The Breakfast

Series: Preacher: Date: May 29, 2011 Scripture Reference: John 21:1-19

Whenever we go to Wheaton to either mover Becca into the dorm for another year of college or to move her out at the end of the year and bring her home—or when we’ve gone to Wheaton in mid-year for a visit—WHENEVER WE GO—Sue and I always make plans to have breakfast at this restaurant—the EGG’LECTIC CAFÉ. It’s in beautiful downtown Wheaton and they have the best breakfast foods I’ve ever tasted—and I base that statement on decades of ministerial breakfast meetings—so I know what I’m talking about.

For example: at the Egg’lectic they have pancakes and waffles of any possible fruit or nut variety. They can also sculpt the perfect omelettes from anything you want put in them. Why, even their oatmeal is prepared perfectly and it comes with so much fresh fruit that you feel like you’re eating hot cobbler. On top of all this their OJ is always fresh and their coffee is excellent. The last time we were there I ate healthy and ordered a vegetable omelette made with egg-beaters that was amazing. It was so good—it didn’t even taste healthy! My mouth still waters to think of it. I also had a short stack of banana nut pancakes on the side.

But for us Adamses the thing that makes EGG’LECTIC so wonderful is not the food. It’s the MEMORIES we’ve made there—hearing Becca’s stories about a particular semester…meeting her friends and professors…talking with the parents of other “Wheaties.” I mean, we’ve had some truly memorable BREAKFASTS in that little café.

I mention this because today we come to the end of our study of John’s Gospel—and in this final chapter he tells us of a particularly memorable breakfast—one prepared by Jesus Himself. But—at this meal Peter experienced much more than good food. He had a special conversation with Jesus in which Peter learned the steps he had to take to leave his most recent failure behind and continue on his journey to become more like our Master. In our study of this text I want us to be sure and take note of these steps—because like Peter we all fail. We all foul-up. And if we learn to respond correctly, as Peter did here, God can and will work in even our mistakes for our good. That’s one of the wonderful things about our faith. Our Lord specializes in second chances.

Malcolm Muggeridge put it this way: “Christianity, from Golgotha onwards, has been the sanctification of failure.”

Our study of John’s Gospel has shown that Peter’s entire life provides us with a great example of this principle because that great “rock” in the early church—Cephas—or Peter—over and over again Peter rose from the rock heap of failure. His life is proof of the fact that God’s strength is indeed made perfect in our weakness. And of course it is. As Paul put it in 2nd Corinthians 4:7, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” R. Kent Hughes comments on this text from Corinthians and says, “It is in the breaking of these clay vessels, our failures, that the riches of God are exposed for all to see. It is primarily our failures that create in us a poverty of spirit and thus make us fit receptacles of the blessings of the kingdom of God.”

Let me just ask for a show of hands. How many of you have ever failed? How many of you can remember an embarrassing foul-up or two in your own life?  Well, I don’t have to look far to remember one of my own. Last Sunday in my message from Acts 16 we studied the time God used Paul to free a slave girl from demon possession. I also said she became a Christian and the second member of the church in Philippi. But later I was asked where that fact was in the text. I looked and it’s not there so I looked back through my notes and found out it was in three of the commentaries I had studied…but not in the actual text. The scholars who wrote those commentaries believe she became a Christian. One said the text infers it—another says it’s tradition—but it’s not actually in the Bible. That’s a big blooper in my book. I should have qualified my statement—but I guess in my haste to finish the sermon I missed it. So—please forgive me for that recent foul-up. I promise to try and be more thorough in the future!

The truth is we all do things like this. All of us fail in ways that embarrass us—and that is why the message of the Gospel is so precious—because it tells us that God can redeem our failures. The Bible tells us that our Heavenly Father wants to help us learn from our mistakes. He wants to empower us to start over.

In his book, Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg tells a true story about a promising junior executive at IBM who was involved in a risky venture for the company and ended up losing ten million dollars in the gamble. He was called into the office of Tom Watson, Sr. The founder and leader of IBM for 40 years, a business legend. The junior exec, overwhelmed with guilt and fear, blurted out,“I guess you’ve called me in for my resignation. Here it is. I resign.” Warren replied, “You must be joking. I just invested ten million dollars educating you; I can’t afford your resignation.” Well, as Ortberg points out in his book, because of Peter’s FREQUENT foul-ups, Peter might have had several conversations like that with Jesus.

For example, do you remember that time on the Sea of Galilee, when in the midst of a storm Jesus came walking on the water toward the boat His disciples were in and Peter got out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus? Peter took His eyes off the Lord and was overwhelmed by fear and doubt and would have drowned if Jesus had not reached out to help him. When they got in the boat we could imagine Peter saying, “You’re right about me, Jesus. I’m big on dramatic gestures but low on faith and trust. I’m full of questions and fears. It doesn’t take much of a storm to stop me. Here’s my resignation.” Jesus would respond, “You must be joking Peter. I’ve just invested a MIRACLE in you. I can’t afford your resignation.”

Or what about the time up at Caesarea Philippi when Peter made his famous confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God? Remember? Jesus said, “Peter, this was not revealed to you by man but by My Father in Heaven. God told you this Peter!” Not long after that Jesus told His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to the cross. And when He did this, Peter pulled Him aside and began to rebuke Him—in essence saying: “Jesus, don’t talk like that!” Our Lord responded by saying that Peter was speaking for Satan—that with his words he was working for the enemy. I can imagine Peter hanging his head and saying, “You’re right about me Jesus. I speak impulsively. I’m always putting my foot in my mouth. Here’s my resignation.” And then Jesus says, “You must be joking. I’ve just invested a REVELATION in you Peter. I can’t afford your resignation.”

But I think the best example was the one we studied recently…when, at the great crisis moment of Jesus’ life, Peter had vowed, “I’ll follow You no matter how much it costs, Jesus—no matter what everybody else does, You can count on me.” But remember? Peter couldn’t keep that pledge for even a few hours and ended up denying our Lord three times before the night was over. Luke tells us in his gospel that after Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to Peter privately (Luke 24:34) and when He did I can imagine Peter saying to Him, “You were right about me all along, Jesus. I failed You most completely at Your point of greatest need. I denied and abandoned you. Here’s my resignation.” And Jesus would have said, “You must be joking Peter. I’ve invested a RESURRECTION in you. I can’t afford your resignation.”

Well, this brings us to our text for today—the last sermon in our year-long study of John’s Gospel—a passage of Scripture that I think highlights Jesus’ patience in working with Peter…His gracious forgiveness and guidance given once again to help Peter get up from a time of terrible failure and get back on the road toward spiritual maturity. As I said, I want us to pay close attention to our study because all of us are like Peter. We all experience failings and foul-ups…and Peter’s experience can show us what we need to do to start over. Take your Bibles and turn to John 21. Let’s read verses 1-25.

1 – Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way:

2 – Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.

3 – “I’m going out to 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.

4- Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 – He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.

6 – He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 – Then 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.

8 – The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

9 – When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 – Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

11 – Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

12 – Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

13 – Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

14 – This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

15 – When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love You.” Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

16 – Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of My sheep.”

17 – The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, 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.

18 – I tell you the truth, 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.”

19 – Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, “Follow Me!”

20 – Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray You?”)

21 – When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 – Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.”

23 – Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 – This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 – Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Okay—before we go any further—let’s back up so we can better understand all that went on that day when Jesus had breakfast with His disciples. John has already told us that after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples as a group twice. And Matthew’s gospel account says that the second time Jesus met with them, He told them to go to Galilee and wait there for Him there. (Matthew 28:10) Well, they obeyed—they made the journey north from Jerusalem and began to wait for Jesus to appear.

Now—these days right after the resurrection must have been a confusing time for the disciples. They were excited—awed—that Jesus was alive—but they still felt kind of like they were in limbo. I mean, Jesus had appeared to them but only briefly and then He would disappear. They never knew exactly when they might see Him next. He came and went without much explanation or announcement. I think this must have left the disciples with an uncertain and perplexed feeling. Plus—they were restless because nothing seemed settled. They didn’t understand what was supposed to happen next. Everything was still up in the air for them that day in Galilee.

As I said, Jesus had told them WHERE to meet Him—but not WHEN—so they waited and waited hours—probably even days—with no sign of our Lord. And I think Jesus tarried like this to teach His disciples that they must learn patience. After all, if they were going to be used to further His kingdom, they would have to learn to wait on His timing and trust His eternal perspective. We must learn this discipline as well, because when we grow impatient with waiting and take matters in our own hands, we always foul up. Many times we loose ground in our efforts to grow spiritually because we get impatient. Who is it that said, “Waiting is the hardest work of faith?” It IS hard—but it is worth it because there is a special blessing for those who trust God’s timing. As Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no ear has heard, no eye has seen any god beside You Who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”

Well, impatient Peter had not yet learned this lesson so he said to the others, “I can’t sit around any longer. I’ve got to do something. Let’s go fishing.” So, they got a boat and spent the night trying to catch fish on the Sea of Galilee—which is the way professionals like Peter and John and James did it back then. They would go out at night and use torches to attract the fish and then snare them in their nets.

Now—I should point out that they probably weren’t just killing time. I think they were also hoping to make some pocket money—something they would have been short on since Judas had absconded with the group’s treasury. In any case, they labored all night—but to no avail. I imagine they tried every trick in the book on every known fishing hole in that huge lake and were still left exhausted and exasperated because nothing worked. In my mind’s eye other boats that were out that night were catching fish right and left but to Peter and the others it seemed as if the fish avoided THEIR boat on purpose. In fact, I think that is exactly what was happening. The fish didn’t come near the disciples’ boat because they had been ordered not to. Perhaps Jesus commanded them to stay away to teach the disciples another lesson—to give them an experience to look back on and be reminded that, as He said in John 15:5, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” The late Ray Stedman said, “That night of failure was not without it’s lessons and benefits. We can do worse than fail—we can succeed and be proud of OUR success. We can succeed and forget the Hand Whose it is to give or withhold, to kill or to make alive.” Stedman is right. Failure can teach us how much we need God. It can remind us that any success we have is because of Him—that He is the source of “…every good and perfect gift.” (James 1:17) You see if we are not careful we become too proud of our accomplishments—we praise ourselves for our successes. As someone once wisely said, “The problem with SELF-made men is they tend to worship their creator.” So maybe the disciples needed a night of fruitless fishing to remind them once again of their need for Jesus!

About 6:00AM…they gave up and began heading back in. When they were about 100 yards off shore they heard a Voice calling out to them through the early morning mist. It was a Voice they had heard before but didn’t quite recognize at first and it said, Friends, haven’t you caught anything?” Now—be sure and note that the question had a little STING to it. I mean, no fisherman worth his bait wants to be reminded of failure—especially one that had lasted all night.

But an amazing thing happened. They were honest in their reply. A group of fishermen actually admitted they hadn’t caught anything! They didn’t even comment on the one that got away! So the Voice replied, “Well, try again. Put your net down on the right side of the boat. Don’t quit yet. Give it one more try.” And they did and when they pulled the net in, it was FULL of fish—so full in fact that they couldn’t lift it up into the boat. You see, miraculously, the same fish who had been ordered to stay away were now ordered to come. I imagine every fish in the lake clamored to get in the disciples’ nets that morning! And they did so because unlike men, fish ALWAYS obey their Creator!

Well, at this point John, who tended to UNDERSTAND more quickly than Peter, recognized the Speaker and said, “It is the Lord!” and Peter, who tended to ACT more quickly than John, wrapped his robe around himself, leapt off the boat performing a first century cannonball, and swam ashore. Does that seem backward to you? PUT CLOTHES ON…THEN JUMP IN THE WATER? Well, it wasn’t really, because the Jews regarded a greeting as a religious act that could be done only when one was clothed. So even in his impulsive act, Peter had enough of his wits about him to remember to prepare himself to meet the Lord. And, I can understand Peter’s eagerness because something like this had happened three years earlier. Remember? After another night of fishing with nothing to show for it, Jesus had asked them to row out a little deeper in the water. They did and caught so much fish that their boats began to sink. That first fishing miracle was what led to Peter’s call to follow Jesus and fish for men. So perhaps with this memory in his mind Peter—who wasn’t patient enough to wait on the heavily laden boat to take him to shore—jumped in and swam.

Well, when they all caught up with Peter they discovered that Jesus had already started making a breakfast of grilled fish and flatbread. He asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught to augment the meal and then encouraged them to all dig in—but no one wanted to go first. They all just stood there. To me, the way John words it makes it seem as if the disciples were hesitant to approach Jesus—and I can understand how they might have felt…because, as I said earlier, things had changed. I mean, they were eager to see Jesus again but they were also awed by Him.

He was the same—but He was also different. They loved Him, but could no longer be familiar with Him—not like the old days. You see, before they had always been more aware of His HUMANITY than His DEITY. Now they were more conscious of His DEITY than His HUMANITY. So they were awkward and hesitant at first. Verse 13 says that to break the ice Jesus took the bread and the fish and put it in their hands and urged them to eat—which they did.

They must have been Baptist disciples because the more they ate the more they talked. And soon it was just like old times. It was a wonderful morning of fellowship with Jesus that they never forgot.

After the meal, the other disciples must have gone back to the boat to clean and salt the rest of their catch…and stow away their gear…which gave Jesus an opportunity to talk to Peter alone. In the conversation that ensued we see three steps that Peter had to take to start again—three things he had to do to move on from his recent failure. As I inferred earlier, they are the same steps God guides us through so that we can receive the 2nd chances that He so graciously offers.

(1) The first step involves CONFESSION—specifically a confession of LOVE.

Look at the text and you’ll see that Jesus did not reprove Peter or condemn him for his failure in the garden the night of His arrest. Jesus didn’t ask, “Peter, are you sorry for what you have done? Do you promise never to fail Me again? Will you try harder next time?” No—instead three times He probed Peter’s heart to discover the DEPTH of his love.

I also want to point out that Jesus didn’t even refer to Peter by the nickname He had given him that day in the hills of Caesarea Philippi. He simply called him, “Simon, son of John.” And I think Jesus did this as if to say, “I won’t presume that you want the old relationship back. I won’t presume you still want to wear the name I gave you. I won’t presume on your LOVE for me Simon. So, just tell Me—do you love me?”

Now—why would Jesus START here? I mean, why would it be so important for Peter to confess his love FIRST in order for him to start over? The reason is simple. You see, sin is not just breaking the COMMANDMENTS of God. It is breaking the HEART of God. Sin, by its very nature is not only against God’s LAW but against God’s LOVE. Think about it. When a man cheats on his wife, what is the first thing she wonders? “Doesn’t my husband LOVE me anymore? If he LOVES me—why would he do this?” When our kids disobey us—disrespect us—it breaks our hearts and we wonder, “How could they do that and still LOVE me?”

This is the way it is with our Heavenly Father, for as Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” And it had always been that way. God had always made it clear that our love for Him must be our top priority. In the Shema of ancient Israel He had said, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the LORD is one! LOVE the LORD your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength!” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

So, if we are to recover and start over after our failures, there must be more than an acknowledgment of sin. There must also be an acknowledgment of our LOVE for God. You see, the truth is if we love our Lord we won’t betray Him. We won’t disobey Him—our love will be the motivation for our obedience. This is what Augustine was getting at when he said, “Love God and do whatever you want.” He knew that if we really love God—if He is truly first in our lives—we will only do things that please Him. It is only when our love of self rises to the top that we get into trouble.

Another thing—if we truly love someone we will care about the things they do. This is why Jesus said, “Do you love Me? Then care for My sheep.” You see, the thing that Jesus cares most about is PEOPLE—and this was seen so clearly during His earthly ministry. Even though He was Holy God in the flesh—He showed a passion for all people—even those who failed—fouled up most in life—tax collectors, prostitutes, repentant thieves. Jesus was repeatedly moved with compassion for humans like you and me—even to tears—because Jesus loves people. When He died on the cross He wasn’t dying for a political cause or for some stubborn personal agenda. No—He was willingly dying for people…failures like you and me. As Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners—while we continued to rebel and foul up—Christ died for us.” With Christ, in a very real sense it is, “Love Me—Love My people.” If we want to express our love for Jesus—it will be by investing our time in loving others. So the first step back from failure is always a confession of LOVE for God.

(2) And then, Peter’s experience here teaches us is that in order for us to start our second step must be one of honest CONTRITION.

You see, while a love for Christ is essential, it is not sufficient. There must also be a deep sorrow over our sin in order for us to even WANT to start over. King David learned this lesson through his own sinful failures. In Psalm 51 he prayed, “For You do not desire sacrifice or I would give it. You do not desire burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God You will not despise.” Let me put it this way, when we sin, the road back to fellowship and service is always drenched with tears. Only those who truly grieve over their sins will me motivated to leave their sins and return to God. In fact, I think this is why Jesus set “the breakfast table” the way He did that morning—to help Peter re-live what he had done so he could realize the seriousness of his actions. For example, I don’t think it was an accident that Jesus cooked fish on a CHARCOAL FIRE. No…I think He did so to remind Peter of that other CHARCOAL FIRE—the one he had sat around a few days earlier when he claimed not to know Jesus. This is also the reason Jesus asked Peter THREE TIMES if he loved Him—as a reminder of the fact that he had denied Jesus three times.

Remember our study of that text a few weeks back? Prior to His arrest Peter had frequently boasted that his devotion to Jesus—his LOVE for our Lord—was greater than that of the others.

For example in Matthew 26:33 Peter had said, “If everyone else falls away on account of You, I never will…even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You, Jesus!” But a few short hours later when push came to shove Peter denied his Lord not once…not twice…but three times. Do you remember his words that horrible night of personal failure? “I do not know the Man…I do not know what you are talking about…I am not His disciple!” At the moment of his third denial Jesus was led out and he made eye contact with Peter right as the rooster crowed.

Well, Peter got the message Jesus was sending his way over breakfast that morning. Verse 17 says that he was grieved because Jesus asked him the third time. He was grieved because he realized anew exactly what he had done that horrible night. He felt pain for his sin—his heart was indeed broken and contrite. He knew this was his biggest foul-up ever! I imagine he thought, “Some ‘rock’ I turned out to be! I’ve acted more like shifting grains of sand!” Well—Jesus did all this to help Peter on the road to a new start because there can be no spiritual recovery without a sense of sorrow over sin.

(3) So, for us to start over, there must be a CONFESSION of love. There must be a deep CONTRITION over our actions…and then the third step is COMMITMENT.

We mut decide to try again to live for Jesus—no matter what it COSTS us to do so. After Peter’s confession of love, Jesus told him that a day would come when Peter would stretch forth his hands (on a cross) and another would gird (fasten) him, and would carry him where he didn’t want to go (to the place of execution). Peter would be crucified because of His COMMITMENT to Jesus. Jesus told Peter this—before He used the same words He had used three years earlier, “Follow Me.”

In other words, Jesus was saying, “Peter, regardless of your past failures, I am still calling you to follow Me. I am inviting you to serve Me but it will be COSTLY. If you accept, you will indeed fulfill your pledge to die for Me.” And—Peter accepted Jesus’ 2nd chance. He bravely renewed his commitment. In fact, after that breakfast he was a changed man. Peter became strong, powerful, and authoritative. He preached at Pentecost so boldly that 3,000 people put their faith in Jesus. Peter became one of the key leaders of the early church. He took seriously his new COMMITMENT to care for Jesus’ sheep. The disciple who FAILED became the disciple who COULD BE COUNTED ON because he put his faith in the Lord of the second chance—God Who specializes in redeeming our failures.

I told you a few months ago about a book that has become one of my favorites. It’s UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand. Time magazine rated it as the best book written in 2010. It’s the true story of a man who like Peter was very familiar with failure. I’m speaking of Louis Zaperini. Louie had a rough childhood—he was always getting into trouble—always running from the law. And he when he got older his running ability earned him a place on the 1936 U.S. Olympics team. He competed in Berlin under the eyes of Adolph Hitler himself. Louie was training to run again in 1940 but WWII broke out and he joined the army air corps…and became a bombardier on a B-24.

His plane went down in the Pacific and after surviving on a raft for 52 days—which I believe is the record—he and a friend were captured by the Japanese. In captivity Louis was horribly mistreated—especially by one very evil, sadistic guard. This guard spent years beating Louis. For some reason he singled Louis out for his cruelty. Well, eventually the war ended and Louis was freed—but in many ways he was still a captive. He constantly re-lived the nightmare of his captivity. He began to drink heavily. He suffered repeated business failures. One night he dreamed he was sitting on top of that cruel guard strangling him with his bare hands and woke up to realize he was actually strangling his pregnant wife. All this of course took a toll on their marriage. They were on the brink of divorce until she went to a Billy Graham crusade and became a Christ-follower. She urged Louie to go with her. He reluctantly did with the understanding that he would leave the minute Graham said, “every head bowed and every eye closed.” Well…when Graham got to that point Louis couldn’t keep that pledge. He had heard the gospel and knew that he needed the forgiveness and restoration—the new start—that Jesus alone makes possible. So instead of leaving the stadium, he walked forward and gave his heart and life to Jesus. He never had another flashback….not one. He slept like a baby for the rest of his life. He gave up alcohol and said Jesus took away his desire to drink. He became a model husband and father. The anger that his nightmare ordeal had given him was replaced with a deep peace—an abiding joy. He forgave his captors—even the cruel guard. He and his wife started a camp for problem boys in which he shared with them what Jesus had done for him. He was a repeat speaker at Billy Graham crusades…sharing his testimony with thousands. God healed his war-ravaged body and he began to run again. He even carried the Olympic torch in the 1984 Olympic games. I believe he is 94 and still going strong. It’s almost as if God has repaid him for the years the locust had eaten. (Joel 2:25) I love this story—and I am so thankful for Ed and Betty Summers sharing it with me—and I love it because it is yet another testimony of the fact that Jesus specializes in redeeming failures. This story and Peter’s story and my own experience shows that Jesus CAN help us to start over. We can get up from our past failures and go on to become all God wants us to be.

This morning, do you need to start over? Maybe you see the need to be a better parent—or spouse—a better witness. Perhaps you have a yearning to be a more consistent Christ-follower. With Jesus you can. If you let Him, He will forgive you and empower you to begin again.

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