Sermon from Sunday April 14th 2013 / Third Sunday of Easter
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr Ted A. Giese / April 14th Easter 3 - / John 21:1-14. Saint Peter’s Surprise Fresh Start
After this Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 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.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 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. 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. 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 off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 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. 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. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. They say, you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy – or in Peter’s case you can take the boy out of the fishing boat but you can’t take the Fisher out of the boy. Peter was a fisher of fish before he met Jesus and Jesus made him a fisher of men, yet Peter still went a’ fishin.’ Here we have Peter doing just that.
Peter was not perfect, he’d early on, had a mixed up idea of who Jesus was supposed to be, he’d tried to fight to protect Jesus as Jesus was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, he’d run away in the night, he’d denied knowing Jesus as Jesus was on trial and he’d been left pondering the events of the crucifixion and the empty tomb that first Easter Morning, Peter had needed Jesus’ forgiveness often and this morning’s reading is setting the stage for Peter’s forgiveness yet again. You see our Gospel reading ends with a presumably wet Peter who’d thrown himself into the water and had rushed to see Jesus at the shore and who had jumped back on the boat, once it was back at the shore, to hall off a huge catch of miraculous fish over to Jesus. This is pretty much were our reading ends today but this isn’t where the story ends, with the breakfast over, “Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” [Peter] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to [Peter], “Feed My lambs.” [Jesus] said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” [Peter] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to [Peter], “Tend My sheep.” [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and [Peter] said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 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.” (This [Jesus] said to show by what kind of death [Peter] was to glorify God.) And after saying this [Jesus] said to [Peter], “Follow me.”
A Jewish psychiatrist once said, “Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation” Some people feel like God is busy retaliating against them for everything that they’ve done wrong, but here in the Gospel we see God come to His disciples once again with forgiveness and the fulfilment of His promises. Jesus brakes the endless cycle with His given Body and His Shed blood. Before His death on the Cross Jesus had told His disciples many times that He “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Saint John, in the Gospel that bears his name, again shows us Jesus doing just this, particularly Jesus showing the disciples His risen Body which is proof of God’s Love for them and for you.
We started off with the saying: “You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy” then we expanded it by saying that in Peter’s case you can take the boy out of the fishing boat but you can’t take the Fisher out of the boy. When it comes to sin many people would think you can take the boy out of the sin but you can’t take the sin out of the boy. Or something like “once a thief always a thief,” but this isn’t Jesus’ Way for you, it isn’t Jesus Truth for you, and it isn’t Jesus’ Life for you. When it comes to sin the forgiveness won by Jesus at the cross, the forgiveness proven by the empty tomb is perfect in its power to remove sin. When Jesus forgives you, it is complete forgiveness, its perfect forgiveness. The world might constantly bring up your past, tossing in your face, but Jesus will not, Jesus will forgive you just as He forgave Peter. If you’ve gone back to your old ways, Jesus will be on the beach calling out to you; if you’ve been caught up again in that trouble that doesn’t seem to want to let you go, that sin that seems to have your number, Jesus will still say to you “Follow Me.”
Dear Christians you are sealed into this same Jesus in your Baptism and for this reason you are free daily to return to those waters in Christ Jesus and gain a new fresh start; by daily confession, by daily asking for the forgiveness of Jesus you will be washed clean, Jesus’ fresh start is all yours. Morning and evening and at any other time of the day you can remember your baptism, examine your condition with the ten commandments and pray the Lord’s Prayer which includes the petition “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In this you have a fresh start when you get up and a fresh start when you go to your sleep and a fresh start at any other time that you need it. This fresh start is in Jesus, in His resurrection He gives it to you as a gift just as He gave it to Peter. Even still Peter needed to hear it from the lips of Jesus, and Jesus came to Peter and spoke forgiveness to him on that beach. We in our lives need to hear the words of forgiveness too; we need to hear that Jesus’ forgiveness is for me. So God is merciful and kind and He gives us the office of the keys, He gives us pastors and fellow Christians who can say to you, “You are forgiven” and when you hear these words you can trust them because Jesus said to His disciples “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” This is good news for you, because when we are alone, when we are apart from our fellow Christians in Christ Jesus, we are often unsure of the forgiveness we have received because day in and day out the devil and our own sinful flesh sows seeds of doubt on the forgiveness of Jesus. A good day, then, is a day when we hear Jesus’ forgiveness pronounced to us, spoken to us by a fellow Christian, by our pastor. Each day like that is precious, each day like that is a gift.
Saint John continues to tell us in his Revelation, that, “[Jesus] who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” 
That morning, on the beach with Peter, Jesus was making Peter new, as Jesus forgives you, you are being made new. On the last day all things will be made new and they will never need to be made new again. In the mean time Jesus is committed by His shed blood and His promises to you to make you new each and every time you come to Him for forgiveness, each and every time you rely on the gifts given to you in your baptism and in the meal you will share this day, each and every time you come with a repentant heart to Him in the prayer He teaches you to pray.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 “Hollywood 1938.” Henry Major & Bugs Baer. The phrase ‘you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy’ was first seen in this book as a caption to a caricature of James Stewart.
 John 20:24-31
 John 20:19-23
 Luke 22:7-23
 Mark 1:29-31
 Mark 1:16-20
 Mark 1:32-34, 2:1-12, 3:1-6, 5:1-20, 5:21-34
 Mark 6:30-44, 8:1-10, Luke 9:10-17
 Mark 10:1-12, Luke 6:27-49
 Mark 12:13-17
 Mark 5:35-43, Luke 7:11-17
 Mark 6:45-52
 Luke 8:22-25
 Mark 9:2-13, Luke:9:28-36
 Luke 5:12-16
 Mark 7:24-30, Luke 7:36-50, Luke 19:1-10
 John 20:1-10, Luke 24:1-12
 Luke 24:36-49
 Mark 8:31-33
 John 18:1-11
 Mark 14:50
 John 18:15-18, 25-27
 John 20:1-10
 John 21:15-19
 Roberto Assagioli, “If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren’t There More Happy People?” John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, pg. 124.
 Mark 8:31
 “A Spanish-English and English-Spanish Dictionary, with Grammar,” John Stevens, 1706. One of the earliest recordings of the idiom ‘once a thief always a thief.’
 “Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation” 1991. pg. 32.
 ibid, pg. 26-29.
 John 20:23
 Revelation 21:3-5
 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14 ESV)
 John 21:24-31