Great Expectations!
Sermon Summary
This message, written by Dr. Reggie Ogea focuses on Simon Peter and his restoration to leadership after his denial of Jesus three times. This story showcases our Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and at the same time illustrates our Lord’s expectation that we obey Him, love Him and follow Him. When we accept God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and at the same time obey, love and follow Him, we experience the great rewards God has in store for His children.

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Peter was struggling with his epic failure and the fact that he had been so sure he would never deny the Lord. Have you ever struggled getting beyond a past failure? Maybe it was when you were a child, a teenager, or as an adult. How did you make it through?

2. Jesus wanted Peter to know He still loved him and that God still had great plans for his life. Jesus confronted Peter three times with questions about his love for Jesus. Why do you think it was important for Jesus to do this three times?
John 21:15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,”  he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Feed My lambs,”  He told Him.  
16) A second time He asked Him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.
 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  He said, “Lord, You know everything!  You know that I love You.”  “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

3. The Lord will never contradict His Word or His principles when He ask us to obey Him. In other words, He’s not going to ask you to something wrong or immoral! It may not make rational sense to us, but we must learn to trust Him. The disciples had caught nothing and they were professional fishermen who had fished all night. But they obeyed Jesus and caught a net full of fish. Do you have an example of obeying the Lord even when it didn’t make since from a human or worldly standpoint, and yet, when you obeyed God blessed your obedience?
John 21:5  “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”  “No,” they answered.  
 “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,”  He told them “And you’ll find some.”  So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish.

4. Jesus doesn’t just want us to obey Him, but to love Him and to follow Him. When we do we will experience great rewards. Is the reward that we won’t face difficult times or is the reward found even in the midst of difficulty? What are some of the rewards we discover when we obey, love and follow Jesus in our daily lives?
Psalm 28:6 Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.




Full Sermon Notes
I’m honored to be with you today.  Northshore church holds a special place in my heart, literally before your beginning and certainly during the duration of your existence as a healthy church.  For our time together, I draw your attention to  John 21 as we consider Great Expectations.  Actually, before we get to John 21, let’s begin reading with chapter 20, verses 30-31.
It would appear that John proposed to end his Gospel with chapter 20, so that chapter 21 reads like a Postscript – a P.S.  This P.S. focused on Simon Peter.  Why was John compelled to conclude His Gospel with the focus on Simon Peter?  I’m convinced that there are three Compelling Motivations for John 21.
Peter’s Restoration
Peter’s Leadership
Failure is not Final


John 20:30)  Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.  
31)  But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
21:1)  After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.  He revealed Himself in this way:  
2)  Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”) Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together.  
3)  “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them.  “We’re coming with you,” they told him.  They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4)  When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore.  However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus.  
5)  “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”  “No,” they answered.  
6)  “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,”  He told them “And you’ll find some.”  So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish.
7)  Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  When Simon Peter heard that is was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea.  
8)  But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish.
9)  When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.  
10)  “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,”  Jesus told them.  
11)  So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish – 153 of them.  Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
12) ”Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them.  None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” because they knew it was the Lord.  
13)  Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them.  He did the same with the fish.  
14)  This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.
15) When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,”  he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Feed My lambs,”  He told Him.  
16) A second time He asked Him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”  “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.
17)  He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  He said, “Lord, You know everything!  You know that I love You.”  “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.  
18)  “I assure you:  When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted.  But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.”  
19)  He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God.  After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”  20)  So Peter turned around and saw the disciple  Jesus loved following them.  That disciple was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to  betray you?”
21)  When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord – what about him?”  
22)  “If I want him to remain until I come,”  Jesus answered, “what is that to you?  As for you, follow Me”  
23)  So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die.  Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, 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)  And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.


One obvious motivation involved Peter’s Restoration as an authentic follower of Jesus.  
Peter’s Restoration
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.  Matthew affirmed that when Peter realized what he had done, “he wept bitterly.”   None of the accounts of the trial, the beatings, the crucifixion, and the burial of Jesus indicate Peter’s presence.  He was either absent or withdrawn – probably from shame and disgrace, but most certainly he regarded himself a failure.  He’d done the one thing he thought he would never do.  It’s only after the resurrection that Peter surfaced once again, and he still was not fully convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead.  So, perhaps John wrote chapter 21 to restore Peter as a true Disciple.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone here today needs to experience restoration.  Like Peter, you’ve done something you thought you’d never do. Like Peter, you’ve doubted that Jesus is real and risen.  And like Peter, you desperately need to be restored as a true follower of Jesus Christ.  I hope you will experience that restoration.

Another reason for John 21 involved establishing Peter’s Leadership in the New Testament church.
Peter’s Leadership
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are a bridge to the birth of Christian church, articulated narratively in the Book of Acts and specifically in the Epistles of Paul.  The Book of Acts established Peter as one of the prominent leaders of the early church.  Peter would later write two letters which appear in the New Testament as 1 and 2 Peter.  Without John 21, we would not know the background of Peter’s reconciliation with the Lord and his potential for apostolic leadership.  Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if this audience contained men and women, young and old, who are not serving God and His church to their maximum potential.  Would today be the day that you decide and determine to stand up and step up, and vow to serve God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Perhaps the most compelling motivation for John 21 involved the encouragement that Failure is not Final.  
Failure is not Final
ALL OF US have at times felt like failures.  We’ve messed up as profoundly as did Peter and wondered if we could ever be restored to a right relationship with the Lord.  We need to be encouraged, as did Peter, that FAILURE IS NOT FINAL!   Success is often failure turned inside out!  Our past failures can be the stepping stones to future successes.

John 21 is composed of various post-resurrection appearances by Jesus not only to Peter, but to all of the disciples, in order to encourage them to go forward without Him.  Jesus was leaving them, but not without expectations – great expectations.  What Jesus expected of His disciples He also expects of us.  

The Obedience Expectation.  Jesus expects us to obey Him.  (John 21:1-14)
Obeying the Lord + Doing what the Lord Says.
The Lord speaks through His Word, His Spirit, and His Church.

We are not surprised to find these disciples fishing – seven of the twelve were fishermen.  John reported that they had fished all night long and caught nothing.  Sounds like one of my fishing trips.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore in His resurrected body.  The disciples did not realize it was Jesus.  “Men, you don’t have any fish, do you?”  “No,” they answered.  “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you’ll find some.”   “So they did,” and caught a net full of large fish – 153 to be exact!

A similar event occurred in the Gospel of Luke chapter 5.  On that occasion, Jesus instructed them to move out into deeper water and cast their nets.  Peter answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing.  But at Your word, I will let down the nets.”    (Luke 5:5)

Instinctively, Peter knew that Obeying the Lord  = Doing what the Lord Says.  These disciples learned a life lesson that day – when they fished their way, they caught nothing.  When they listened to the Lord and obeyed the Lord, they didn’t just catch a few fish, but they caught so many large fish that they could not even haul the net to the shore.  They learned that the difference between success and failure was the width of the boat!  With all the moaning and groaning about our lack of evangelistic harvest, could it be that we (the Christians) have stopped obeying the LORD – we’ve stopped doing what he says when it comes to reaching people?  With all of the despair and despondency concerning the moral and ethical decay of American society, could it be that we (the devoted followers of Jesus) have withdrawn into our churches instead of holding high a Christian worldview?  How can we expect the world to be any different out there if we are not going to set a standard of biblical conviction in here?

If obeying the Lord is doing what the Lord says, how does He speak to us?  Sometimes I’ve been asked if I’ve heard God’s voice.  I agree with Adrian Rogers -- “No, it was louder than that.”  I doubt that that any of us audibly hear the voice of God.  In the Old Testament, God did speak.  He spoke to Moses from within a burning bush.  He spoke to Elijah in a soft whisper.  God spoke to the prophets so they could relate His message to the Israelites.  God even spoke through Balaam’s donkey!  

But the New Testament reveals a different approach to how the Lord speaks.  The Lord speaks to us through His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His Church.  John has already written in His Gospel about God’s Word being the word of truth and the Holy Spirit being the spirit of truth.   Both the Word (the Scriptures) and the Holy Spirit function as our teacher and our guide.  In John 14:23, Jesus affirmed, “If anyone loves me, He will keep My word.  The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words.  The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.”  John wrote in 1 John 2:3, “This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.”    We’ve got a real problem in 21st century Christianity because in many situations we’ve allowed the opinions and convictions of the majority or the media to determine our actions rather than allowing God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to speak truth into our mindset and our lifestyles.   Our convictions not begin with majority opinion or personal experience and then filter them through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.  NO!   We must always begin with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit as our standard of truth and then shape our convictions and our experiences on the foundation of that truth.  God is not interested in our opinions or our experiences – he’s interested in our obedience!

Alongside of Word and Spirit is the collective wisdom of the church.  The New Testament pattern in the Book of Acts established the church meeting together to make decisions, especially related to individuals.  The Lord spoke to the gathered church in the book of Acts about dealing with Ananias and Sapphira, accepting Saul of Tarsus as an authentic believer, selecting and sending the first missionaries, receiving Gentiles as genuine converts, validating Peter’s release from prison, supporting Paul’s three missionary journeys.  The clear pattern for how God speaks today is through a combination of His Word, His Spirit, and the collective wisdom of His Church.
 
The issue is:  Who are you listening to?  What are you listening to?  The Lord expects us to obey Him.  TRUST AND OBEY FOR THERE’S NO OTHER WAY TO BE HAPPY IN JESUS, BUT TO TRUST AND OBEY.

The Love Expectation.  Jesus Expects us to love Him.  (John 21:15-17)
Loving the Lord = More than anyone or anything else!
Loving the Lord = Caring for People.

When the disciples dragged the net full of fish to the shore, Jesus invited the disciples to have breakfast.   After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter a pointed question:  “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  Then a second time:  “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  And a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Three times Simon Peter had denied the Lord.  Now, three times Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love me?”  Since Peter had denied the Lord publicly, it was important for him to be restored publicly.

What did Jesus mean by “do you love me more than these?”  
Simon, Do you love me more than these disciples?  Do you love me more than you love your friends or colleagues, or even your family?  That’s always an appropriate question.
Simon, Do you love me more than these boats and these nets?  Do you love me more than your vocation, your profession, your career, your recreation?  Again, that’s always an appropriate question.
Simon, Do you love me more than these other disciples love me?  Do you love me with a greater devotion and determination than these other men?

Remember that Peter had boasted of his undeniable love – but Jesus had predicted his denial.   Now, Jesus literally challenged Peter:  I WANT YOU TO LOVE ME MORE THAN ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE!   LOVING THE LORD = MORE THAN ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE!  I don’t know about you, but that get’s my attention! Mark this in your mind – ministers leave the ministry, spouses abandon their marriage, parents neglect their children, and people leave the church over someone else or something else.  Make up you mind that you will love the Lord more than anyone else or anything else!  Earlier in his ministry, when asked to declare the greatest commandment, Jesus spoke plainly – Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength!

Peter’s responded to each of these questions:  “Lord, you know I love you.”  And to each response, Jesus gave a commanding challenge: “Feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep, and feed my sheep.”  This imagery is found throughout the New Testament:  The church is the flock of God and the believers who compose the flock are the lambs and the sheep.  Peter would become a pastor of the Jerusalem church and charged with the responsibility of feeding and leading the flock.
 
While it is true that God calls people to serve as pastors and spiritual shepherds (aren’t you grateful for the pastors and shepherds that God has given to Northshore!), he expects every Christian to help care for the flock.  LOVING THE LORD = CARING FOR PEOPLE.  Each one of us has a gift or gifts from the Lord, and we should use our giftedness to care for one another, to encourage one another, to shepherd one another. The old adage is true that people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.  Sheep are prone to wander,  hurt themselves, and get confused.   All of us are expected to look after each other, to encourage each other, to restore each other, to forgive each other.

The Follow Expectation.  Jesus Expects us to follow Him.  (John 12:18-25)
Following Jesus = Ready to Live or Die
Following Jesus = Beyond all Disappointments and Distractions

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?”  He responded, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  Jesus responded, “I assure you: when you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted.  But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.”  And John gave this commentary: “He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God.  After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”  (21:19)  Literally,  in the context of the Greek language, it means “keep on following me.”

This must have been a shock to Peter to have Jesus speak to him about his death just after challenging him about his life’s purpose.  The first time Jesus spoke of His own death, Peter had opposed it (Matthew 16:21ff).  When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus.  Outside the trial of Jesus, Peter boasted he would die for the Lord, but then he denied the Lord. Jesus was simply forcing Peter to face the reality that FOLLOWING THE LORD = READY TO LIVE OR DIE!  When you have settled the issue of death, then you are ready to live and follow Jesus.  Are you ready to die?  You’re not ready to live until your ready to die.  But don’t die before you live.   The Apostle Paul said it this way, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:22)

The Bible does not record how Simon Peter died.  Jesus hinted here what tradition has affirmed:  that Peter was indeed crucified with hands stretched out, but that he asked to be crucified upside down, because he was not worthy to die exactly as his Lord and Master had died.  

Just as he had done two other times, Peter took his eyes off the Lord and looked back.  He heard someone walking behind him.  (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)   This was John.  John was also following Jesus.  In fact, John lived the longest of all the Disciples and received visions of the second coming of Jesus and the end times, which he recorded in the Book of Revelation.  Peter did a foolish thing:  He asked Jesus, “Lord - what about him?”   Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you.  As for you, follow me!”   

Here is a great lesson for all of us.  Jesus expects us to follow Him and we should FOLLOW HIM BEYOND ALL OF OUR DISAPPOINTMENTS AND DISTRACTIONS.  Life is filled with disappointments.  Sometimes other people disappoint us.  Sometimes our circumstances disappoint us.  And it’s real easy to get distracted – to get busy and take our eyes off Jesus. Jesus Expects us to follow Him.  YOU – follow me!

Obey Jesus – Love Jesus – Follow Jesus.  

GREAT EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO GREAT REWARDS!  

One day, the trumpet of the Lord is going to sound, and time will be no more, and the morning is going to break open eternal, bright and fair.  The saved of earth will gather over on the other shore.  And the roll is going to be called – the books are going to be opened.  John saw it in the Revelation:  The saved will be rewarded according to what they have done on earth.  Their names will be read from the book.  As the Apostle Paul affirmed, they will be rewarded according to their works on earth.  We obey Jesus, We love Jesus, We follow Jesus, because the reward is worth it.  

Can you envision the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Lamb of God who died for our sins, our Savior and our Lord, as he reads off the names.  And then he reads off your name.    

Reginald Ray Ogea.  

Yes Lord, here.  

Reginald, they called you Reggie, right?  Reggie, did you obey me?  Reggie, did you love me?  Reggie, did you follow me?

Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your rewards!

What drives me to obey and love and follow Jesus faithfully is the thought that one day I will hear my Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ say, “Well done!”  I cannot bear the thought that Jesus would read my name, and then declare – “Not well done.”