John 21:1-22

Have you ever wished you could start over? Children want “do overs” in
their games when they do not do something right the first time. Golfers
know that a mulligan is a chance to redeem a wayward shot. But these
are games. What about life? Is there any hope for starting over
considering all the messes we have made?

Simon Peter was a man who needed to start over. Peter had promised
Jesus that even if everyone else forsook him, he never would. However,
within a short time after making that bold statement, Peter denied he
even knew Jesus three times. If anyone needed to start over, Simon
Peter did. But what about you and me? Can we start over? What does it
mean to start over?

I. Starting over means we face our failures (v. 15-17)

One of the hardest things to do is to claim responsibility for our
failures. The typical response when faced with a failure is to blame
someone or something other than ourselves. This masks the problem. The
fact that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him was
intentional, because Peter had denied him three times. Jesus wants us
to face our failures. We need to own them, then Jesus can forgive and

II. Starting over means we set priorities (v. 15)

Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loved him more than “these things.” Jesus
could be referring to fishing and his former life as a fisherman. Or he
could be referring to the other disciples and their love for Jesus.
Either way, Peter is being confronted about his priorities. Jesus
claims primacy over all our priorities. Vocation, family, friends, all
find their rightful place if Jesus is number one in a believer’s life.
What are your priorities? Will you respond to Jesus by giving him first
place in your life?

III. Starting over means we are accountable for others (v. 15-17)

Individualism is a strong element in our culture. Taken to extremes,
this concept is devastating. Simon Peter’s individualism led him away
from the Lord’s plans for his life. Now, Jesus charged him with the
care of others. Three times Peter was told to feed the Lord’s sheep.
Starting over means we shed our individualism and become accountable to
Jesus by caring for others.

IV. Starting over means we accept hardship (v. 18)

Jesus made a statement about Simon Peter’s future. Yes, he would be a
leader among God’s people but he would also face hardship. Things
beyond his control would be a part of Peter’s future. The same is true
for believers today. Yes, we can start over but that does not mean
freedom from difficulties. How we deal with the hardships that come our
way determine our effectiveness in the kingdom of God.

V. Starting over means we follow Jesus (v. 19-22)

Peter was curious about the future of the beloved disciple (John).
Jesus was quick to point out to him that it really was not any of his
concern. Peter was to keep his focus on Jesus and follow him. The same
is true for believers today. Whether anybody else does or not, we are
to follow Jesus keeping our focus on him. Wherever He leads, we should

Yes, you and I can start over! With God all things are possible. Other
people may have no hope for us. We ourselves may feel like there is no
hope. The Devil certainly does not want us to start over. But be of
good cheer, Jesus is here today just like he was with Simon Peter on
the lakeshore. Life can begin again. Let’s start over.

Sermon brief provided by: Mike McGough, Professor of Preaching, Canadian
Southern Baptist Seminary, Cochrane, Alberta

Share This On: