Gospel of second chances


What does the resurrection do for you and me today? Is it something that is only relevant for our eternity or are there wonderful blessings that it promises us today?


Let us understand that the resurrection is about second chances.

Sermon Plan

We will look at a different approach, our need for Jesus, some misconceptions about God's love and the Gospel of second chances.

Trying a different approach with Jesus

The disciples went fishing after Jesus’ resurrection, but without success (John 21:1-19). They probably used a net made from flax, a circle net about 6 yards or meters across with small lead weights attached to the borders. it was thrown with great skill to open up as it hit the water. The weights dropped and the net encircled the fish. Men then jumped into the water to retrieve the net, so they often fished naked. The fish were then sorted into clean and unclean and counted so that each received a fair share and to pay their taxes. Day laborers usually helped with the duties. Fishermen probably knew the local Aramaic language, Hebrew and also Greek the language of trade. Jesus was not a fisherman but gave advice to the experts. Would we try a different approach with Jesus?

Without Jesus we all fail

The disciples of Jesus had failed to remain loyal to him during his trial and crucifixion. Highlighting that failure, when they returned to their trade they also failed (John 21:1-19). This world is run by incredibly intelligent and fabulously educated people, but world leadership continues to fail miserably. We are no different than Jesus’ first disciples. When they finally make an enormous catch, with Jesus’ help, he invited them put their bounty with his for a meal. This is one of life’s great lessons, that we must learn over and over. Whatever we accomplish, whatever talents we may have, it all comes from God and we need him every hour. Jesus then recommissioned Peter, as he denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus now reconfirmed his commission 3 times. We all fail many times and need Jesus’ reconfirmation time and again.

The agapé lie

Some who are ignorant of biblical Greek claim that agapé is divine love and phileo is a mere human love. This is sheer fiction. The Greek wordagapé can mean a wrong kind of love, like men who loved darkness (John 3:19), or loving the praise of men more than God (John 12:43), and one who loved this world more than Paul (2 Timothy 4:10). Jesus shows that if Peter loved Jesus then he expected him to show that love through an act of brotherly love, “feed my sheep.” (John 21:1-19) There is no greater love than to die for our brothers [philos] (John 15:13). Jesus also showed that he expects his followers to show love to him in acts of brotherly love towards the needy, like foreigners, homeless, sick and prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46).

The eros-phileo-agapé myth

Lesser-educated preachers have perpetuated a myth that love in biblical Greek has three levels: eros (sensual), phileo (brotherly) and agapé(supposedly godly love). One example is a wrong explanation of John 21:1-19 where the risen Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Jesus' question was quite simple, not with the contrived assumptions sometimes preached. Depending on the context, agapé and phileo have similar meanings. Peter did not attempt to avoid the question, but replied quite plainly, "You know that I love you (like a brother)." Peter was not lessening Jesus' question to a lower level of love, as sometimes falsely claimed. Actually, Peter implied that he loved Jesus like a brother for whom he would die. "Greater love [agapé] has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [or brothers, philos]" (John 15:13)

Breakfast with Jesus

John 21:1-19 shows how the resurrection works in our lives: restoration to God and real forgiveness. The disciples had all acted like cowards. They felt guilty and ashamed. Retreating to the familiarity of fishing with fruitless efforts. Jesus provided fish and invited them to breakfast. It was time to move on from their grief and fear. They were no different than any of us. We love Jesus, but sometimes are afraid. With three confirmations of his love Peter symbolically undid his three denials. Each time Jesus reminded him of the next step. There was a job still to be done. Like Peter we are forgiven and invited to start over. No need for guilt, shame and fear. The resurrected Jesus invites us to the mission at hand. Come and have breakfast with Jesus. Then, let us feed his sheep.

The Gospel of second chances

A preacher in a legalistic church once claimed that God did not give second chances, but then we have the Gospel story in John 21:1-19. Here we see Peter who had royally screwed up after three years of apprenticeship in Jesus’ personal training program only to blow it completely at the last minute. How many of us have completely blown something in life? Perhaps it was our children that we hurt deeply because of family injustice or a spouse because of a betrayal or a friend because of a confidence we failed to keep. Like Peter, we too have denied Jesus Christ. Forgiveness does not mean that we trust completely the one who has hurt us deeply, but it does mean that we give them a second chance if they are willing. If we want it, God is willing.

Outro/Take Home

If we have ever done things that we truly regret, the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers us a second chance.