May 2019   
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5-5-19 Sermon

John 21:1-19

It seems as if everything these days is on video-- someone’s cellphone, a surveillance, dashboard, or body cam. In many ways it’s a good thing. Things can documented. But this isn’t really a new thing. The technology allowing this to happen is new, because our minds replay the videos over and over again. ’s a tool satan has used since the fall of Adam and Eve. The evil one wants us to remember all the mistakes we’ve made, all the shortcomings and failures. For me, it is those things that I’ve done, or failed to do, as a stepfather, a husband, a son, a friend, a pastor. Those things I wish I could do differently.

But I can’t, and even if I could, I’d either fail the same way again or in a different way even worse. Satan files all the evidence of how I’ve failed as a Christian . . . replaying it, reminding me.

It was probably like that for the disciples as well. Jesus, raised from the dead, appeared to the 11. They saw Him and he really was raised from the dead. But the video kept playing in their minds. Peter’s denials – if only he could go back and redo.

For Thomas, it was his doubting. What kind of disciple doubts the resurrection?

Nathanael made the stupid remark: Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

James and John had the nerve to ask Jesus for places of honor at His right and left. I’m sure all the disciples had their own regrets and failures playing over and over.

So, Peter says: I am going fishing and the others were quick to say: we’ll go with you and that night they caught nothing. Failures as disciples, failures as fishermen.

But just as Jesus had met them fishing three years before, so He comes to them again. He provides for them again like another instant replay.


When Peter got to the shore, Jesus had a charcoal fire going. They say that the sense of smell is the greatest memory trigger – the smell of the fire reminded Peter of warming himself around a fire in the courtyard when he denied Jesus three times. And then Jesus feeds them - bread and fish--just as He had fed the 5000. It was all so familiar, yet everything had changed. They were still sinners. Their memories were alive and well. Jesus was still doing the things He had done before. He still loved them, wanted them. He still forgave them. Yet He had died. He’d risen from the dead! They didn’t know what to do, but Jesus did.

It was not their faithfulness, not their obedience, not their success, not their dedication that made the difference. It’s what Jesus did for them and would still do. He’d empower them, and use them.

That was true for Saul as well. Jesus spoke to Saul while he was persecuting more Christians. But Jesus let him know – when you’re persecuting them, you’re persecuting Me--for they are members of My body. Whatever you do to them you do to Me. still holds true today. Saul was struck blind, and couldn’t see or do anything for three days. He sat in darkness replaying all the evil he had done to Christians. Saul went from a strong leader to being weak and helpless.

Jesus had come to give Saul forgiveness of his sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and a new video to play in his mind--not of sins and failures, but of love and forgiveness.


And that’s the video He has for us as well. We still might replay those sinful events in our minds; all the more reason to come back to this place and hear and see new images. We come to learn that is not our faithfulness, obedience, or success, that makes the difference - but Jesus.

And that’s the image we have from Revelation. The cry goes out, Who is worthy, to open the scroll and break its seals? No one, in all of creation, is worthy. Not one. But then, Behold! The Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered . . . The slain Lamb is seen standing--not dead. Bloody? Yes. Pierced? Yes. But living. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

That’s the video satan doesn’t want any of us to see or hear. That’s why he wants to keep you from this place to prevent you from hearing words of forgiveness, hope, and new life. The only thought he wants in your mind is that you’re not worthy and truthfully we are not worthy. But worthy is the Lamb who is here for you; to absolve you, to cleanse you, and raise you up with Himself; That no matter what your past, in Christ you have a glorious future.


So while satan may keep replaying the video of your sins over and over in your mind, know this: that video’s been erased in heaven. Those sins no longer exist in Christ. They’ve been buried in the tomb.

So Peter’s denials? Forgiven.

Thomas’ doubts? Gone.

Saul’s persecution? Forgotten.

Your sins? Removed as far as the east is from the west.

Easter means we have a glorious future. Set free from past failures, of people who have let you down, or the revengeful thoughts you’ve had. It’s time to forgive and be set free. Time to hit delete and rejoice in the life you now have in Christ. That’s the joy of --the joy of our risen Savior!