Serve the Risen Lord

Trust, Obey, Build
Trust Him as Your Savior

John 21:1 says, "After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way."

By revealing Himself to these four fishermen-turned disciples-turned fishermen, Jesus was bringing things back full circle.

Three years earlier, Peter had caught nothing though he'd been fishing all night.

And his response when Jesus instructed him to cast out his net again and it filled with so many fish it began to break? "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8).

Now, here they are in the same situation yet again. John recognized who was calling to them from the shore.

And what did Peter do? He put on his clothes and threw himself into the sea, swimming as fast as he could to get to Jesus.

The parallel between Jesus first calling Peter and his restoration isn't a coincidence. Jesus was not only restoring Peter's relationship with Him, but calling him, and us, to the very purpose for which He saved us.

John 20:21 says, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."

Peter and the others were to leave behind their old life once and for all. Because of John 20:21, they would become fishers of men, care for His people, engage in spiritual ministry, and make disciples. And we are to do the same.

The great commission sums it up this way: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

And it all begins with a personal relationship with Jesus. Although this may seem obvious, there are people who attend church regularly and serve in various capacities who have never trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord. They look like a Christian on the outside, but inside, they're still dead in their sins.

More than two-thirds of Americans claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and about half of those attend church somewhat regularly. Of the half that go to church, half of them claim their lives are unaffected by church attendance. How disheartening!

We must be very careful where we put our confidence.

Matthew 7:21-23 issues a sobering warning.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"

They thought they were saved! They had labored for Him and said all the right things, but none of that mattered.

We can't point to our "good works" as a reason why we should gain entrance into heaven. All our works of (self) righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). If we don't have genuine faith, everything we do is sin (Romans 14:23). Apart from God's transforming work, our hearts are desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). So sick, that we're dead in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). That's why no one seeks after God (Romans 3:11).

But there's good news. Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you admit to Christ that you're a sinner and trust in His saving work on the cross, He will forgive you of all your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. It is then, and only then, that you'll be able to obey His command to go and make disciples.

Even after we come to saving faith, our feelings of inadequacy can keep us from walking in obedience. Maybe we don't feel like we can do a good enough job to honor Christ. So, for fear of failing and possibly dishonoring the Savior, we don't do much at all.

Even those who are actively involved in ministry make mistakes. We all fail from time to time—even pastors.

Instead of discouraging us, Jesus's words in John 15:5 should be a tremendous encouragement. He says, "Apart from me you can do nothing."

We all need Christ to be at work in and through us—even to accomplish tasks we think we're good at.

After all, these disciples were experienced fishermen. They were hoping to find some satisfaction, and possibly some joy, doing what they knew how to do. But, without Jesus's intervention, that was not to be.

If we're trying to do something in our own strength, no matter how extensive our abilities, we can't expect God-sized outcomes. No one can. No one can serve the Lord unless they're depending on His strength, provision, wisdom, grace, and mercy.

Acts 17:28 says, "In him we live and move and have our being."
Jesus says, in John 15:5, "Apart from me you can do nothing."

We must accept the fact that we are, indeed, inadequate to accomplish what He call us to. However, the good news is that all genuine believers can trust the all-sufficiency of Christ to enable us to serve Him. Although we are inadequate to serve the Lord, we can't let that stop us.

And while biblically centered training is a good thing—necessary in many cases, we must never believe that this training is a substitute for the Lord's direct intervention in our situation, in our life.

Only the One who is Truth can dispel the lies. Only the True Light can shine in the darkness. Only the Giver of Life can raise people from their spiritual deadness.

Still, He calls us to be part of the plan. He calls us to obey His Word—and He enables us to do so.

Obey His Word

We don't know for sure why these experienced fishermen, who had caught nothing all night, would heed the words of someone calling to them from the shore. At this point, they didn't realize it was Jesus.

What we do know is that obedience changed their situation dramatically.

What would have happened if the disciples had chosen not to obey the Lord? If they had trusted their own knowledge, experience, and abilities? They would never have been blessed with an abundant catch. And if we make excuses why we can't serve the lord, then we'll never get to watch Him work though us.

In J. C. Ryle's commentary, he states that the point Jesus was making was "the only way you can be successful in serving Him is if you're obedient to His Word." [1] The Lord blesses our obedience, not our excuses.

If we're going to serve Christ, we not only have to trust Him as our Savior and Lord, we not only have to be obedient to His Word, but we must build our relationship with Him.

Build Your Relationship with Him

How did Peter react when John said the man on the shore was Jesus? He couldn't row fast enough to get to Him. So, he jumped into the water and swam to shore.

Really? After he had made such bold claims?
"Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death" (Luke 22:33).
"Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away" (Matthew 26:33).
After he denied Jesus three times when the Master needed him the most?

Peter was heartbroken—for oh, so many reasons! Yet, I believe, it was his broken relationship with Jesus that was the most devastating. And here was a chance to be with his Master again, even after the disciple's many failures. And he took that chance.

Jesus offers mercy and grace to those who recognize they are inadequate but who want a genuine relationship with Him nonetheless.

Everyone who professes Christ as Savior and Lord is commanded to serve Him. If we're going to serve Christ effectively, whether it's as an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, usher, evangelist, missionary, or in some other capacity, we not only have to trust Him as our Savior and Lord, we not only have to be obedient to His Word, we have to work on building our relationship with Him.

We must come to saving faith. We must feed on His Word. We must pray and fellowship with other believers. In so doing, we can deepen our relationship with Him. It's the only way we can effectively serve Him.

[1] Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], p. 437