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GOD'S WORK OF RESTORATION (John 21) (Kent Smith Notes 6/30/24)




My dad did some furniture restoration over the years.  On occasion I was called to help.

I can remember taking pieces of old antique furniture covered with layers of paint.

We’d strip off the paint only to discover damaged and scarred wood, split panels, gouged boards, and broken hardware.

We would take it completely apart and begin to repair and refinish one part at a time.

Then we would reassemble it, sand it down, and put a new finish on it.

In the end the broken and scarred furniture was restored and useful again.

What was once thought to be only a damaged piece of furniture could become a restored treasure of even greater value.

This is what God does with us.


Some background

  • Jesus calls the disciples, including Simon. (John 1:40-41)

  • Jesus helps Simon in his fishing. (Luke 4:4-7)

  • Peter walks on water - a little! (Mt. 14:22-33)

  • Jesus begins calling Simon “Peter.” (John 1:42)

  • Peter has bold insights into Christ Jesus. (Mt. 16:13-18)

  • Peter is one of the inner circle.

  • Transfiguration/and the Garden Prayer

  • Peter denies association with Jesus. (John 18:17, 25-27)

  • Peter witnesses the resurrected Jesus. (John 20)


  • John 1:40-41 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” which translated means Christ.

  • Luke 5:4-6 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;

  • Matthew 14: 28-30 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus, but seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink.

  • John 1:42  He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas”   Cephas – Aramaic for rock (which is translated Peter).or Petros – small stone.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I  also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build My church;

  • Petros – small stone

  • Petra – foundation boulder (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Mt. 16:13-20)

  • Matthew 17:1-2 Jesus took with Him Peter and [a]James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  //   Mt. 26:36-38 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

  • John 18:17 Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”  // John 18:25-27 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, *said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

  • John 20 : 19-20 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.



  • Peter returned to fishing and several others joined him.

  • After a night of failing as fishermen they encountered Jesus.

  • Jesus questions the love and commitment of Peter.


Giving Up

Settling for “good enough”

Minimizing risk – sacrificing potential gain

Staying in the comfortable – no need for effort or change

John 21:1-14

Peter’s willingness to abandon the cause and return to fishing.

Peter’s influence and leadership among the others.

The fishing trip is a bust.

Returning to shore “a man” advises them to cast on the right side of the boat.

They catch so many fish that they cannot pull the net into the boat.

John recognizes that it must be Jesus on the shore.

He shares this, and Peter quickly jumps out of the boat to get to Jesus.

The rest of the disciples bring the boat to shore, hauling the net full of fish.

There they find that Jesus already had a fire and was cooking himself some fish and bread. 

He invites them to bring some of their fish to cook on the fire.

So, Peter hauls the net full of fish from the boat to the land, then they gather around, and Jesus feeds them.

John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you [f]love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 

“more than these” likely refers to the fish and fishing.

Do you love me more than the lifestyle you have become accustomed to?

Do you love me more than your comfort?

There is also much made of the different words for love in the Greek.  

Phileo – a familial love: brotherly love: affection; and care.

Agape – a supreme love of total commitment, likely including some measure of sacrifice.

It is the love God shows for us in sacrificing His Son.

It is the love Jesus shows in sacrificing His life.

Jesus was asking Peter if he was totally committed to Him more than the fish and fishing.

Peter’s response was an expression of true love but was still lacking the total commitment Christ was asking about.

Nevertheless, Jesus instructs Peter to “tend His lambs.”  He gives Peter an extraordinary task of great responsibility; to nurture and feed the most vulnerable among his followers: the newborn believers (which would be plentiful at Pentecost.)  

        The love a mother shows for the care and nurture of her small children.

John 21:16   He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you [h]love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [i]love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 

Again, Jesus asks him, “Do you love me?” with the love of total commitment.  Again, Peter replies, “You know that I love you,” albeit with something less than total commitment.

Perhaps Peter was reflecting on his denials, acknowledging his lack of total commitment. 

Nevertheless, Jesus instructs Peter to “Shepherd My sheep.”  He gives Peter another extraordinary task of great responsibility; to nurture and feed the sheep: a task of responsibility to feed the flock.  To shepherd the sheep is also to exercise leadership, even authority over the flock.  It is the Lord’s acknowledgement of Peter’s great ability to influence others.  He is charging him to be a leader and influencer over the early church.



  • Satan loves to remind us of our past failures to devalue our view of future worth.

  • Jesus extends tenderness in restoring His children, so they learn tenderness to the world and others.

  • Jesus gives great responsibilities to His children for the future of His Church and His Kingdom.


John 21:17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I [l]love You.” Jesus *said to him,

Peter was grieved that He asked the question in this way.  His past actions and denials had revealed his failure to love Jesus much at all.  He had failed in the moment of crisis.

Satan loves to use our past failures to devalue our future worth.

Peter replied, “Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.”

You know all things: 

You know my every failure.

You know my every weakness.

You know my every sin.

You know my stubbornness.

You know my unwillingness to change.

You know my excuses.

You know my selfishness.

(And if none of those hits home then…)

You know my arrogance and pride.

You know that I do not love you the best that I know how.

But since you truly know all things…You know that I do truly love you – no matter how imperfectly.

Jesus continues to restore him…but

Peter had to get to the end of Himself.  Jesus showed him great compassion and forgiveness.

Only when Peter let go of his status as a leader and influencer.

Only when Peter could not hold onto his reputation as one of the inner circle.

Only when Peter had to face his own selfish heart.

When he was fully and completely broken, THEN Jesus said “Tend My Sheep”

One of the defining characteristics of Christ toward the sin and failures of others is TENDERNESS.

He knows your predicament.

He knows your personality.

He knows your peculiarities.

He knows your past,


He still invites us to join Him in His work!

He knows that we will make mistakes.

He knows we may quit sometimes.

He knows that we will not always give our best efforts.

He knows we will get distracted and off task.


He never casts us out.

He never gives up on us

He never considers us anything less than fully worthy of His sacrificial death.

He has great love for us.

He has great dreams for us.

He has great hopes for us.

He has great plans for us.

Because He loves us.

Your Failures are not final

Your future is not finished

Don’t ever Give Up! 

When you’re discouraged – Look Up!

When you're down -  Get Up!

When you’re restored – Step Up!

Your future is not finished

In the movie Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufesne tells his buddy Red that life is a choice: to “get busy living or get busy dying”?

Andy meant that a person can look back on their life and spend their remaining years lamenting the mistakes and poor choices they made when they were young, or one can look to the future as a bright new day, and make the most of what time one has remaining, with energy, hope and optimism.

God’s children more than all others are people of hope, and optimism because

We serve a God who is sovereign over all circumstances

We have been adopted as His children.

We have been forgiven for all our sin (past, present, and future!)

We have been given the Holy Spirit to empower us to live for His glory!

We have a sure and certain future that is both glorious and eternal.

We have been given an incredible opportunity to bring God glory here and now in the manner in which we live our lives.

Get busy dying to self and circumstances

And Get busy living and loving for the glory of God and His son Jesus Christ.

Your Future is not Finished!



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