Apr. 26, 2017

The Art of Restoration

Previously we discussed Peter's behavior leading up to, during and after the crucifixion of Jesus. Not too long before all of these events began Peter had boldly declared that he would never deny Jesus.

Matthew 26

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c]

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

As we now know, Peter did deny the Lord three times. Later Peter was ashamed and embarassed because of how cowardly he had behaved. Peter wept bitterly after his triple denial and was greatly disappointed with himself. Peter probably thought his name had been scratched off the apostles list. It is very likely that he wished for himself another opportunity to relive those frightful moments. A couple of days before the crucifixion Peter never thought his fear of being recognized as a disciple of Jesus would far outweigh the bold conviction he had so confidently declared before.

It is easy to declare strength and boldness when there is no present threat. It is no problem to think one can rely on a strength that hasn't been tested. But know this: anything of value will be tested. You won't know for sure how weak or strong it is, until it is tested. Marriage will be tested. Faith will be tested. Love will be tested. Conviction will be tested. Patience will be tested. Humility will be tested. Relationship will be tested.

Peter's conviction failed the test. But that doesn't mean that the person is a failure. It simply means the person is a candidate for Restoration. There is an Art to Restoration. It cannot be done successfully just any ol' kind of way. When Jesus calls to Peter and the others from the seashore, He is beginning to demonstrate the Art of Restoration.

Jesus pulled Peter out of a place of obscurity. Peter thought he had been fired from the ministry so he settled into a place where he planned to fade into nothingness. Peter let that weakness erase his vision. Jesus gave him back the vision. Jesus painted a vivid life ministry portrait of Peter and caused him to stare right into it. Jesus spoke life to him and reaffirmed the call on Peter’s life to do the work of the Lord. Jesus put Peter back on the path of fulfilling God’s purpose for his life. Jesus restated the mission and ministered forgiveness and healing to Peter.

This is the same ministry formula we can use to help people who have made a mistake and need the Art of Restoration ministered to them.

  1. Engage them – be friendly and welcoming. Find a common point of interest. In this case it was fishing. Talk about something in which they have an interest. Share in conversation that will put them at ease. Don't take the 'High and Mighty' approach. Be kind and gentle. John 21:5                                                                                                  “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.

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

    He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

    “No,” they answered.

  2. Give instruction or information that is simple, easy to follow and from which they will yield a noticeable, quick benefit. John 21:6-7      

    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.

    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.
  3. Don’t repel them by talking about their nakedness or insufficiencies. You don’t have to mention everything you see or are aware of. They already know their shortcomings have been exposed. John 21:7-9                                               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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.                                                              
  4. Offer an invitation. Get them to come where you are : first physically, then spiritually. Invite them to a relaxed, peaceful meal (physical and/or spiritual). People like being fed. It demonstrates fellowship, sharing and caring. John 21:10-14    10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat 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.
  5. After they had dined then Jesus got to the heart of the matter. After Jesus showed love. After Jesus demonstrated forgiveness . After Jesus had created an atmosphere where Peter felt safe and accepted THEN Jesus restored Peter's esteem and honor. He gave him back his drive and unction. Jesus reminded Peter of his purpose and let him know it had not been aborted. Peter had not been replaced. He had not lost his position or been demoted. Peter had not been reassigned to a position of lesser responsibility. John 21:15-17      

    15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you 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 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.
  6. Next Jesus communicated to Peter that he wouldn't fall off the wagon again. Peter did not have to live in fear that he may repeat his past mistakes. Jesus let Peter know that he would complete his assignment and gave him concise instruction on how to stay on the right path. Jesus said: Follow Me. He let Peter know to just remember what I told you, go where I send you, preach what I taught you and do what I showed you. John 21:18-19                                                                18 Very truly I tell you, 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!”
  7. Finally, Jesus maintained a relationship and communication that helped Peter to see that even subtle deviations from God’s plan are to be avoided. Don’t compare yourself with other ministries. Don’t be concerned or distracted by what they are doing or not doing: you just keep your eyes on Me. Follow Me. John 21:20-22

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.”

Finally, be aware of the wisdom of Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 

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