A Day at the Beach, The End

February 9, 2014

And so it ends where 
it began.  It seems fitting that
the Jesus initiated Peter’s call on a beach, confirmed his call on a beach and
now is finalizing his call on the beach. 
And not just any beach, the same beach.

But before we start today’s message, a story.

It was the year after we had moved into the building
and I was having a conversation with A.J. Thomas who was then the assistant
pastor at Hillside Wesleyan. And we were talking about the growth we had seen
over the previous year since we had moved into the building.  And AJ made the comment, “It’s incredible,
all you did was move to the other side of the Bedford Hammonds Plains sign, you
just went to the other side.”  And being
a professional communicator I responded by saying “Wow, the other side.” 

And then I told AJ this story.  Two years previous when Franklin Graham came
to Halifax I had been asked to organize a pastor’s prayer time for Bedford
Sackville.  So every couple of weeks a
group of us gathered at the Pentecostal Church on Stokil Drive in
Sackville. 

Well this one occasion I arrived and it was just me
and the pastor, who told me he had another meeting to attend and asked me to
lock the doors when I left.  And then
there was just me.  Normally there would
have been four or five of us.  And then
another guy showed up and introduced himself as the Pastor of the Victory
Church in Fall River.  I had never met
the man before and haven’t seen him since. 
Just a one-time meeting, I can’t even remember his name. 

But as we chatted he told me that he had a Word from
The Lord for me. 

Now to be truthful, I am thinking “You’ve never met me
before and you have a word for The Lord for me.”   But being polite I said, Ok, go ahead. 

And he said “This morning I was having my quiet time
with God and was reading from John chapter 21 and when I got to the part where
Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side God told me that he wanted
me to come to this meeting and to give that message to a pastor that I would
meet here.  So I asked him, ‘how will I
know which pastor?’ to which he replied ‘Oh, you’ll know.’  and here we are.  So I am supposed to tell you, ‘Cast your net
on the other side’.”  And so I asked
“What is that supposed to mean?”  and he
said “I have no idea, I’m just doing what was told to do.”

And that was it, we had prayer and I’ve never seen him
again.  Now it would be really cool to
say that I immediately realized the significance of what he was saying, that I
focused my attention on this side of the sign and here we are today.  But seriously I didn’t have a clue.  That evening at supper I told Angela the
story, we bounced around some ideas, did it mean we should redefine the style
of Cornerstone? That didn’t seem right.  
Did it mean we should resign and go somewhere else?   That didn’t seem to be the answer
either.  And eventually I stopped
thinking about it until AJ mentioned about how we had simply moved to the other
side.  Wild!

And has nothing to do with today’s message, but it’s a
cool story. 

This is week five of our ‘A Day at the Beach’
series.  We have taken the past few weeks
to look at parts of the Jesus story that have happened in and around the Sea of
Galilee.

It was at the Sea of Galilee that Jesus first called
Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John.  It was at the Sea of Galilee that Jesus found
the guys fishing again and reaffirmed his call on their lives.  It was on the Sea of Galilee that Jesus
calmed the storm and walked on the water.

And here he meets with his closest friends once
again.  In the account that was read for
us earlier John wrote that Jesus met with seven of his remaining eleven
apostles on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. 

Now some of you might be looking in your bible and you
are saying “Oh no Pastor in my Bible it says it was the Sea of Tiberias.”

Simple reason, an old name and
a new name. Recognize this?  It’s Ayers
Rock, well actually it used to be called Ayers Rock now it’s called Uluru, well
actually it used to be called Uluru, then it was called Ayers Rock and now it’s
called Uluru again.  And if you were to
go to Australia you would hear some people call it Ayers Rock, and some would
call it Uluru and some people just refer to it as the “Red Centre”.  

Kind of like what used to be
Hammonds Plains became a part of Halifax County and then just a part of the
Halifax Regional Municipality, and now it’s just Halifax, but let’s not go
there.  To really confuse the issue the
name Gennesaret was used at another point in history to describe the same body
of water.    And it isn’t actually a sea
it’s just a big lake. 

It wasn’t all of the disciples
who were there but it was most of them; we are told that there were John 21:2
Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other
disciples.   If we
wanted to speculate on who the other two disciples were one good guess would be
Andrew, cause he was Peter’s brother and fishing partner and maybe Phillip
because he had been listed alongside of Andrew before.  And they were kind of hanging out, talking,
today if they were doing that in a church we’d say they were
“Fellowshipping”.  It seems like today
Christians get guilt feelings if they aren’t doing something churchy, so they
don’t just hang out and have fun they fellowship. 

And it was at that point that John 21:3 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said.

It Started When Peter Looked
Back 

So there it was, Jesus had
risen from the dead, appeared to the disciples, had commissioned them to his
service and given them a vital task but nothing was happening, for whatever
reason Christ didn’t have them doing anything and it was getting on Peter’s
nerves.  From everything we know about
Peter we’d have to say he was a type “A” personality.  I was in traffic with a friend of mine one
day and I mentioned that in relation to the traffic that I was a type “A”
personality.  So my friend asked what
other types there were and the response was that in the eyes of a type “A”
there were Type “A’s” and the people who are in the way.  Well that was definitely Peter, and if there
wasn’t something to do then he was going to make something to do

And so there they were, doing
nothing, watching the boats getting ready, the sails going up, the nets being
prepared and I can almost hear Peter say, “I don’t know about you, but I’m
getting tired of sitting around here twiddling my thumbs, I’m going
fishing.”  And it was just the spark they
needed.  “You’re right, count me in
Peter” “I’m coming to, what are we waiting for?”

Now I don’t know what it is
about fishing, have never been able to figure it out.  I came out of High School with fairly high
marks, I’d been accepted at Kings, could have stepped into management training
with Tip Top, instead I joined a rag tag collection of would be adventurers on
the Rali 2, a mid-water trawler based out of Paspebeac Quebec.  I mean we all had experience in selling
clothes, and advertising, running hotels and renting cars, managing
restaurants, driving dump truck, being policeman and digging graves.  We weren’t short on experience we were just
short on fishing experience. 

But fishing we went.  At the end of our first summer the boat went
to dry dock for some modifications, and we all went back to some semi
respectable professions.

But whenever you saw one of the
boys they had a gleam in their eyes and they would talk about sailing in the
spring.  I’d occasionally catch Dad
muttering, “Just sitting here a wishing, I could go a fishing.”  We were all making as good, if not better
money, we weren’t seasick, we were home, we weren’t cold and wet, and yet when
the call came in the spring we all gave up what we were doing to go a
fishing.  How come, I don’t know, maybe
the independence, or the sense of conquering nature, I really don’t know, but
there was some type of hold. And so the story continues

John 21:3 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out
in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

There are a couple of things
that strike me about this scripture.  The
first thing is that spiritual decision seldom affect only us.  Peter said “I’m going fishing.”  And the rest of them joined him. 

When you make the decision to
not go to church or to go deeper in your faith you will take others with you.

The second thing that struck me
was that it says They went out in their boat  The New King James version is a
little different because it says “They went out and immediately
got into their boat.”  There
hasn’t been any mention of them fishing now for a couple of years and the boat
was already to sail, whata you know about that.

Whenever we went back to go
fishing it took the ten of us 2-3 days to get the equipment ready to use, and
these guys go down jump in the boat and sail away.  To me, it tells me only one thing, this
wasn’t spontaneous.  He was no longer
just looking back,  Peter Went Back.

During the days while Peter was
waiting he must have been mending twine, fixing equipment, getting the boat
ready for the water. But he wasn’t just thinking about doing it, now he was
doing it.   I’m sure that he thought it
was harmless, he was just passing time, it was just giving him something to
do.  Billy Sunday was the
Billy Graham in the early years of the 1900s, and he made this statement, “When a
man, after starting to be a Christian looks back, it’s only a question of time
until he goes back.”  Kind of remind
you of what Jesus said in Luke 9:62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who
puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

The day that Peter dug out his
boat, he stated that he wasn’t happy with the present.  The day that Peter began getting his gear
ready, was the day that he showed his intentions that he planned on returning
to yesterday.  Whether he knew it or not,
it was only a matter of time until he sailed. 
And the day that Peter sailed he stepped back into yesterday, and stated
that he couldn’t or wouldn’t accept what today had to offer.

People do that today, maybe not
in the physical sense, but they do it in the emotional sense and a spiritual
sense.  Why I remember back in ’04, why
back then Rev. So and So was the Pastor here and we used to have hundreds of
people, things sure aren’t the way they used to be.  We don’t have that problem yet, but someday
the temptation will be there.

Yes the Holy Spirit moved
yesterday, and yes wonderful things happened yesterday, but this is now and we
need to stay focused on that.  In the
book of 1 John we read 1 John 1:7 But if we
walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  Not sit in the light or stand
in the light, or meditate on the light, but walk.  Movement, progression, going forward.  You ever hear “Still water runs deep”?  Not always, sometimes still water is just
plain stagnant, and so are immovable Christians.

Yesterday is gone, it’s done,
you can’t change even one aspect of it by replaying it over and over in your
mind, and it will not come back. As Lee Iacocca said “Yesterday
ended at midnight.”  I’m not
saying that we have to give up our memories; I’m just saying we ought not live
there.

The story continues, John 21:3-6 Simon Peter
said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out
in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on
the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows,
have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your
net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and
they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

And Then Peter Came Back 

They didn’t catch a thing, man,
as a former commercial fisherman let me try to put this as eloquent as
possible; There ain’t nothing more depressing than catching nothing.  Now a lot of things happen all of a sudden,
Jesus is standing on the shore looking out at them, nothing miraculous here,
the fisherman of that area often fished close to the shore and so Jesus would
have no problem hollering out to them. 

Why didn’t they recognize
him?  Maybe it wasn’t fully light yet,
or  maybe there was a mist in the air or
maybe they were just tired but regardless of the why they didn’t recognize him,
they didn’t.  And he hollers out to them,
“Let your net down on the other side”. 
You have to wonder, “Did he see the fish?”  It’s possible, there is nothing here to
indicate that it was a miracle, but then again maybe it was, maybe Christ
created these fish just for the disciples to catch.  It really isn’t all that important or that
relevant.

What is relevant is that he
provided for them, wheter through a natural means or a supernatural means the
end result was still the same.  At this
point I don’t know if it was catching all the fish and John remembered that it
happen before, maybe he looked at his friends and said, “Hey guys this is like
Déjà vu all over again.  This is just
like back in Luke chapter 5 verse 7.” And that made him realize that it was
Jesus.  Or maybe the fog lifted or the
dawn began to break through, whatever it was John turned to Peter and said
“It’s the Lord!”  Well that was all Peter
needed to hear, he grabbed his tunic, pulled it on and jumped overboard, and
swam the hundred yards to shore.

Now it may seem a little
strange to us that he put on his outer garment before he jumped over the side,
but it was a show of respect.  He had
probably been working in just a loincloth and that wasn’t enough to wear when
you approach a teacher.  This was so like
Peter, good old impetuous Peter, leaving the other six to do all the work.  But when Jesus commanded him to bring some
fish he rushed down to the beach to drag the net in all by himself.

Now if we were to have kept
reading in the story we would have discovered , John 21:11 So Simon
Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish,
and yet the net hadn’t torn. If you’ve ever read this passage did you
ever wonder about the significance of the 153 fish?  No, well others have. 

Through the centuries there
have been all kinds of theories about why that specific number of fish was
mentioned, but it doesn’t matter. 

You see we can get so caught up
in really trivial stuff and miss the fact that we need to be obedient to
Christ, today.  When Peter saw Jesus he
was willing to come back to the present and to leave the past behind him.  We need to recognize that Jesus is here
today, February 9, 2014.  Not yesterday,
or last month or last year but here today. 
And today is when he wants you to serve him.

And here comes the question,
everyone has finished their breakfast and Jesus looked at Peter and this is
what he said, John 21:15 After breakfast Jesus asked
Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

I’ve talked about this before,
do you know who I think Jesus meant when he said “Do you love me more than
these?”    Nobody, I don’t think he
was talking about a “who” I think he was talking about a what.  He wasn’t asking Peter if he loved him more
than he loved John or Andrew, that’s a little juvenile.  And I don’t think he was asking Peter if he
loved him more than the other guys loved him. 

I think that what Jesus was
saying to Peter was, “Once I called you from a scene very much like this, way
back in Mark chapter 1 and then again in Luke chapter 5 verse 3 and you
followed me.  But here you are back in
your old life.  So Peter are you going to
abandon me?  Are you leaving the
adventure, do the old ties still tug at your heart?  Peter, why are you here?  Do you want to stay fishing, or is your love
for me greater than your love for your boat, and your net, and your
independence?  Is your love for me
greater than these, greater than yesterday, greater then all of these things
that represent your past, greater than your boat and all your gear, “Simon son of
John, do you love me more than these?” And Peter looked at Jesus and
said “Yes, Lord, you know I do!” and Jesus said “Peter is that
your final answer?”  You say no he
didn’t, oh yes he did, maybe not in those words, but he asked Peter the
question 2 more times.

Peter had denied Jesus three
times and here Jesus is allowing him the chance to confess his love three
times.  Aren’t you glad we serve a God of
the second chance?

Jesus is asking you the very
same question today “Will you serve me today?” 
Not “Did you serve me yesterday?” or “Will you serve me tomorrow?”  But “Will you serve me today?”  

Remember we learn from
yesterday and we can dream for tomorrow but we need to live for today.  Isaiah 43:19 For I am
about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will
make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry
wasteland.