Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Christianto Silitonga, Deputy Head of Cell Group Ministry, GBI Gatot Subroto, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 22 October 2017
IT’S THE LORD!
After Jesus’s resurrection, He showed Himself to His disciples several times. The disciples did not recognize him after having seen Him more than once at that point. In John 21:1-14, Jesus appeared for the third time to His followers with the Miraculous Catch. The disciples continued working throughout the night to catch as much fish as they could, but caught nothing.
1. Do not give up or lose hope
Sometimes we cannot see the answer to our seemingly hopeless situation. It is inevitable to experience stress and pressure in our life. We may be short of one more prayer, one more act of faith, or one step away from a breakthrough. Pastor Silitonga experienced a period of financial difficulty during his business venture; he did not receive orders to generate income from his business. One day, as he ordered lunch from KFC, he received an extra pack of fries, which the cashier explained was part of a promotion. As he prayed to thank God for the food, God reminded about the favor of the fries. God spoke to Pastor Silitonga to hope for a miracle and favor of God. The Lord led him to call one of his former clients whose last order was four years ago and within 15 minutes Pastor Silitonga closed a deal that was sufficient for his whole family to survive for the whole year.
2. Miracle is the wage of obedience
The disciples did not negotiate with God, but they immediately obeyed, and as a result, a miracle took place. When God asks us to do something, do it immediately. Instant obedience is required from us even though we do not understand with our logic. Trust God instead of questioning Him at all times. God will not ask us to do something to bring harm to us. Don’t lose the momentum because the Lord we serve is a God of now and the future. God works beyond our logic because He is a big God, whom our brain cannot contain. Some time ago, Pastor Silitonga’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with brain tumor. The Holy Spirit reminded him to travel every day to the hospital to pray for her (even though it was a four-hour travel from his home to Jakarta). He obeyed without questioning God. Although all the doctors (including professors) were convinced that the biopsy looked like a tumor, the lab results showed it as an infection! Peter and his friends had been fishing the whole night without a single catch, yet they obeyed without questioning.
3. Focus our life on Jesus
John 21:7 “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” Peter did not focus on the blessings of 153 large fish but focused on Jesus. Peter had denied Jesus three times but when Peter realized it was the Lord Jesus, he immediately jumped into the water to catch Jesus. Jesus is a God of second chances. He did not look back on Peter’s denial. When God forgives us, He also forgets our iniquities. In John 21:15-21, the Lord entrusted Peter to take care of God’s sheep.
In the airplane, just before landing, the lights will be dimmed so that the passengers’ eyes are acclimatized to the dark interior and can only see the lighted path towards emergency exit. This is for the safety of the passengers because when the interior of the plane is bright, and if an emergency occurs plunging the aircraft into darkness, the passengers may not be able to locate the emergency exits. Likewise, sometimes the burdens of our life can overpower and dim the light of Christ. Calm ourselves and take time to enter into God’s presence so when we open our eyes, we can see our Savior pointing to the EXIT gate of our life problems.
That night when the disciples caught nothing, it was a graphic portrayal of barrenness. They had done what they thought was the right thing but they experienced utter disappointment. This teaches us one of the central lessons of discipleship--apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Keep trusting and relying on God because the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. God is ready to pour out His favors and miracles in our lives as we focus on Him and obey His commandments. Our God is good and let us focus on Him, for He is a miracle-working God.