Saturday, April 22, 2017

What’s Next?


One week ago we celebrated the anniversary of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has been approximately 1,987 years since Jesus was crucified, buried and raised to life again. Each year we get closer to His second coming and the rapture of the Church. But why has God waited so long to bring this age to a close and to begin the millennial reign of Christ as King upon the earth? Consider this:

·        The Apostles of Jesus imagined that Jesus would set up His earthly Kingdom prior to the crucifixion. In other words, they never expected Jesus to die.
·        Once Jesus was buried the Apostles and those who believed He was the Messiah were disappointed, afraid and confused. Although Jesus had told them, as yet they did not understand, that Jesus was going to be resurrected from the dead on the third day after his death.
·        Even after several credible and trusted witnesses reported that they had seen the risen Lord, the Apostles still did not believe.
·        All of their hopes were shattered and they no longer expected to see the Kingdom of God established on the earth.
·        When the tomb was discovered to be empty and they could not find the body of Jesus, those close-knit followers of Christ debated among themselves and questioned others as to where His body had been moved. They wanted to visit His grave to pay their respects.
·        After Jesus appeared alive to 10 of the Apostles that first Sunday evening and then to the 11 Apostles one week later, on the next Sunday evening, and showed them His nail scared hands and the piercing wound in His side, they obeyed His earlier instructions to go to the Galilee where they would see Him again.
·        If God had chosen to immediately set up the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth at that time there would have only been perhaps 120 to 500 Believers in heaven. God wants and has prepared for a large family … 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands upon thousands from every nation, tribe, kindred and  tongue upon the earth.

Immediately after the Resurrection of Jesus that first few weeks, the Apostles were still primarily focused on Jesus setting up His earthly Kingdom. They were ready for Him to be recognized, deliver His people and reign as King on the earth.

Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

As I said earlier, when Jesus died on the cross it shattered the Apostle’s world … they didn’t know what to do so they just sat dumbfounded in that upper room in Jerusalem. After Jesus appeared alive to them twice in the first 8 days they were elated to see Him and talk to Him but they still had no clue as to what they were supposed to do.
·        Jesus told them to go to Galilee where they would see Him again. But, so what???
·        Was this to be the extent of their lives and service? Were they to go from town to town waiting on Jesus to manifest Himself?
·        What was next?

It is at this point we catch up with seven of the Apostles in John chapter 21. They are sitting and waiting on Jesus to show up in a village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. They had walked from Jerusalem … the journey took several days and now they were growing restless and perhaps a little hungry as well.
·        No doubt the other villagers, some close friends and family members were as confused about their future than were they.
·        These friends had not had the personal experience of seeing Jesus alive.
·        Perhaps the people around the Galilee thought these Disciples of Jesus were stupid, or crazy, perhaps liars, or maybe just deceived …
·        Some of the Apostles had families to feed and take care of – and you might well imagine that the ministry resources it took to pay bills and buy groceries for all those followers had dried up a bit.
·        Offerings now were probably at an all-time low!
·        Yet, they waited … just how long can a person wait?

John 21  NKJV
1 ¶  After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:
2  Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
3  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
4  But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5  Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”
6  And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.
8  But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.
9  Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
10  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
11  Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
12  Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”  — knowing that it was the Lord.
13  Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
14  This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Some things to notice about this passage when considering what’s next:
1.   The test of waiting on God
a.   What we do while we wait can determine
                                           i.    How long we wait
                                          ii.    If we are productive while we wait
b.   Only God can determine the right time
2.   Our decisions influence others
a.   Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
b.   The six others said, “We’re going with you.”
c.   Our decisions influence others.
3.   He knows the answer before He asks
a.   Have you any food?
b.   Then why does He ask?
c.   So that you can know the answer too.
4.   When we confess our emptiness He opens our hearts
a.   No!
b.   Nothing opens a heart like emptying ourselves before Him.
c.   There is such potential in an empty vessel …
5.   Everyone has their part
a.   Peter swam to shore alone while others brought a boat and the net filled with fish
b.   Peter was not more spiritual because he got there first.
c.   Someone always must do the work.

They were excited to see Jesus … but … What’s Next?

Jesus begins to admonish Peter with words that have continued to give direction to Believers in every generation for the past 1,987 years. These words answered the questions of the Apostles and they continue to point us to what’s next in our lives as well …

John 21
15 ¶  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16  He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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 love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Until Jesus returns our duty is clear … Feed and take care of those Jesus loves … and … He loves the whole world!