LIFEhouse Youth Ministry Leader, Debee Jusko, gives an inspiring message on why we follow Jesus. It’s all about love.
LIFEhouse Church benefits because fewer people slip through the cracks. That can happen in a large church like ours. When caring needs surface, Stephen Ministry provides a way to fill those needs. Our congregation becomes a more caring community where people know their needs will be met.
Even if you never become a Stephen Minister or a Care Receiver, you also benefit for a couple of reasons. Probably every one of us has known someone who has faced a difficult crisis – perhaps a neighbor, a coworker, a friend, or a relative. We may have wanted to help somehow but didn’t know how beyond saying, “I’m praying for you,” or sending them a card. Sometimes we might even have avoided that person because we weren’t sure what to say or how to help.
Our Stephen Ministry can connect those people to receive Jesus’ love and care when they need it most. You can pull that person aside and lovingly say; “I know you’ve been going through a rough time lately. Let me tell you about a ministry at our church that provides one-to-one Christian care to people going through tough times.”
You can then put them in touch with Pr. Dana or Stephen Leaders Sandy Beck, Buzz Brown, and Peter Borck who can take the next step and, if appropriate, match them with a Stephen Minister. No longer do you have to stand by and watch someone suffer alone because you do not know what to do or say. LIFEhouse as a whole benefits because more people experience Christ’s love in a significant way, and are called to Christ, and grow in faith. They become better disciples and thus are better able to reach out with Jesus’ love to still others who may be outside the church.
So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
’Come and have breakfast,’ said Jesus to them. None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the master. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so also with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus had appeared to the disciples after he had been raised from the dead.
Jesus asks for fish even though he doesn’t need them. Perhaps it is just to show how abundant his life continues to be and how he will continue to be with his followers. And his followers know him by what he does. The miraculous becomes everyday and the greatest of these is the one who serves.
So, Peter does have something to do after all. He drags the net to shore and when the fish are flopping on the beach they count 153! Why this number? I don’t know. Search the web and you will find plenty of theories about the number 153.
But, what it does show me is there is an eyewitness to this event. 153 isn’t an estimate! It is rather a specific number. That’s a lot of fish. Enough to feed the whole village. And Jesus isn’t done, yet.
Once again, he is the giving signs of his graciousness. The one whom everyone ought to be serving, the risen Messiah himself, is the one who continues to serve.
Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so also with the fish.
This link to Holy Communion is not missed. The bread of life continues to offer the bread.
is the third time Jesus appears to these disciples and they continue to be surprised. It’s the same for us. When you follow the risen Lord you are surprised a lot. You don’t know what to expect except this. When you hang around with Jesus, you want to be there, but it is not going to be comfortable for long. There is a settling down in peace from time to time, and then on to the next adventure! We are still fishing…
What are some of the recent events in your life that appear to be reflecting the activity of God?
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.
Here comes impetuous Peter again. Acting before he is thinking. Usually you take your clothes off before you dive into the water. John, the author, has to explain. You take your clothes off down to your skivvies when you are fishing. You don’t want to get your clothes stinky from fish. But, then Peter puts his clothes back on and dives into the water. That doesn’t make sense. Maybe he thought he could walk on the water, only this time he wouldn’t get wet. No, I don’t think so.
What it does look like however, is Peter doesn’t expect to do any more fishing. He takes what he needs and leaves the boat behind. The rest of the disciples will have to fend for themselves when it comes to bringing the boat in. Doing all the hard work.
Oh, oh. Maybe Peter shouldn’t have go there so fast. It’s Jesus and here is another charcoal fire. The last time Peter was sitting around a charcoal fire by Jesus it was the worst time of his life.
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself…”
Yes in front of last charcoal fire he was at, Peter denied Jesus three times. And Jesus knows it.
This time, in front of another charcoal fire, Jesus is cooking breakfast.
What must be going through Peter’s mind? When Jesus appeared before Peter two times before now after his resurrection, he doesn’t deal with the denial. And Peter hasn’t got up enough courage to broach the subject. You can sense something is coming, but don’t know what.
Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.
What we do know is Jesus is cooking breakfast. He has fish and bread. He needs nothing from the disciples. What he needs done he is certainly capable of doing. It is good to remember this.
When we say we are doing God’s work through our Christian service it’s good to remember God doesn’t need us. His Kingdom will come the way he wants it to whether we are involved or not. Whether it’s us as individual Christians or gathered as a Christian church, God doesn’t need us. He chooses to give us the opportunity to serve and get his message out there. But, he can handle what he wants done perfectly fine on his own.
The more we think God’s mission revolves around us the more we make two errors in thinking. When things are going good we subtly think we are the ones who do it. To us get the glory. When things are rough and people aren’t being reached and don’t look to be changing for the good, we feel guilty because somehow, we haven’t done enough.
God gets done what he wants done and we get to be involved because it is his pleasure to share his mission with us. Not because we have to, we get to.
What’s the most fun you have connecting with God?
At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”
One of the amazing things about Jesus is God coming in the form of a man. The incarnation, we call it. And this remains amazing because the risen Jesus is still human. At least that’s what he sounds like.
Anyone who fishes knows this to be the case. What is the first question you ask when someone comes back from fishing?
“Did you catch anything?”
Jesus the risen Lord, King of Kings…
“Have you caught any fish?”
2000 years later and we say the same thing! Now, there is a Lord I can relate to! But human though he is, his voice is miraculous or at least quite persuasive.
“Throw your net on the right-hand side of the boat…”
Do you see how ridiculous this is? Fish are fish. If you fish from the left or right side of the boat, it’s the same fish that are just swimming back and forth anyway. They don’t stay on one side or the other. The disciples must have thought Jesus was nuts.
But, they do it. Out goes the net on the other side. And sure enough, bam! They get a net full of fish! So many they have to drag the net along as they go towards shore. And then John states the obvious. “It’s the Lord!”
When your nights have nothing don’t give up. Jesus is waiting in the morning. This happens, doesn’t it? Something might be troubling you and you sleep on it and when you wake up it’s a new day. There are new possibilities. For whatever reason, sometimes things look better in the morning.
Get a good night’s sleep (at least 8 hours) tonight.
So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
Fishing all night and they caught nothing. They got “skunked,” we would say. Now, there are a ton of fish in Lake Galilee. What are the chances the disciples finally get back to work and their first day they catch nothing?
This is not a good sign of days to come. What is going through their minds?
I wonder if they are thinking maybe they wasted the last three years of their lives with Jesus? They don’t have much to show for that and now look. The fish aren’t even biting! They have lost their touch.
Perhaps you have had your “night and nothing” times in life. When something seemed like the right thing to do but it didn’t pan out. You tried and tried, but just kept getting skunked.
Well, don’t give up, because there might be someone waiting in the morning fog.
What is challenging you right now in your life? How might God be at work?
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said.
The Passover Festival is over and the disciples return to their homes. Seven of them go back to Capernaum on Lake Galilee. This is where they stayed when they were with Jesus. Now that he is risen from the dead, they return there. And they wait…
What a momentous couple of weeks it has been! They parade into Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. Jesus is arrested, put on trial and crucified. He raises from the dead. He appears to Mary Magdalene first. Then he appears to the rest of the disciples minus Thomas, though they don’t know what to make of him. He breathes the Holy Spirit on them. He walks through walls and disappears the same way.
Then he appears to them again so Thomas can see him. But, there he goes again, he vanishes. Well, it’s now time to leave Jerusalem because the Festival is over and they don’t live in Jerusalem. They return home and they wait. What is there for them to do?
Peter takes the lead once again. Enough of this waiting around. Time to go back to the same job they had before they met Jesus.
“I’m going fishing.”
It’s like old times. I’m sure the rest of the disciples’ families are glad that are fishing again. This is their livelihood and it must have been hard to do their work while they traveled around with Jesus.
“We’ll come, too,” they all said.
They are all waiting for someone to take the lead. What do you do with the rest of your life when what you thought was going to would happen doesn’t? Jesus has told them, “As the father has sent me, so I send you,” but nothing is happening. The Messiah has come and gone and things are about the same…
Think back to a disappointing time in your life. Where was God in that time?
When Jesus appears to the disciples for the third time after he raises from the dead, they are in for a surprise…
30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
This is our book. It is not some old ancient volume that is meant to gather dust. It is not a book of spells to be used for blessing and cursing. It is not some how-to book on living the Christian life. John the disciple, who is also John the author, explains the purpose of the Bible, from his eyewitness viewpoint.
John explains that he recorded events in the life of Jesus that are not exhaustive, but representative. There are “many other miraculous signs…”
Jesus did way more things as signs of the connection between heaven and earth. God living amongst his people. But, what is discovered here in the Bible is enough evidence for us to continue putting our trust in Jesus. But, it is more than trust.
What we read in this book, what we experience as the Holy Spirit guides us through these pages, is this.
This is what we are promised. All the power available in the name of Jesus is there for us to receive. And we need it. Because by living the life he intends for us to live, we will be a sign of the joy experienced by the disciples who witness his resurrection.
There has to be more than simply loving life. It is loving life in the power of Jesus. We begin to see what he sees. “As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.”
The mission of Jesus is to rescue and restore Israel. Through his death and resurrection, the mission is completed. But it is so much more that. Jesus points to this earlier in his life when he speaks to the Samaritan woman.
Jesus tells her, “Salvation, you see, is indeed from the Jews.”
From the Jews into the new creation. Now, we have the same mission as Jesus did, to rescue and restore, but not just Israel. For the whole world. He gives us the Holy Spirit, and with his power, here we go. We are the messengers now. Abundant life. New life. Available for all by the power of his name.
Whom do you know who needs a dose of abundant life? How might you be of service?
26 After eight days His disciples were again inside with the doors shut, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand here and place it in My side. Do not be faithless, but believing.”
28 Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed.”
It is eight days later. Including Easter as a day, we are back to Sunday again. Jesus and the disciples have come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival and now Passover is over. The disciples are going to have to return to Galilee. But, here we go again. Jesus appears suddenly and this time Thomas is there.
First thing Jesus does is announce everything is going to be all right. Shalom. Peace. Then Jesus speaks directly to Thomas. He has knowledge of Thomas’s prior skepticism.
“Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand here and place it in My side. Do not be faithless, but believing.”
Let’s think about these scars, for a moment. Jesus has a new body. The kind of body that looks like him, but is very different. He is not identical to the Jesus they knew before. They recognize him by what he says and by his actions. But, there is also the scars. What are they all about?
If Jesus is given a new resurrection body, we’ll call it, why keep the scars?
Well, scars are a sign of God’s original covenant commitment to his people. Circumcision. A sign that God is committed to humanity.
Now in the new covenant with all of humanity, God’s son, himself, bears this permanent sign of his humanity, even as he rules from heaven. The first human of the new creation takes his place as ruler in the heavenly dimension.
Thomas is the first person in John’s gospel to recognize Jesus for who he really is.
Then we hear Jesus not so much criticize Thomas as he does encourage us. This is meant as an encouragement for all who do not see Jesus physically, but who still believe.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed.”
So, there we have it. The story begins with the invisible God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”
Then we have the visible God, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
To the invisible God, God of empty tomb and folded grave cloths, to the visible God again, “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand here and place it in My side…”
To the invisible God…the one we worship.
Look up Isaiah 49:16 and think about how this connects.