Jentezen Franklin - Follow Me

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If you have your Bibles, I'd like for you to open them with me for just a few moments today, and I want us to look one more time at the Resurrection Story, but maybe in a way that we can all relate to more than we realize. I want you to go to Luke 5, and these particular verses of Scripture that I'm going to read are not about the Resurrection, but they're headed to it, and I want you to see pre-Crucifixion Resurrection moments, particularly in the life of Simon Peter. They were standing fishing. He was a professional fisher and in Verse 4: "When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let your nets out for the catch.'"

Now, I didn't have time to read it, but they had fished all night and caught nothing, and they were washing their nets, and now Jesus says launch out into the deep, and when they had done this, well, it actually says in Verse 5, "But Simon answered and said to Him, Master, we've toiled all night, caught nothing. Nevertheless, at your word, I'll let down the net. When they had done this, a great number of fish came into the net, and the net was breaking. They had to summon for the partners to come and help them. Both boats were about to sink because they were catching so much, and when Simon Peter saw this", verse 8, "he fell down at Jesus's knees saying depart from me, for I am a sinful man, oh Lord".

This is a very huge moment in the Bible. This is Simon Peter for the first time encountering Jesus Christ personally, and he says I am so ashamed of who I am, the life I've lived. Depart from me. You're too holy, and I'm a wicked person. Verse 9, "and he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of the fish that was taken. So James and John, the sons of Zebedee were the partners with Simon," listen, "and Jesus said to Simon Peter, do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men, So they that have brought their boats to the land," when they brought 'em to them, "forsook all," listen to these words, "and followed Him".

And it says in Matthew 4 that Jesus said to them, he gives you a little bit more insight. It says, "He said to them," same setting but from another writer's opinion of the moment, "follow me". He said those words to Peter. Everybody say follow me. So, this is the first encounter, the first time those words are used, follow me. Now, while you have your Bible, I want you to look with me. I want to go quickly to the Book of Matthew 26. He's following Jesus. We're going to fast forward three years, and we pick the story up now in Verse 31, and this is what it says. "Then Jesus said to all of them," all of the disciples are there, and He said to all of them, "you will be made to stumble because of me this night. For it is written I will strike the shepherd, and the flock will scatter".

It's in the Bible that this is going to happen. He was referring to a prophecy. This is going to happen. All of you are going to forsake me because the Bible prophesied that you would in the Old Testament. Verse 33, "and Peter answered and said to Him, 'Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.' Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this night before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with you,'" Listen to this. I'm going to tell you where I will not mess up, and he gets very specific, "'I will not deny you,' and so said all of the disciples". But then, it really gets sad.

I want you to see it. He says, "I'm never going to deny you. I'm not going to do it. There's some things I will not do. I promise you I'm not going to do it. I will not do it," and then he says, "I'll tell you specifically what I will not do. I will never deny you". The area that I will not do it in, this is the area. I will not specifically deny you, and we're not here to look down and beat up on Simon Peter because I want you to understand that you relate to him more than you realize. How many of you have told the Lord in some weak area of your life I will never do it again? Wait. Keep your hands down. I know. I'm not even finished with the question yet, and the hands are going up. How many of you have said in a weak area of your life I will never do it again, and you did it again? Let me see your hand. It's a 100%.

So, how many of you would agree with this little sermon that we can relate to Simon Peter because there's things, number one, I said I'd never do, and I did them, and then there's things that I said I'd never do again, and I've done them again. And what's amazing is when you start reading the story... Now, look in Matthew 26:69. The Bible says that they arrest Jesus, same night, take Him to the courtyard, Verse 69. "Now, Peter sat outside the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him saying 'You're with those of Jesus of Galilee.'" Verse 70, here it goes now, "but he denied it before them all saying, 'I do not know what you're talking about.'"

So, here comes a girl, same night that he said I won't do it. Here comes a girl saying you're one of them, and he instantly in the very area he said he wouldn't do it said I'll never deny. Aren't you one of them? I deny that. I am not one of them. It gets worse. Watch this. Verse 71, "And when he had gone out to the gateway another girl saw him, and said, 'Hey, you're one of those. You're one of those fellows that hangs out with Jesus of Nazareth.'" Verse 72, "but he again denied..." Watch. He goes deeper, "with an oath". Before, he just denied. Have you ever noticed that? He denied with an oath. When an oath is a reference to a legal term, it would be equivalent or a lot like when you go to court, and say, you know, put your hand on the Bible. "Do you swear to tell the truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God".

So, when he was denying it, he was saying I'm willing to not just deny Jesus. I will swear an oath to it that I don't know Him. That's two. Well, Verse 73, a little later, those who stood by came up and said to Peter, he's having a bad night. "Said to Peter, 'Surely, you're one of them your speech betrays you,'" Verse 74. "Then he began to curse and swear saying, 'I do not know that man.'" I mean, he's gone from denying to denying with an oath. Now he's gone to cursing. I don't know the blankety-blank man. I don't know the blankety-blank-blank-blank. I don't know Him, and he's denying and cursing three times, and then notice what happens in Verse 74, and "Immediately...", this is such a sad Scripture, "Immediately, the rooster crowed".

Notice Verse 75, "And Peter remembered the words to Jesus who said to him, 'Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.' So, he went out and wept bitterly". I want you to see something maybe you've never seen in the story and it's in Luke 22:60. It's the same occasion, but from a different writer and he's saying here's what I noticed: "And Peter said to the man, the last time, 'I don't know him.'" The rooster crowd, "While he was speaking," listen to verse 61, "And the Lord turned..." Right after the rooster crowd, that's verse 61: "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter..."

And when He looked at Peter He had black eyes, He had a busted nose, He had bruised lips, He had streams of blood pouring from the crown of thorns that had been jammed on his head, and they had beat Jesus. And when the Bible said Jesus turned when the rooster crowed and looked Peter right in the eyes. Can you only imagine how he felt? He said, I will never deny you, I didn't just deny you. I denied you with an oath, then I denied you cursing, and now the rooster crows, and right after the rooster crows Jesus with black eyes, and bloody nose, and bruised lips, and streams of blood, looks right in the eyes of Simon Peter. "And he remembered the words" the rest of that verse said, "of how He said to him, 'Before the rooster crows you will deny me.'" Verse 62 is really sad: "And he went and wept bitterly".

I think we need to remember this because so many of us start out eagerly when the Lord calls us, and yes, I'll follow you. Maybe it was when you were a child. You said, "I'll follow you," and you love the Lord, and you follow the Lord, but there's an interesting verse in Matthew 26. It said he followed him in Verse 58: "Peter followed him at a distance". This is huge. He starts out following him, and Luke 5, you remember when we started this story, follow me, and he's following him, but then something happened through the years where he's following Him from a distance.

He used to be tight. He used to be right on Him and under Him. He forsook everything. He was the main thing in his life, and he loved him with all of his heart, but now, the years have worn away, the relationship between Simon Peter and Christ, and now the Bible says he's still following Him, and he still loves Him, but he's following Him from a distance. He said there's a lot of people that will come to free chapel, and they love me, and they decided to follow me, maybe when they were a child. Maybe they gave their heart to the Lord when they were 20 or 30 or whatever, but the years have brought a lot of distance and they're following me from a distance, and things that they said they would never do, they do them again and again and again, but they still love me.

They still in their heart want to follow me, and I want you to tell them I love them. I want you to tell them that I've made a way for them. I want you to tell them I'm not angry or mad at them. I know that we were close, and now they follow me from a distance, and tell them that I miss them. Your bible said that Peter decided in John 21, I think it's the third Verse, I'm going back to fishing. When he said I'm going fishing, he said I'm going back to who I used to be before I met Christ. I've blown it. I've messed up. I've failed. I'm going back to who I used to be because He wouldn't want me. I looked in His eyes, and I denied Him. Who could ever get over a moment like a failure like I've had, so I'm just going back.

I was a fisherman before He ever called me, and He said follow me, and I'm just going back to who I used to be and that's who I am. I've tried that stuff, and I couldn't live it, and I'm going back, and he went back to that boat. I love this story. Now listen. In John 21 the Bible said that while they were on the boat fishing... Listen. It's the same miracle. Jesus is about to set up the same miracle. Have you ever noticed this? It's the same miracle. It happens twice. They fished all night, and they're coming in, and I love it because the Scripture said that Jesus appeared in His resurrected body after the Crucifixion on the beach and they were about 100 yards out. It's still dark. There's some fog. They see a figure on the beach. They can't make out who it is, and the voice screams out over the water, "Hey, did you catch anything to eat? Have you had anything to eat"?

Listen to these words. "When the morning had come," verse 4, "He stood on the shore, and Jesus said to them, 'Children, have you had any food?'" They didn't know who they were talking to. They shouted back, "No". We fished all night. Does this sound familiar? We fished all night, and we didn't catch anything, and the voice says back, cast your net on the other side. It's de ja vu.

One of them turns and says, wait a minute. We've heard this before. We've been here before, and they threw the net on the other side, and the Bible said they caught 154 large fish and the boat began to sink because the fish were so big, and suddenly, John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, turned to Peter and he said, do you know who that is? You remember the first time this happened, and he looks and turns around for Peter, and the Bible said Peter had dove in the water, and he's swimming 100 yards back to Jesus. He comes up out of the water, and Jesus has fish on the fire and bread and cooking a meal of restoration saying, come on, I've been waiting on you. You don't have to bring anything. I've got it all done. It's finished. It's finished.

Why did Jesus do the same miracle? Because he was saying it's okay. I knew you were going to mess up, and I'm giving you an opportunity to go back and start all over again. The reason He did the same miracle is He wanted them to start all over again. I'm giving you a chance to recommit your life. I'm giving you a shot at total forgiveness and restoration, and then He asked Peter, do you love me? He denied Him three times, and He asked Him three times in a row, do you love me? Lord, you know I love you. Do you love me? Yes, I love you. Do you love me? Yes, I love you. Lord, you know all things. You know I love you.

The reason that Jesus kept asking Him is not to convince Jesus that Peter loved Him. He was saying I want you to listen to what you're telling me. I know you love me, but you think because you've messed up that you don't love me. I know even though you've been messing up and doing it over and over again. I know in your heart you want to follow me, and you love me. You just don't have any consistency, and you're following me, listen, from a distance. You're following me from a distance. I think that describes so many people who come to church on Easter and that's about it.

They love the Lord. They said yes to the Lord somewhere, but they follow Him from a distance, and they're in a cycle of I just can't live it. Jesus went on to tell Him in John 21. Listen to these words. He said you're going to die. There's coming a day when you're an old man. They're going to take you and prepare you for a crucifixion, and you're going to be crucified just like me in Verse 19. Then He spoke signifying by what death he would glorify God, and when He had spoken this, He said to him, look at these words.

Follow me. In other words, He's saying I know many years ago the first time I asked you to follow me, you said I'll follow you, and you meant it, but you fell behind, and you followed me from a distance, and you've had a horrible, sinful failure in your life, and I through my death and my resurrection have provided another invitation to you to say recommit. I'm saying the exact same words said at the same miracle so you could start all over again. I don't care about your past because, by the way, you're the very one. The same voice, mouth, and tongue that denied me three times. It's the same voice I'm going to use on the day of Pentecost to birth the church. It's the same voice in Acts 3 that's going to say to a lame man, silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I unto you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Rise up and walk, and he leaped and stood and ran through the temple.

It's the same voice that's going to stand after they threatened Him not to use the name, and He's going to say neither in Acts 4 is there any other name whereby men can be saved but the name of Jesus. He's the same one. The one who denied me three times and looked into my eyes, and the enemy told you. The rooster crowing told you. Every morning you'll only live in shame and condemnation, but you're the same one in Acts 5 that they're going to take the sick people and lay them out in the streets in hopes that you under such an anointing will walk by and your shadow will touch the sick, and the sick will be healed.

What I'm saying to you today is when I gave me heart to the Lord when I was 16, I said I'll never deny you, and I didn't and haven't with my words, but I have with my works. I have with my deeds. And there have been times when I said I will never do it again, and I have done it again, and you have too, and the rooster crows and says God can't use you, and you're not good enough and even while we were praising the Lord, some of you because you've been following from a distance. You love the Lord. You wouldn't be here, you wouldn't come, you wouldn't show up, you may be living in sin right now, but something in you says I really do love you. I know I'm distant from you, and I don't like this, but I messed up, but I do love you, and the power of what I'm preaching right now is what Peter could not live when he first met Jesus.

Then He met the resurrected Jesus. The Resurrection made the difference. The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ says I through my grace will empower you, and you'll still struggle, and you'll still have sin, and you'll still deny me some and do things you shouldn't do, but you won't be happy and content to be distant from me. As a matter of fact, the closer you get to Him, I can see my shadow. That's why the Bible said he that dwells under the shadow of the Most High God will abide under the shadow of the Almighty in the secret place. He doesn't want you at distance because when you're at a distance, the crowing of the rooster will defeat you, and some of you tried to praise God this morning.

You heard a little cock-a-doodle-doo. What have you been doing? Why haven't you been here all year? Cock-a-doodle-doo. You haven't been living for God much, but you love Him, and you said I'll follow you, and you're following Him from a distance or you wouldn't have come back to church this morning, and we're not here to beat up on you. We're here to say I can relate. What I'm saying to you is you don't have to live with the crowing of the rooster when there's a resurrected Lord who is saying you can start over today, and here's what I've felt at every campus. Here's what I felt.

All some of you have been needing is a chance to recommit. It's going to reignite the fire. You know this is where your family ought to be every Sunday. You know this is right. You know you're doing what's right. Your soul is being fed right now. You feed your mind. You feed your body. You've got cars. You've got stuff, but something in your soul is craving and starving for what you're in right now, and the Father is not mad at you. Jesus is looking at you not saying do you love me to convince Himself. He knows your heart. He's wanting you to realize you do love me, and because you made a mistake, it doesn't mean I have canceled my plans and my assignment and my dream over you and your family. As a matter of fact, I have provided a miracle that you're back again so you can recommit to my invitation to follow Me again.
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