity will lead us to one of three places, I believe. And it’s not the only three. But these are the main three I would say. It either leads us to shame that leads to hiding and avoiding. Part of us doesn’t want to deal with. I’m just going to go fish.

Number two is a shame that leads us to penance. This need to constantly prove that we’re not going to do it again? Bad, bad, or it leads to what Jesus was trying to help Peter with. It leads to reconciliation.

I think in some ways, though not in some ways. We have to recognize that you have to be willing to confront those parts of you. If you’re not confronting it, you’re probably in one of the first two.

The resurrection gives you the hope of repentance and reconciliation in our relationship with God. And it’s not just that one time. It’s not when you say Jesus is Lord, the day that you were baptized. That was a great day. Just like I will never forget my wedding day.

I will never forget the day that I was baptized. But every single day of my life, I’ve still got to choose to be married to that woman. I’ve still got to wrestle with my flaws as a husband.

But nothing you have done or could ever do will be bigger than the power of the resurrection. And we’re going to take Communion in just a moment together. But I want to read one more passage, 2 Corinthians five.

So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view, though we once regarded Christ this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old is gone and the new is here. All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the Ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ not counting. Sorry. Not counting people’s sins against Him, and He’s committed to us the message of reconciliation.

We are therefore back it up. It went way too fast. All right. I’m just going to read it to you. You can follow along with me.

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. There you go.

I lost my place again. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. I got through it man. Technology, right?

So in this passage, Paul is writing to a Church of disciples who had been in sin and it needed to be reconciled again. You’ve ever read the book of one Corinthians in kind of a one sit before? It often gets referred to as a book of problems. Like you read it and you go like, this is a Church? Really, people getting drunk on Communion wine?

But in this letter and possibly the second or third letter, this is that he writes to them. He reminds them that Jesus died to reconcile the world of God, to take our broken relationships again at the Lordship, at the baptism, when we made the commitment to be married, to give ourselves and sealed to Jesus. But continually as we sever our relationship with God and our choices to be reconciled through the cross. That Jesus died to take us at our worst, as enemies of God in our sin and restore us to being children of God.

Jesus rescued Peter through the cross and the resurrection. But notice here, even though the resurrection had already taken place, Peter wasn’t reconciled. The cross and the resurrection had happened, but he wasn’t ready yet.

He still needed to choose to be reconciled.

The awesome thing about this story is that Peter did choose it. He got up. He followed Jesus even in his brokenness. And that’s where we get the Acts two story, him preaching at Pentecost and 3000 being baptized that day. But that story would not have been possible without this one.

Without the reconciliation story. We would go, wait a minute, this is the same guy that just denied Jesus like everyone was cool after that? Peter was willing to confront this. He was willing to be reconciled. The thing that always shakes me in this is that he and Judas were in a very similar place in the cross story.

But Peter chose it. And Judas didn’t.

If you’re a disciple of Jesus or if you haven’t made him Lord yet, he is trying to meet you where you are. You may not be ready to say I agape you, Lord. You may just be in a Fileo place. You’re saying, okay, let’s start there. And he’s trying to implore you as it says here in these words. I love the words that Paul uses. You saying, look, we are trying to offer you be reconciled to God. It’s there. It’s waiting for you.

But you got to choose it. And the question for all of us in this is, who do you love?

If you’re searching, you’re in need of reconciliation and that can be in a lot of different places. Please talk to somebody. If you’re on Zoom, we’ll invite you to send it out in the chat. Do something. Reach out to somebody.

Let’s talk. Let’s get into the Bible and talk about reconciliation. What does it look like? We’re going to take our Communion right now. Let’s go ahead and say a word of prayer.