Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Rewards of Grace: A Faith Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established through Christ Jesus’
© April 23, 2017 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer Opening Hymn #449: I Feel the Winds of God Today; Choruses Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Responsive Reading #605: Prayer of Penitence (Psalm 51) Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Rewards of Grace: A Faith Restored, Confirmed, Strengthened, and Established through Christ Jesus’
Let us pray…
Welcome to Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service in heart of Toronto, here at BLCF Church.
Last Sunday, we celebrated the close of Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, where we studied the elements of Gospel of Jesus which included:
- Jesus arrival at Jerusalem while riding a young donkey on Palm Sunday
- Jesus washes the feet of the disciples as an example of humble ministry
- Jesus serves bread and wine to the disciples as an example of how the disciples should remember his sacrifice until he returns on Judgement day
- Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday to pay the debt of the sins of humanity
- Jesus’ resurrection from death and emergence from the tomb, proof of his Lordship and His’s New Covenant
Our lesson this morning, we will examine the similarities and differences between the experiences of the disciple Peter and the accounts of the testing of Job by Satan.
We will also contrast and compare the betrayals of our Lord by the disciples Judas Iscariot and Peter.
To begin our lesson, let us read the first of today’s Scriptures, taken from
Luke 5:1-11 (ESV), where Jesus calls his disciples:
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which were Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, and “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men and women.”[A] 11 and when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Footnotes: a. Luke 5:10 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women
In this account, Jesus encounters the disciples Simon, James and John, as they had just completed a fruitless night of fishing. The Lord enters one of the two boats and asks the fishermen to go a short distance from the shore; so that he may teach the people gathered nearby and he could be better heard by the people.
At the conclusion of speaking to the crowd, Jesus instructs the fishermen to cast their nets into the water and the nets are brought up filled to the breaking point with fish. The fishermen and crowd are astonished at the great catch of fish.
It is then that Simon Peter tells Jesus to depart from him as he is a sinner.
Jesus tells the fishermen not to be afraid, that he intends to make them fishers of men and women. The three fishermen abandon their boat and fishing equipment to follow the Lord.
Our next Scripture passage comes from Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV), where Simon Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ:
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Jesus praises Peter’s perception as being a divine gift from God. The Lord designates Peter to be the foundation for his living church, a foundation that will prevail against Satan’s domain, which is hell. Peter is chosen by the Lord as the one who will inherit the keys to God’s Kingdom of Heaven.
But the Satan, the devil, is not pleased with Jesus’ plan for the establishment of his kingdom on earth. Since the devil had unsuccessfully tempted and tested the faith of Jesus, Satan demands to test Peter, whom he had selected as leader of the disciples and his future church.
Jesus warns Peter of the threat from Satan and foretells of how Peter will falter and deny his Lord not just once, but three times before the rooster crows in the morning, as we read in Luke 22:31-34 (ESV):
Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
In spite of Peter’s declaration of his faith to Jesus being so great that the disciple is willing suffer both prison and death as proof of his faith.
However, the prophecy of Jesus is true as we see in Luke 22:54-62 (ESV):
Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter weeps just as Jesus had predicted, he betrays the Lord three times and in doing so commits sin against the Son of God three times. Jesus is taken away based on the false testimony of Judas Iscariot and then abandoned by his beloved disciple, Peter.
After his resurrection, Jesus seeks his disciples and finds them in the same circumstances as his first encounter with Peter, John and James, being unsuccessful in fishing the night before, John 21:1-19 (ESV):
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
So great was Judas Iscariot despair over his surrender to Satan’s temptation to sin and betray Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, the former disciple had chosen to take his own life.
Though Peter had sinned against Jesus, unlike Judas Iscariot, the disciple had not chosen to abandon faith in Jesus and to follow Satan. And Jesus’ death on the cross had provided a path to reconciliation and restoration to Peter for his sins, provided he demonstrated his penitence to the Lord for the three times he sinned against Jesus by denying him, as we continue reading from John 21, beginning at verse 15:
Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
Three times Jesus asks Peter to declare love for his Lord and three times Peter complies, one for each of the three times Peter sinned against Jesus. And each time Peter acknowledges his love for his Lord, Jesus instructs Peter: “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep”, and “feed my sheep”.
After foretelling the manner of his death by which the disciple would glorify God, Jesus instructs Peter to “follow me”. Peter’s foundation of faith in grace of God, through Christ Jesus, has been restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established. Finally, on the Day of Pentecost, the Lord’s church will be born.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #403: Walking In Sunlight All of My Journey
Benediction – (1 Peter 5:10): And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.