Making it REAL [5-10-20]


Here we are…wrapping up our series on the Gospel of John. We have been learning and growing together in ways only God knew was possible. We've even been shepherded through a season of quarantine with the promise that no matter what we go through or experience in life, all is well because Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God.


We're going to look at these last verses of John 21 to discover how we can have a real relationship with Jesus Christ.


First:

RECOGNIZE HIS PRESENCE EVERYWHERE.

Let's start with the obvious. When we're in worship, we experience the presence of God. Jesus said, wherever two or more are gathered in his name, he is there. So, inarguably, when we are in worship with other believers, Jesus is present. That doesn't mean worship is the only place you can feel his presence. You can feel it on a mountain…you can feel it sitting by a fountain. You can feel it by the lake…you can feel it while holding a rake. You can feel it here and there…you can feel it anywhere. Although we feel his presence more in some places than others, the presence of Jesus Christ is real in every aspect of our lives. Are you with me on that?


When the seven disciples went to the Sea of Tiberias, do you think they were doing the wrong thing? After all that happened, they basically took a mini-vacation. I think they were doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Not the smartest or wisest thing to do. But guess what? Even when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jesus shows up. Amen? Now, don't misunderstand. I'm not saying Jesus is some kind of Elf-on-a-Shelf, spying on you {I always thought that was creepy; and bad theology}. All I'm saying is because Jesus is everywhere, your relationship with him doesn't have to fit into certain places at certain times. He is a part of every part of your life.


If you want to have a real relationship with Jesus, second:

ENJOY HIS COMPANY.

Let's look at John 21:9-14:

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now 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 so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

What are the disciples doing? They're eating a meal with Jesus. When you read what Bible commentators say about this scene, they're bending over backwards trying to figure it all out. What does the fish mean? What about the bread? What does it mean that Jesus made the fire? How did he make the bread? What does it mean that they ate together? How does Jesus eat in his resurrection body? Why does a resurrection body need to eat?


Remember what we've said about John's gospel throughout this series…everything is simply put. No need to over think it. These verses mean that Jesus wants to be with his disciples. That's what it means. No matter what we go through or experience in life, we are never alone, because Jesus is our Risen Lord. In this case, Jesus wanted to be with his friends. And there were some things he wanted to share with them.


Do you read the Bible just to be with Jesus? Not to study but simply to read what he said and did? To see his words? How many times do we…and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it…but how many times are we so focused on our growth and ministry, that that's the only reason we turn to his Word? How many times are we so focused on finding solutions for our problems or answers for our problems…again, nothing wrong with those things…but are we so focused on those things that we've pushed out any sense of just enjoying Jesus' presence?


When was the last time you simply said, "Lord Jesus, I'm glad you're here?" "Thank you, Lord, for being with me." How often do we do that? I want to encourage you to simply spend time enjoying being in the

company of your friend, Jesus.


As Tim Keller observes:

The question of the Book of Job is posed in its very beginning. Is it possible that a man or woman can come to love God for Himself alone so that there is a fundamental contentment in life regardless of circumstances? Yes, this is possible, but only through prayer.

One of the great ends of prayer is simply enjoying being in the company of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.


If you want to have a real relationship with Jesus, third:

ACCEPT HIS INVITATION.

Think about invitations you've gotten in the mail. There are different kinds with different responses. So I don't get judgmental, I'm simply going to mention three different responses without spelling out the invitation:


  1. "No way am I ever going to that. That's the last place on earth I'd want to be."

  2. "If nothing else is going on, maybe I'll go. But only if I've got nothing better to do."

  3. "There's no way I'm missing that. I'll be there come hell or high water."


Every invitation from Jesus needs to be a category three response. What did Jesus say to the disciples? "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught…and come and have breakfast." Who's going to say "No" to that invitation?


You might be thinking, "Jesus isn't going to show up on a seashore and invite me someplace." Of course not. Two thousand years later, it's an invitation that happens in the heart. Remember what we've been saying throughout this series. John remembers and includes certain things because he wants them to be our experience today. Jesus is inviting you to spend time with him today.


Here's where that leads:


  • When we can gather again for worship, that's Jesus' invitation to be with other believers. Accept it.

  • Anytime you're nudged to pray about something, that's an invitation from Jesus. Accept it.

  • Anytime you think you want to do something good for someone, that's an invitation from Jesus. Accept it.

  • Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, are all invitations from Jesus. Accept them.


So far we've seen, if you want a real relationship with Jesus, to:


RECOGNIZE HIS PRESENCE EVERYWHERE.

ENJOY HIS COMPANY.

ACCEPT HIS INVITATION.


Finally, fourth:

LOOK TO HIS LEADERSHIP.

Keep your eyes upon Jesus. Years ago, there were bracelets and bumper stickers and even sermon series around the acrostic WWJD - What Would Jesus Do. I always thought it was slightly ajar. I thought it should be

WWJHMD - What Would Jesus Have Me Do.


Something significant happened at the Sea of Tiberias. The Bible says they sat down and Jesus took some bread and gave it to them and then some fish. A lot of us are reminded here of the feeding of the 5000. That's a familiar miracle. It's also what Jesus did with all his disciples in the Upper Room before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Anytime Jesus invites us into his presence, he has something important to say.


  • RECOGNIZE HIS PRESENCE EVERYWHERE.

  • ENJOY HIS COMPANY.

  • ACCEPT HIS INVITATION.

  • LOOK TO HIS LEADERSHIP.


Don't ever settle for anything less than a real relationship with Jesus. Let's now look at what happened when Peter accepted Jesus' invitation for a real relationship. It's from verses 15-19:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Here's what I want us to see as we close our series with this loving and merciful interaction between Jesus and Peter. Remember how the gospel began. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then John spends 20 chapters putting flesh to that profound declaration. And now, the Word made flesh is having words with a man who desperately needs to know how much he is loved and forgiven. And John writes this down because he knows how much we need to know that we are loved and forgiven.

We remember that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. It was a horrible betrayal and a sign of total lack of faith in who Jesus was and what he was doing. In the end, Peter knew that, and he wept bitterly. So what does Jesus do here in chapter 21? He walks Peter through three moments of restoration.

While Peter failed miserably, Jesus loved him magnificently. And Jesus wants that for us, too. Do you know how deeply and wonderfully you are loved by God? If you do, Jesus says these are the three things that will happen in your life:


  • You will make a difference in other people's lives.

  • You will love people the way Jesus loves them.

  • And then, quite simply, you will willingly follow Jesus wherever he leads you.

Those are the ways to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Let's pray:

Lord Jesus, while we are not at the seashore with you, we are your disciples, and these words were written for us, too. We refresh our commitment to you. Would you strengthen our faith? Would you help us trust you more and more each day? We need your power. We need your love. We need your forgiveness. Remind us again that we are not in this alone. We can follow you. We pray these things in your name. Amen.






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