Our lives are shaped by our commitments. The truth is, we become whatever we are committed to. In looking back throughout history, we see that great lives are built on great commitments. No man or woman is ever born great.
If we are honest, we struggle with commitment because of different reasons.
- We fear that we might fail if we jump in 100%.
- We can feel inadequate.
- We don't want to commit because we don't like to commit :)
What is commitment? Commitment is the capacity to carry out the intent of a decision long after the emotion that inspired it has faded.
What does it mean to be committed to following Jesus? Is it going to church? Is it just praying a prayer? Is it more than that?
In Mark 1:16-20, we see the first disciples' response to Jesus' invitation to follow Him…
Following Christ means to commit your life to HIM.
Can you sense the urgency in the invitation to follow Jesus? Jesus didn’t give them a 5-year plan. Jesus didn’t tell them all of the struggles they would face. He invited the disciples to trust in Him, despite the unknowns about the future. It is just the case with us today. Christianity is not just a set of beliefs. Christianity is not just a religion. Christianity is a faith relationship with Jesus Christ.
Peter was the epitome of commitment:
- Peter was from Bethsaida and lived in Capernaum, both on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
- He was married (1 Corinthians 9:5), and he and James and John were fishermen (Luke 5:10).
- After Peter left his old life on the shore and followed Jesus, he made some crazy, faith-filled decisions. He was the only human being to ever walk on water (Matthew 14:28-29).
- Peter told Jesus that he would die for him (John 13:37) right before Jesus was arrested. As Jesus was being arrested Peter tried to protect Jesus, so he pulls out his sword and cuts off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Jesus immediately healed the man's ear.
- Shortly after Jesus is on trial, Peter denies Jesus three times (John 18:17-18, 25-27). Jesus had predicted Peter’s denial. Peter wept bitterly knowing that He had failed Jesus.
After Peter’s denial, Jesus was crucified and on the third day He rose from the grave. And one morning, after Jesus has risen, He comes to the Sea of Galilee looking for His disciples. Jesus finds Peter fishing again, not for people, but for fish. Jesus has a heart-to-heart conversation with his "failed" disciple. But there were other disciples on the beach that morning that fled once Jesus was arrested. As the disciples eat an entire meal on the beach with Jesus, it appears that Peter doesn’t speak.
Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" (John 21:16-19). Peter was grieved. Sitting on the beach after breakfast, Jesus had just asked him for the third time if he loved him. We can compare Peter’s grieving over his sin with his weeping bitterly after he denied Christ the third time. Jesus now changes His question to use the same word Peter was using. He asks, do you have any affection for Me? Jesus says, “Take care of my sheep.”
Peter’s mission was to take care of the young church that Jesus established.
If we have found the love of Jesus in our own lives and if we feel a great love FOR Jesus in our hearts, then we will SHARE that love by feeding and caring for Jesus' sheep.
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM PETER’S LIFE?
1. God’s grace is what SAVES us and SUSTAINS us
What is grace? It is God’s unmerited favor. It is God’s crazy unconditional love. He pursues us!
All other world religions focus on what man can do to try and earn salvation.
Christianity focuses on what God has already done for man in Jesus Christ.
Once a person receives Jesus as their Savior, the journey is to become more like Jesus. God’s grace is what saves us and gives us strength to live for Him!
2. Jesus forgives UNFAITHFULNESS because He is FAITHFUL
It seemed that Peter had burned his bridges, but Jesus lovingly rebuilt them and restored Peter to service. Peter was a former failure, but, with Jesus, failure is not the end.
No matter how great we have failed Jesus, He stands ready to forgive us and give us a fresh start.
3. Jesus uses ORDINARY people to do EXTRAORDINARY things
On the shore of Lake Galilee, Jesus gave Peter a new life and a new purpose, freeing him from his past and his sins. Jesus gave the disciples a vision of something larger than themselves. After Jesus forgave and reinstated Peter, he never denied Christ again. And just a few days later, on the Day of Pentecost, fully restored, he stood in the temple courts and preached an amazing message!
Even arrest, beatings, and threats could not dampen Peter’s resolve to preach the gospel of Jesus.
Peter became like who He was committed to.
His life was sustained and grown through Jesus’ love and grace.
Commitment begins and continues through a relationship with Jesus Christ.