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(John 20:19-21:25) Turning Cowards Into Crusaders

(John 20:19-21:25) Turning Cowards Into Crusaders

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Mark
Ref: John 20:19–31; 21

There is no doubt that Jesus' death on the cross changed world history forever. But what Jesus did during the 40 days after his resurrection is what turned the world upside down. He turned 12 scared cowards into die-hard evangelists who then spread the Gospel throughout the world.




(John 20:19-21:25)

One of the common misconceptions about Jesus Christ’s teaching ministry is that it ended with the cross and the resurrection.  We have the idea that the disciples got all they were going to get by the time that Jesus had died.  Far from it.  As a matter of fact, if Jesus had not come back and spent the last few appearances with the disciples, I think we could have chalked Christianity up and said it began and it ended with the resurrection or the empty tomb.  That’s it.  Why?  Well, take a look, for a moment, at the disciples.  One had already ended his life.  Ten were in hiding.  The most vocal spokesman of the entire group, Peter, was now silenced with shame.  And another disciple, named Thomas, had already deserted the group, disillusioned and unbelieving.  Yet, John, chapter 20, and John, chapter 21, reveal for us, as we’ll study this morning, just a few more beautiful facets of the character of Jesus’ love.  And, a fascinating thing that I discovered while studying these two chapters, as we are taking up where Mark leaves off, as we’ve concluded our study through that gospel of action, is that Jesus Christ says some things that are so obviously for you and me.  And it’s so clear that everything He says is designed for twentieth century Christianity.  Colonial Baptist Church and you are in mind, as we’ll discover as we study it together.  For those of you who have notes, I’ve divided it into three different appearances, the final three appearances of Jesus Christ.

John, chapter 20, begin with me at verse 19.  “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were,” - the ten that were in hiding - “for fear of the Jews,” - not to pray but because they were afraid - “Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them,” - “Shame on you, cowards, sniveling group of runaways.  I can’t believe I ever chose you.”  Why if that had said that in the text, you and me would have, “Amen.  Preach it.  That’s exactly what they need, those bunch of lousy cowards.”  And we could have camped out here for awhile, couldn’t we?  But Jesus comes in on the scene and His first word is, “Peace,” literally, “Peace” - to - “you.”  This is the same word “eirene,” that He used when He stood at the bow of the ship and He said, “Peace, be still,” to the waves and the water and the wind, and it obeyed.  And now, that same word, He employs here to bring peace and calm and stillness to the hearts of His troubled followers.

I want you to note a couple of other things about this passage, not only the use of this word but, the miracle of the resurrection body.  Look at verse 20, “And when He had said” - “Peace” - “He showed them” - the tokens of His peace, that is - “His hands and His side.”  That is, He still had scars on His hands and at His side.  And Luke tells us that there were still scars on His feet.  But you’ll notice, it’s implied in here, that everything else is whole.   Obviously, it’s a bloodless body.  In fact, the wound in His side is open for someone to observe.  The fascinating thing about Jesus when He rose from the grave is that He, in His glorified body, had everything fixed and healed and put back together.  No more thorn prints on his brow.  His bloodied face is now whole.  His scarred back is now completely like it was at birth.  But yet, He left marks in His hands, and at His side, and in His feet.  What a beautiful picture of His sacrifice that He wants you and I to remember for all of eternity.  In fact, one day we will look on Him, whom we pierced, and we’ll notice that those wounds were for us.  So Jesus comes in and He says, “Peace” - to - “you.”  How in the world could there be peace?  And He shows them why.  “Look at My hands.  Look at My side.”

But, I also want you to notice the recommissioning.  Look at verse 21, “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’”  And that must have been a shock to these men.  “You mean you’re still going to use us?  You’re still going to send US?”  “Yes.”  And He says, “Just” - “as the Father has sent Me” - “with all of the authority and all of the power to do His bidding, now, with all of that authority, I’m going to send you.”  No wonder it says they, “rejoiced when they saw” - Him.  And how they must have rejoiced.

Now notice verse 22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  This is a pre-Pentecost libation of what will happen.  This is, kind of, the aroma of the day to come.  It’s a fresh glimpse of all of that which will be theirs one day soon, at Pentecost.  And how it must have encouraged them.  And then He says, “If you forgive the sins of any,” - this is the power of the kingdom call now - “If you forgive the sins of any,” - and you’re preaching - “their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any,” - “they rebel against what you will have to say, then they will still hold their sin.”  So, in His first appearance, He encourages His disciples.  And, you know, it’s interesting that, although the disciples had abandoned Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ had not abandoned them.  Although they were floundering in their commitment to Him, He was not floundering in His commitment to them.  It’s obvious the disciples were ready to chuck it all and go back to fishing.  But, Jesus Christ persisted in His teaching, in His reshaping, in His molding, in His changing them from cowards into crusaders.

Now, someone missed the meaning, you notice, verse 24, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus,” - or called “the twin,” evidently he had a twin brother or sister - “was not with them when Jesus came.”  You know, it’s fascinating that he is so like many of us.  Whenever they are faced with great sorrow and disillusionment, some people will find comfort around other people.  But then, there are some people, like Thomas, who retreat to some hidden corner.  They draw the wall up and they want to be alone.  That was Thomas.  He wasn’t with the ten.  He’d gone, perhaps hiding.  And he was disillusioned, look at verse 25, “The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’  But he said to them,” - “Fantastic!”  No. - “he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’”  He was so disillusioned.  He was destroyed.  “I can’t believe.  That’s too good to be true.”  You know, we always get on to Thomas for doubting but, I think, his doubt came from a genuine heart of love.  “You mean He . . . No, it can’t be . . . it couldn’t be true.  Until I see it, I can’t believe.”  You see, they had spent three years plus with Jesus Christ and they had thought that He’d instigate and bring in the kingdom, and then their hopes were shattered.  And Thomas, evidently, took it harder than anybody else.  And he said, “Well, I want to believe but I won’t until I see it with my own eyes.”

So, Jesus Christ appears to him.  Isn’t it fascinating that Jesus is, not only interested in the whole body of disciples, the whole group but, He’s interested in individuals in the group.  It’s a great picture of what a church ought to be.  “And after eight days again” - verse 26 - “His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them.” - this time.   Perhaps they convinced him to join them again, maybe by encouraging him.  Anyway, he’s there.  He didn’t know that Jesus would appear.  And the doors were shut.  “Jesus came . . . and stood in their midst”.  He just “whew,” just evaporated through the wall, came into the room.  And, after they got their composure, I imagine, Jesus said, “Peace” - to - “you.” - again.  He’s repeating Himself.  Why?  Because Thomas hadn’t heard Him say it the first time.  He missed it.  So, Jesus says, “Peace”- to - “you.”  And, “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’”  He carbon copied Thomas’ statement of doubt.  If you look at verse 25 and then back to verse 27, Jesus says, in verse 27, “Reach here your finger”.  Thomas said, “If I don’t” - “put my finger into the place of the nails”.  Jesus said, in verse 27, “see My hands”.  And Thomas said, “Unless I shall see in His hands”.  Jesus said, “reach here your hand, and put it into My side”.  Thomas said, “and put my hand into His side”.  Jesus said, “and be not unbelieving, but believing.”  Thomas said, “I will not believe.”  You see how Jesus came on the scene and, just in a few sentences, I’m sure, wiped Thomas out.  It blew his mind because Jesus was saying, carbon copy, everything that Thomas had said he would need to believe.  Jesus reappears just for him.

But, I’ve got to be honest with you, ladies and gentlemen, Thomas did miss something.  He missed the breathing of the Holy Spirit on them, that special libation of pre-Pentecostal power.  He missed it.  You know, there is a tremendous thought here for you and me.  It is the individual who is sticking in there, you know, staying by it that receives that encouragement.  It would be like you going to a track race, you know, some competition and there is an endurance race.  And you’re sitting on the sidelines and you leave and you think, “I’m never going back.  I didn’t get a second wind.”  Well, of course you didn’t get a second wind, you weren’t running.  It’s like the football player on the sidelines and he’s complaining that his uniform doesn’t get muddied and dirtied up.  Well, of course it isn’t, he’s not playing.  So, there’s a real challenge here, that Jesus gave peace to Thomas and He took care of Thomas’ unbelief and yet, Thomas did miss some things by not staying with the rest of the disciples.

So, Thomas, in verse 28, we call him “Thomas, the doubter,” and yet, in all the New Testament, no one made the statement that declared the deity of Christ more than Thomas.  In verse 28, notice what he says, “My Lord and my God!”  Then, “Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they” - in 1988 -   “who did not see, and yet believed.’”  You see, the truth is that you and I today rely on the invisible power of Jesus Christ, not His visible presence.  We rely on His invisible power.  You know, the Christian community today is searching for something visible, something tangible, whether it’s a splinter from the Ark, you know, the shroud of Turin, a vision of Christ, something.  That’s our nature.  And yet, Jesus says, “Look, you’re more fortunate and you’re more blessed, if you believe without seeing, than those who see and then, because they saw, believe.  Do you know something, you and I are more fortunate to not have Jesus Christ here, in the flesh, than the disciples who had Him?  You know, you and I get the idea that the disciples were really the lucky ones.  Man, any question they had, they could go right there and He’s the encyclopedia of all the answers.  They had it!  They were filled with doubt, they had Him.  But the writer in Hebrews would say that our faith has become the substance, the literal, tangible, substance of things we can’t see.  In other words, Thomas is over here and he can see Jesus.  You and I are over here and we can’t but we have faith.  That - “faith” - gives us - “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  And, in fact, Jesus, kind of, tilts the scale, and He says, “You over here, who don’t see and yet believe, you are more fortunate, you are more blessed.  Happy are you.”  Listen, if there were visions of God today, I wouldn’t want one.  Because God says that I am more blessed by not having it and yet, continuing to believe.  Well, verse 30, He kind of wraps it up in a quick verse.  He says, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these” - the ones that I have given you - “have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”.

Now, he goes on for His third appearance.  I want you to notice it, verse 1 of chapter 21.  And we’ll kind of race through this because we don’t have as much time as I’d like.  But, let’s just race through this part here.  “Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples”.  They are out there fishing.  They shouldn’t have been.  They should have been out preaching but they weren’t, they were fishing.  They’d gone back to their old occupation.  They had been fishing all night.  Guess what?  They didn’t catch a thing.  So, Jesus appears on the shore.  Look at the last part of verse 3, “and . . . they caught nothing.  But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus . . . said . . .” - “Boys,” literally - “you do not have any fish, do you?”  How many of you fish?  Let me see.  Do we have any fishermen around here?  You know, that’s a cruel question, isn’t it?  If somebody’s been, I don’t fish but I’ve got enough sense to know that, if somebody fishes all night and they don’t catch anything, they’re not going to tell you.  If they did catch something, they’ll tell you.  Jesus stands out there on the beach and says, “You didn’t catch anything, did you?”  And, “They answered . . . ‘No.’”  And I’ll bet they muttered under their breath, “Who’s this smart aleck?”  Now, not only do you not want to ask somebody who’s been fishing all night and didn’t catch anything, if they caught anything, if they say, “No,” the last thing you want to do is tell them, “Now, look, if you throw your lure on the other side of the boat, you’ll catch something.”  You don’t give them advice.  Look at what Jesus does, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.”  Now, the amazing thing is that, the disciples did not know this was Jesus.  They must have been beaten men because they did it!  And we don’t even have a notice that they complained.  “They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”  This is a different group of disciples here.  You know, two months earlier, I could see Peter standing up and saying, “Son, I don’t know who you are out there, but I happen to know fishing.  And I know that moving my lure three and a half feet is not going to catch anything.  So keep your advice to yourself.”  No.  They threw the net over and then they couldn’t haul it in.  They had, literally, 153 large fish.  “That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved” - verse 7 - “ said to Peter, ‘It’s the Lord.’”  Then they caught on.  “And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,” - he took off his coat and he jumped into the sea and he began to swim to shore - “But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.”  You know, it’s fascinating, when they get to the shore, Jesus already has a fire going and He already has fish on it.  There are several miracles here that we could spend a lot of time getting in to.  He has made a fire out of charcoal.  I don’t know where He got the charcoal from.  Maybe He snapped (snap fingers) it into existence.  And then He lays fish.  So that He’s not even going to use their 153 fish.  That’s the third thing that he did wrong to these fishermen, He brings his own fish.  So they can’t brag, you know,  “Oh, look at that one.  Let’s eat this one.  Peter caught that one.”  “Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”  That’s another miracle in itself.  And, “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’  None of the disciples” - dared - “to question Him, ‘Who are You?’ knowing that it was the Lord.”  You know, you probably wonder, “Why in the world are they hesitant even?”  Because the last time they saw Jesus, He was being led away by the mob.  And they had heard the stories that His face was beaten, that His back was scarred, that He was one bloody mess.  And here’s this man standing here and it’s as if He’d never been in a fight.  He’d been crucified.  So they were a little hesitant, “Is this who we think it is?  Well, yes it is.”  But they don’t dare ask Him.  “This is now the third time” - verse 14 - “that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.”

Now, this is a beautiful picture that I want to spend the rest of our time with.  The appearance that, I think, was designed just for Peter.  The other one was designed for Thomas.  The first one was designed for the disciples as a whole.  This one was designed for Peter.  Look what happens in verse 15.  “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus says to Simon Peter, ‘Simon’”.  Now, this is, kind of, a little bit of a cut.  His name is not Simon anymore, you remember.  He’s been renamed Peter, “Petros,” Rock.  And Jesus calls him Simon, his old name, the name that signified the failing of the flesh.  And yet, with all tenderness, I think, He says, “Simon, son of John, do you” - “agapao” - “do you love Me more than these?”  I think what He is referring to there when He asks “more than these,” is the rest of the disciples.  I don’t think He had the fishing boat in mind or the nets because Peter had so quickly dropped those but Peter was always comparing himself, “Oh Lord, compared to all of the other disciples, I’m at the top of the heap.  My love for you is incredible.”  So, Jesus says, “Peter,” - “do you” - “agapao” - “do you” - really - “love Me more than these?” - men.  Was there a change in Peter?  Yes, there was.  Look what he says.  “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’” - period.  We’re talking about a different Peter.  The old Peter would have said, “Oh Lord, need you ask?  Of course I love you more than these guys.”  Oh no, Peter had failed miserably.  And I don’t think he’ll ever get over it.  In fact, the greatest thing that ever happened to the apostle Peter is that he failed.  No doubt about it.  Because that revolutionized him more than a million sermons.  He failed.  And he took a good look at himself and he said, “Peter, you’re nothing but a big bag of hot air.”  And so, when Jesus comes along and says, “Simon, do you” - really - “love Me?”  Peter says,  “Oh” - “Yes . . . You know that I” - do - “love You.” - “phileo.”  “Phileo,” the relationship between God and Jesus uses this Greek word.  A lot has been said about the fact that Peter says, “Well, Lord, I like you.”  And then Jesus says, “Well, do you love Me?”  And Peter says, “Well, no, I only like you.”  And that’s not really correct.  Because he’s using a very strong Greek word, “phileo,” means all the affection of the heart.  But, Jesus had asked him, “Do you ‘agapao’ Me?”  That means, “Do you  love Me with the will?”  “Have you made up your mind now, Peter, that you will love me, no matter what?”  And Peter couldn’t say that because he had failed.  And he couldn’t say, “Lord, I’ll never fail You again.  This time, I’m going to the cross.”  But, he does come back with a very strong Greek word.  He says, “Yes, Lord; You know that I” - have all the affection of my heart for - “You.”

Notice what Jesus then says.  He says, “Tend My lambs.”  Literal translation, “Tend the little ones.”  “Take care of the immature believers.  Take care of the new believers.  Take care of the little ones that need nursing, that need taking care of, that need their diapers changed, that need watching after.”  Now, wait a second, He’s telling big, burley, strong Peter to take care of the little babies?  Yes.  How can He ever hope that Peter will ever nurse the lambs?  Because Peter has affection for Him.  We’re going to say more about this in a moment but the beginning, the basis, the motivation for serving people is, not because you love people but, because you love Christ.  And so, He says to, “Tend the lambs,” that means, you take care of the little babies.  And that takes a special heart.  Our littlest one has now entered the slobber stage.  You know what that’s like?  Constantly drooling.  Whenever I pick her up and I hold her, she, with mouth slobbering, wide open, goes for my chin.  And, am I going to let her do that?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because I love her.  I mean, if she wants to show affection that way and she’s slobbering while she does it, fine, I’ll let her.  If she wants to show love in that way, great.  That’s where she is.  I’ll let her.  Well, you see what the Lord is telling Peter, “Look, you’re going to deal with 3,000 babies in just a few months, 3,000 new infants to the church in Jerusalem.  And you’re going to be the pastor/shepherd.  You’re going to lead them.  And they’re going to slobber.  They’re going to get messy.  But I want you to love them.  Tend My lambs.”  How can He ever hope that big, burley, oppressive, obnoxious Peter will not step on babies but tend them?  I’ll tell you how.  Peter failed and, with that failure, he gained compassion and graciousness so he could tend the lambs.

So, the Lord goes on a second time, verse 16.  “He said to him again a second time,” - “Okay, comparisons aside now” - “Simon, son of John, do you” - really “agapao” - “Me?”  And, “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’”  And, “He said to him,” - this time - “Shepherd my sheep.”  The word is “poimaino,” from which we get our word “pastor,” or “feeder.”  He says, “Peter, then I want you to feed the sheep.”  Collectively, He’s got in mind the whole body here.  “One day I want you to stand with all of those infants and I want you to do one thing, I want you to feed them.  That’s the commission.”  Did Peter forget?  Absolutely not.  Because in Acts, chapter 6, you remember, they were beginning to be pulled away from that major direction because the widows were not being looked after.  And so, they decided to set aside the “diakonoi,” the deacons.  Why?  “So that we can” - “give ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry” - the word is “diakonoi” there, in fact, the serving - “of the word.”  The commissioning was that they would study and serve it, like a meal.  And that’s what the Lord is telling Peter to do.  “Shepherd My sheep.”  “Feed My sheep.”  And He’s speaking collectively.

And then, you notice in verse 17, “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’”  You notice what it says next, “Peter was grieved” - why? - “because He said to him the third time”.   Why would that bring grief?  Because it was a remembrance of his three-fold denial, all of the agony.  “I’ve denied Him three times.  I’ve said I don’t know Him three times.”  And now the Lord’s repeated it three times.  What grief.  Perhaps there was grief even in the fact that Jesus now changes His word from “agapao” to “phileo.”  He says, “Simon, son of John, do you” - really have affection for - “Me?”  “Do you really have a heart filled with love and affection and closeness for Me?”  “And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’”  No evidence.  You know, Peter before would have given Him five points why he loved Him.  “Lord, number one, this.  Number two, this.  Number three, this.”  None of that.  Just simply, “Lord, You know” - “you know my heart.”  “You can see and I didn’t realize that before when I was boasting and knew that You could see my pride and selfishness.  But now, Lord, I know that You know but, even though You know, You can see affection and love for Me.”

Then the Lord gives a three-fold command.  He says here now to, “Tend” - not the lambs, but - “My sheep.”  You see, what the Lord has in mind here is the entire body.  You’ve got little lambs.  You’ve got the collective sheep.  And then you’ve got the need to teach all of the sheep.  And that’s the most difficult because, as you teach, do not only teach in such a way that the little ones can learn but, so that the older ones can learn.  And that is the challenge that Peter is given.

And then the Lord goes on, in verse 18, to prophesy or predict Peter’s martyrdom.  “Truly, truly, I say to you,” - Peter - “when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished;” - that is, you did anything you wanted, impulsively, and he was so impulsive - “but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,” - that’s a picture, in the original that talks about someone holding out his hands to be handcuffed or bound - “and someone else will gird you,” - a reference to the cross - “and bring you where you do not wish to go.”  “One day, Peter, as a result of feeding the sheep, you’re not going to be popular, you’re going to be unpopular.  You’re not going to be received, you’re going to be rejected.  You’re not going to have an easy life, you’re going to have a very difficult life.  And one day, Peter, they’re going to bind your hands and they’re going to take you to the cross.  Are you sure you love Me?”  Because, you remember, that’s what kept Peter from really following the Lord before.  And then the Lord said, “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when He had spoken this, He said to him,” - “All right, Peter,” emphatically, in the original, - “Follow Me!”  “Follow Me!”

Well, I’m glad the next few verses are in here because, you know, this is Peter again.  Good old Peter.  He’s changed but not all that much.  He’s still a little concerned about everybody else.  And so, “Peter, turning around,” - verse 20 - “saw the disciple” - John - “whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’”  And so, “Peter, therefore seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this’” - “guy?” - “what about this man?”  “You’ve just predicted for me that I’m going to be martyred.  I’m going to be crucified on a cross.  Well, here’s this guy and he’s following You, what about him?  What do You have in store for John?”  Because, you remember, John had asked to sit on the throne in the kingdom and Peter thought, “Well, maybe I’ll miss that.  Maybe I’ll die or be martyred and John will be able to usher in that kingdom and he’ll sit on the throne with Jesus.  And I couldn’t take that, Lord.  What about him?”  And Jesus’ classic response, in verse 22, “Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me!’”  “I don’t care what kind of response you have, Peter.  And I don’t care what kind of response John has.  It isn’t up to you.  Look, I’ve got My plans for him and I’ve got My plans for you.  Don’t worry about him.  You just follow Me.  You just feed the sheep.  You just tend the flock.”  We know that John lived longer than all the other disciples.  He finally, in exile, died, the island of Patmos.

You know, one of my heroes is Adoniram Judson, who went to the field as a missionary to Burma.  Perhaps you’ve read his story.  And he preached and he taught and he served and he worked.  He cracked a mission field out of solid stone.  And after seven years, guess how many converts to Christianity?  Zero.  You know one of the things that we get caught up in, ladies and gentlemen, as we serve the Lord in this church or in this mission field is, we’re always looking for results, man, response.  And Jesus said, “I don’t want you to even be concerned about the response that people will give John.  You just” - “Follow Me!”   Did Peter get the idea that he wasn’t supposed to be a busybody?  Absolutely.  Because, in I Timothy, he writes, that God does not want us to be “idle” or lazy or “busybodies”.

I have an announcement to make to you that if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have entered the ministry.  You’ve been commissioned by Jesus Christ to make disciples.  You’ve been commissioned to be a feeder.  And you’ve been uniquely gifted to fulfill that commission.  Now, what’s the solution?  To go looking under every stone for a new disciple?  “Let’s see, where’s one?  Where’s one?”  You know.  “I’m going to come to church looking for a disciple.”  No.  Is it to pull out the magnifying glass and say, “I’m going to trace down my spiritual gift.”  Absolutely not.  The point of Jesus was this, just - “Follow Me!”  “And as you follow Me, you will be able to disciple and you will be using your gift.”

You know, there are two common misunderstandings that I want you to jot down in your notes.  I’ve given you room for them.  About those and ministry.  Two common misunderstandings and it creates a lot of problems.  Number one, a misunderstanding toward those who serve more capably or effectively.  You know, we’ve got our eyes on John over here.  He serves more capably and more effectively and that tears me up.  What’s the point?  The point is that God is sovereign.  He has designed every one of your ministries down to the “t.”  He’s designed who would respond.  At the job, when you share Christ, He’s already determined who will respond.  Why are you serving Him?  Because somebody will respond or because you love Him?  There are a lot of preachers who preach because they love to preach.  There are a lot of teachers who teach because they love to teach.  They’d rather be up here than out there.  There are a lot of people who serve just because they want to serve and they want to be out front.  One of the tragedies is, we miss the uniqueness and the effectiveness of the ministry because we do not serve with the proper motivation.  That is, simply out of love for Christ.

There is a second misunderstanding and that is toward those who serve differently, not only more effectively but, differently.  Do you remember in Mark, chapter 9, verse 38, the disciples come back to Jesus and they say, “Lord, somebody over there is casting out a demon in Your name and he’s not following us, he’s not part of us.  Go over there and silence him.  He’s not part of our group.  He doesn’t look like us.  He doesn’t smell like us.  He doesn’t sound like us.  We can’t have that, Lord.  He’s not part of the twelve.”  And Jesus basically gives the same answer, “What’s that to you?  Let him alone.”  You see a classic example that, although there is one way to God, undoubtedly, Jesus said, “I am the way,” that’s a double positive in the original.  “I am the way,” - the ONLY way - “and the truth,” - the ONLY truth - “and the life” - the ONLY life.  And yet there are as many methods and men and ministries and women pointing people to THAT way as there are personalities in the body.  So don’t get all hung up because somebody is doing it differently than you.  He’s designed it.  When those who serve differently, you need to realize that God is not only sovereign, He’s flexible.  You know, how is it that God can move in the heart of a man to start a school because everybody needs to be educated?  And then God can move in the heart of a man like Charles Spurgeon, who will never go to school because God doesn’t want him to.  Can you figure that out?  If God would burden this guy to start a school, God would burden everybody to go to that school.  God doesn’t plan it that way.  He is so flexible in His design in bringing people into the kingdom and the disciples needed to learn that.  Because that church would grow and Peter would head it up and there would be so many different ministries going on in Jerusalem.  And Peter needed to learn the lesson, don’t worry about that.  “You follow Me!”

Let me give you two timeless truths, by way of application.  First of all, servants realize that God doesn’t use perfect people.  He uses dependent people.  You see, that was the whole purpose of this fishing expedition.  Jesus was telling them, “You can cast your net all day and all night long but now, without Me, you won’t catch a thing.  And now, you’re fishing for men, you can do it all day long and all night long in the power of YOUR flesh but, until you learn dependence on My word, you will be absolutely ineffective.  You see, He isn’t looking for perfect people.  Amen.  Isn’t that great?  Because now He can use us.  But, He is desiring dependent people.

Secondly, servants recognize, foremost, that love for Christ produces love for people.  Love for Christ will produce, in our hearts, love for people.

So the question is, if you are sitting on the sidelines and your uniform isn’t dirtied up or your haven’t experienced the second wind, it’s not, “Oh man, you’ve got to get involved in some kind of ministry.  Let’s put you in somewhere in here.  Let’s fit you in.  We’ve got something for you to do.”  That isn’t it.  The point is, how is your love relationship with Jesus Christ?  How do you develop that relationship?  The same way that I do with my daughter.  I spend time with her.  My wife, I spend time with her.  My kids, I talk with them, I listen to them.  That’s how you’ll develop it with Jesus Christ.  You talk to Him in prayer.  You listen to Him through His word.  You spend time with Him alone.  You’ll never be without a ministry.

Let me read to you, in closing, a poem written by an anonymous author.  “Forgive me, Lord, for I size up other people in terms of what they can do for me.  How they can further MY program, feed MY ego, satisfy MY needs, give ME strategic advantage.  I exploit people, Lord, ostensibly for Your sake but really for MY sake.  Lord, I turn to You only to get the inside track and obtain special favors.  I turn to You for direction for MY schemes, Your power for MY projects, Your sanction for MY ambitions, Your blank check for whatever I want.  Change ME, Lord.  Make me a person who asks of You and of others, how can I serve You?”  That’s changing from becoming a selfish person to a servant, from becoming a coward to a crusader by falling in love with the person of Jesus Christ.                                                                           



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Ambrose Padaychee says:
Good day. Do you have available the passage on Matthew 21:18ff, on the fig tree? [No - The only sermons in Matthew are from Matthew 5.]

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