Date: April 15, 2012
Bible Text: John 21:1-11 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
John 21. The title of my message tonight is in the form of a question, and is taken from verse 5. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
We need disciples today. We need people that will go deeper, not just people that say, “I go to Fairhaven. I’m a Fundamentalist. I got to Fairhaven, I’m a soulwinner. Or I go to Fairhaven; I have a good family.” No, it’s more than, “I go here.” It’s what do you do? We again need to go deeper than just being a Christian.
In John 21 it says, After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
Children, have ye any meat? That’s my question for you. And if you’ll sit there, ask yourself about it. Do you talk about being a bible-believing Christian, or do you have something from serving God?
A key word in the life of every child of God should be service. From the moment we’re born again by the Spirit of God, we should have a great desire to work for Jesus Christ. Remember when Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, his words were, “lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” When’s the last time you said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Or are you always worried about what people think of you, worried about what you’re going to eat next, worried about your leisure? When Jesus was only twelve years old, he looked at his mother and father and said, “Don’t’ you know I must be about my Father’s business?” That was a twelve year old. In John 9:4, Jesus reminds us that the night cometh when no man can work. And it’s coming soon. What I talked about earlier, if something’s not done, we’re not going to be able to work in America as God orders us to. Some of us are getting older. We’re going to lay down our tools for the last time. We’re going to turn out the lights for the last time. We’re not going to lift our head from the pillow. Now, I know some people don’t like to think about this. I do. I’m not going to lift my head from the pillow not too far in the future. The key word in all of our lives should be service. The purpose of our life should be to serve Him. In light of Calvary, our goal should be to serve Him. Look at those nail-pierced hands and feet. Look at the thorn-crowned brow and the ripped back from the whip. See Him with His outstretched hands and He asked, “Won’t you serve me?” You say, “I belong to a fundamental, Bible-believing church…” I didn’t ask that; Jesus didn’t ask that. He says, “Won’t you serve me?” Is there a greater motive to serve Him than the shed blood of Christ on the cross? In the light of Hell, we should desire to serve Him. Look down in that pit, listen to the screaming as they burn for an eternity in that darkness. Thank God not for anything you and I have done, but by the grace of God, we’re saved from that. Isn’t it a great motive to serve Jesus? But also, look at Heaven with its streets of gold and pearly gates. I think of my parents’ up there in their mansion right now. So many of your parents and our friends have gone ahead, and they’re waiting for us. Someday we’re going to go to heaven, and it’s more than a figment of our imagination. Out of appreciation for heaven, will you serve Him?
A young boy was drowning, and a man risked his life to save him, and after he pulled him onto the shore, the boy grabbed his legs and wouldn’t let him go, and he just kept on thanking him over and over again. The man looked down and simply said, “Son, see to it that you’re worth saving.” And I would say to us as Christians, we like to think we’re something. If we’re right with God, we know we’re nothing. Do you want to know if you’re right with God? Do you think that you’re really doing something for God? If you think that, you’re not right with God. A key word in every one of our lives should be service. But wait. We see in the Bible that there’s a right way to serve and a wrong way to serve. We must do God’s work God’s way. We must follow the plan He put in Scripture, and if we’re going to serve God the way we’re taught in the Bible, it will be done out of a heart of real love, gratitude. Realizing what the grace of God has accomplished in our lives, it ought to make us love Him. Some people flip from church to church, from place to place, they don’t serve God. They don’t want to serve God. They’re going to do it their way. They come to church when it’s convenient. They serve God when it’s convenient. If there’s a passage in the Bible where we see His disciples working on Scripturally, it’s our text in John 21. They were in the wrong place, they had the wrong spirit, and the result was empty nets. And when I think of empty nets, I think of failure, don’t you? I think of defeat. I think of a wasted life, and there’s absolutely nothing—, you can be rich, they can call you “Sir.” People can think you’re a success, but if you haven’t given your life over, if you don’t have a ministry where you put your hand to the plow and don’t look back, you’re a failure. Don’t you want your nets to be full? I want the nets of our church to be full. Door-to-door soulwinning—our friends, our neighbor, people we bump into—as we have an invitation, I want to see people come forward. That comes from work. Every person that walked the isle this morning was invited by somebody. Maybe it was a bus worker who really worked their head off, maybe someone praying, but every person that walked the isle was a result of somebody’s work. What about the nets of our youth ministries? Our teens living for God--that doesn’t come easy. Pastor Damron and Mrs. Damron have beat their brains in to produce the teens that we’ve seen living for God. You say, “I’ve done it too.” Yes, some of you have. But I’ll tell you what, don’t you want to see our children given to God? I’m sick and tired of some of our people, and I mentioned Pastor and Mrs. Damron, and I’m sure the very people who didn’t do right got the hair on the back of their neck up. Raising kids that are half way Christians, oh they’ll be in the church, and they’ll marry somebody in the church, but what are they doing? What are they doing? How many souls do they see saved? What are they doing? You know it’s my desire for the nets of our youth and our kids—children in our school—making decisions to be full. Not to be full—boys wearing ties and girls wearing skirts—but full of young people, who whether they’re in fulltime service or not are given over to God and every decision is made with that in mind.
I hate the sound of those words—empty nets. Can you live with them? Don’t you want your children to live for God, and marry godly people, and raise godly children? I want Jennifer, Sabrina, Jake, and Clint, they’re not here anymore, but Elijah, Ezekiel, and little Sharon to grow up and marry at least as strong a people as they are, and raise their kids, and generation after generation. More than pastoring this church, I believe that the greatest effect I can have on this earth is my children and my grandchildren and their children and generation after generation growing up and living for God. Don’t you want that? Do you want empty nets? I want the nets of my home to be full. In II Timothy 4:8 it says, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
In II Corinthians 5:10, it says, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Don’t you want to receive a crown? Must I go an empty-handed, thus to meet my Redeemer? I don’t want to have empty nets at the judgment seat of Christ. We’ll all answer for the way we plan, and we prepare, and we pray. You take next Sunday, if you don’t do anything, than nobody is going t o get saved next Sunday, got it. You take the week after—the Preaching Conference—if you don’t pray, and you don’t make sure you’re right with God, really right, really want something. It’s sad when I look at some of you old people out there. Wake up. I’m old, I’m screaming up here. Wake up.
We’ve got something to do. You say, “We’re going to have a Bible conference next week, and I hope I get fed.” I hope you choke. Pray. Pray hard. Get your life clean. Make decisions. Rock the boat, men. Rock the boat. Let’s be serious about our service. Right service to Jesus Christ requires a totally yielded heart toward Jesus Christ. We need the kind of heart that Caleb had when we read, “..he wholly followed the Lord his God.” It was not the kind of heart we see in the disciples in chapter 21. Jesus has died, and He was resurrected. You say, “Well, if I were there, I’d be excited.” You are there. Don’t you believe what you say you believe? Why aren’t you excited? They saw Him in the upper room. But He doesn’t have their heart. I’m not asking tonight if you believe in Jesus, but I’m asking does He have your heart? Does He have your life? Does He own you, or do you let that sin fester? The hearts of these disciples were cold so that they were not prepared to do the work of God. The psalmist said in Psalm 119, “with my whole heart have I sought thee.” That wasn’t true of these disciples. And that’s not true of many that are sitting in this auditorium. Hebrews 13:17 says some day I will give account of you as I stand before God.
That’s why I preach as hard as I do. I’ll not only give account of myself, but I’ll give an account for you, and I worry about some of you. There’s never any evidence of desire to see souls saved. Never. Isn’t that something? I believe in Heaven, I believe in Hell, I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross, but never any evidence that you want to see somebody saved. You’re more interested in what people think than what’s done for God. There’s such a lack of sincerity of the things of God. I sometime beg and plead and I see nothing in some of you. Nothing. And it hurts me as it must’ve hurt Jesus at the Sea. Look at verse 1. “After these things…”
After what things? After what had just happened in the upper room. They had seen Jesus walk through doors. He stood in the midst. Thomas had said He had to prove that He was alive, and Jesus held out His hands and said, “Here. Put your finger in the holes in my hands.” You say, “I’d never have to say that.” Oh no? Look at yourself in the mirror. Jesus said, “Put your hand in my side.” Does He have to say that to you? What are you doing? Jesus also had given them the great commission in that upper room. As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you. They heard the challenge of Jesus Christ to go out and win the world, but here in this chapter, they were fishing for fish when they were supposed to be fishing for men.
Your greatest service in this church should be fishing for men. Being a Sunday School teacher doesn’t take the place, being a Christian school teacher certainly doesn’t take the place, giving can’t take it’s place, living a clean live doesn’t take it’s place. Jesus had told His disciples, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” If you’re following Him, you’re a fisher of men. I look at John, just as an example. Does John love fishing for men more than fishing for blue gill? He’ll answer to God. I’m not trying to make John feel bad, but it’s just an example. Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, but they were deaf spiritually, and it never hit home. Even after He was resurrected from the grave, and some of you have been saved for years and years, and it hasn’t hit home yet. You’ve not let it get into your heart how important it is for Jesus to allow you to tell people. I go back, John, how old were you when you got saved? Living the life of a bum and worse. And I won’t go into it all, but Jesus saved him. And all he has to do is go tell people what Jesus did in his life. We all have that kind of testimony. Many of us have not let it get into our heart. Verse 3 says to me that these men were more hungry for the meat here than they were for the spiritual. Peter wanted some fish, and the others said, “We’ll go with you too.” It’s a sad day when your stomach or money or sports is more important than your neighbor’s soul. When you heart is more into your business than His business. But for some, golf is more important, more fun, for some it’s their baseball team. I don’t know how anybody could follow the Cubs, or the White Sox. Your manager said he loved Castro, and you loved him. That’s what good baseball is. You said, “He left.” Yeah. You’re fishing on the sea when you should be fishing for men.
But then, they were more devoted to an earthly leader than their spiritual one. Again, Peter said he wanted fish and the others said, We’ll go with you.” Peter’s influence was so powerful that the other men decided to forsake their work and their calling and follow Him. You’d better watch who you follow. You’d better watch the way you lead, especially you dads. “Well I think this.” That’s because you have sin in your heart. “Let’s only go so far.” That’s because you have sin in your heart. You’ll answer to God. There’s not one child in this church who shouldn’t be raised to be a strong soldier for God, and the only difference is their dad. What kind of leader are you, dad? Don’t just talk religious, and put leisure and sports and your job before God. We’re going to answer to God for those we lead and those we follow. The only right heart is that one that follows God with fire and excitement and energy about the things of His work. If you’re saved, you’re delivered from Hell. Amen. You’re on your way to Heaven. Amen. Then you should give and attend and talk right. But is your heart hot or is it even warm?
One of the greatest inconsistencies in the world is a hot mouth and a cold heart. The greatest reason so many are going to Hell is we stay cold most of the time. We in full-time Christian service can get so involved in the administration and details and just let soulwinning go. Right service for Jesus demands a right heart.
But secondly, right service for Jesus demands an inward honesty, a truthfulness. Psalm 51:6 reads, God desires truth in the inward heart. God demands truth about that sin in our heart. Isaiah 54:14 Truth is fallen in the streets. I see very few Christians who will really be honest with themselves today in our church. We all tell ourselves, “You’ll be okay.” Yeah. Look at the results. Look at verse 5. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
Jesus confronts his disciples and forces them to face themselves. Do you have any meat? No. Do you have any meat? You say, “I’m okay. I’m as good as anybody.” Do you have any meat? These men were experienced fishermen. Their dads and granddads were fishermen. Their livelihood, their second home was on the Sea of Galilee. It must have been so embarrassing. “Do you have any fish?” They had been all night fishing. They had to say, “No.” No. Now please be honest as I ask you that question, “Children, have ye any meat?” I am speaking to some tonight who have been saved for 20, 25, 30 years. You could spout exact doctrine, but do you have any meat? Some have grown up in Christian homes, and gone to Christian school all of their lives, but do you have any meat? I am speaking to those who teach in the Christian school, or that are deacons and Sunday School teachers, but, ‘Children, do you have any meat?’ Be honest. Do you have empty nets? How many souls are in your nets? Honestly, are your children, do they really, if they have honestly been raised up to live for God, are they godly? Or are they going to follow their aunts and uncles and chase the money? Are you sincerely praying, not just that you’re not embarrassed by your family, but do you really want them to be given over to God? Are you praying? Do you pray? Did you pray today? That’s enough to ask for today. This morning, did you get up and did you honestly pray, “God, would you bless that souls would be saved.” Did you pray for the Preaching Conference? Be honest with yourself. Empty nets or full nets?
I remember a young lady when I was growing up, who had polio. Now, you younger people don’t know about this. You that are my age, you know, about the iron lung, don’t you. This young lady, it looked like a casket to me, she couldn’t breathe without it, just sticking out. And when she wasn’t in that, she was in a wheel chair, very weak. But what impressed me, was what a vibrant soulwinner she was. Now, we can and should make soulwinning very important in our lives, but here was a girl with a scrawny, skinny, weak, paralyzed body, but she had full nets. There were always doctors and nurses being saved. There were always people being saved. How are your nets? We’ve got to have a right heart. We’ve got to be honest.
And then third, right service for Jesus Christ demands help from God. Turn back a couple pages to John 15:5. As we read John 21 we see that these men had forgotten so much of what Jesus had taught them. They had forgotten what Jesus said in John 15:5 I am the vine; ye are the branches…
Well you say, “Preacher, explain what He meant.” Some people are always saying, “I don’t understand the Bible.” And I will say, I don’t understand everything about prophecy, but I understand everything the Bible teaches about our life and what we ought to do. Now that’s very clear. What did He mean? He meant, “Without me ye can do nothing.” And some of you go through morning after morning and never have a real devotion time. Without me ye can do nothing. No wonder you fail. Without Him, we can’t do a thing right. We’ll stumble in our personal lives, we’ll get discouraged, but most of all, we can do nothing lasting. We can do nothing with an eternal value. If you labor in the flesh, you’ll get what the flesh can accomplish. You’ll have a fleshly marriage. You’ll have fleshly children. They may look just like everybody else, but they’re full of flesh. You’ll have fleshly discontentment. You’ll have nothing. You can do nothing powerful, nothing dynamic, nothing truly spiritual. It’s why some of you look so sour, because you don’t really believe because you never see anything. You don’t try it. You do nothing to show this lost world that Jesus Christ is alive and He lives in your heart. We have a responsibility to prove to northwest Indiana that Jesus Christ is alive, and so many of us are poor advertisers for a live Christ. We can’t hardly come to church. What do you think is going to happen to your kids? You’ll answer to God. Jesus had to reprove this to these men in chapter 21. He had to prove to them again that he was alive. In their discouragement He filled their nets. It’s amazing to me how if we really give our lives over to God no matter how we’ve displeased Him, He forgives, He’s merciful, and He wants to show Himself. But we must have His help. We can’t do His work alone. He said, “Cast your nets on the right side of the ship.” And when they did, they were full. Won’t you make sure right now that you’re right with Him? You know if you’re right with Him or not. Some of you just sit here. You’ve got your sin, you’ve got your pet sin, and you’re just going to go. You don’t care about your kids, you don’t care about souls. When you try to live for God with Him, it’s vain, it’s a void existence. How could anyone be spiritual and not walk with Christ? We’ve got a lot of people that are fishing on the wrong side of the boat. They sing the songs right, they dress right, they talk right, but they’re dead, asking for answered prayer with sin in their heart. Some of you want business success so bad, that your heart is there. Some are depending on others to produce godly children. Are you fishing on the wrong side of the boat? I believe that these disciples were discourages. They were following the wrong leader. Some of you are pitiful the way you search for somebody that agrees with you. I, as the pastor, I see people say, “There ought not to be cliques.” There are always cliques in churches. There are those that are really warm and hot for God, there’s those that are totally backslidden in sin, and then there’s those that are lukewarm and they just pat each other on the back and hand together, and you promote one another. When Jesus told them to cast the net again, they did, and He filled it. My advice to you it be sure you’re right with God and that you cast and keep on casting. Don’t get discouraged. It’s Jesus’ job to bring in the fish. That’s his job. It’s our job to cast and to cast. It’s His job to bring in the increase. And some day you’re going to face Jesus and He’s going to ask, “Son, have you any fish?” What are you going to say?