Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Life After The Let Down

Steven Furtick - Life After The Let Down

Steven Furtick - Life After The Let Down (Easter Message)
TOPICS: Easter

Beautiful, lift your hands. Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior of the world, we came today to crown you. Not like you need our crown to be worthy, but we just want to join in with what heaven already knows, what has already been demonstrated by your sinless life, your unjust death, your unprecedented resurrection from the dead, your ascension into heaven, where we know that now you are seated at the right hand of God. We lift our hands to acknowledge that there is no one higher than you, no one greater than you. We lift our hands to acknowledge that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, and when we proclaim the name of Jesus, we are seated in heavenly places with you today, forgiven of our sin, filled with your Spirit, assured of our place in your family, and called to be your friends.

Now, God, I pray for the sleeper to wake up. I thank you that today is a divine wake-up call. God, I pray that today, as we have been singing the truth of the gospel, that people have been shaking, and they can't hit the "snooze" button one more time, because the King is here, and resurrection is real, and nothing is impossible for him who believes. So, have your way in this house, God. We're full of faith. We give you praise and honor and glory. In Jesus' name, amen.

Clap those hands and give him praise. Good to see you. Welcome, all of our eFam around the world. Happy Easter to our eFam all over the world. Good grief. If I told you where everyone was joining us from, you would think I was just making stuff up, but when they go on the chat and say, "Here's where I'm watching from…" Do that right now. Those of you watching on YouTube and Facebook, let us know where you're joining us from. We're from the country. We're here from Charlotte, North Carolina, just to welcome you into the presence of God. It's such an exciting day. Chris, I rounded the corner, and you were preaching, man. You were preaching like the Devil is defeated. I was impressed. He was going on and on about the Scripture, and I was like, "Man, he really knows the Word," and then I got around the corner and he was holding a Bible.

I thought he hid it in his heart that he might not sin against God. No. He was holding it in his hand. I can't possibly name everyone who's joining us, but from all over the world, whether Missouri, UK, Houston… I just want to join in welcoming you into the presence of God. Sometimes the question is not whether we are welcome in his presence; it's whether we will really let him into the places of our lives that we hide from others. There's always a guilt trip preachers put on people on Easter and Christmas. They say, "It's good to see all the CEOs," the "Christmas and Easter only" Christians. Everybody goes, "Ha-ha," and they laugh so nobody will know it's them. And you fear you might sink through the floor because you haven't been here. But that's not our message today.

Our message today is you are welcome in the presence of God, and you're welcome in our church. The song we were singing… That's the real question of Easter…Will you welcome resurrection? Listen. In an ironic twist of fate, a cruel twist of fate, on the biggest Sunday that we have as the church, Easter, I have the shortest preaching time, because the most people come, and if I go too long, it will cause confusion, and then people in the parking lot will get violent, and somebody might get shot. I can't raise you from the dead. I'm not Jesus. So, what I have to do is stay on my clock today. Y'all know how difficult that is for me to do. So, rather than get into the formalities… Any information you need, you'll have to get it from somebody else. I'm going to get right into the word God gave me today. We've been singing. I don't know if you missed the singing and missed the worship, but it was glorious.

Now we want to turn our attention to the word God has for us today. I want to start in John, chapter 20, pick up two verses from the end of that chapter, and then I want to read a little story from the next chapter. Happy Easter. You made it. Now listen to this from John 20:30. John says, "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe…" Believe what? "…that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name". Y'all, I'm so glad it doesn't say by behaving I may have life in his name. I know you're on your best behavior today, but if we would have followed you this week, you'd be shouting over that verse. "By believing…" If we based it on your behavior, you might go to the other place, but by believing you may have life in his name.

Now, it would appear that John is drawing his gospel account to a close with those verses, but there is an entire chapter that follows. I won't read the whole thing, but I'm so glad it was put in as an epilogue or as a P.S. in John 21. I think there's something very important for you to know today. John really ended his gospel account, and he said, "Hey, Jesus did a lot of other things. I can't tell you everything". Then he opens back up. "Oh, by the way, let me tell you one other thing he did". He's not finished yet. That's what I need you to know more than you know anything that you know or think you know. I need you to know that better than you know your name. I need you to know that better than you know your social security number. I need you to know that better… You don't even know your phone number anymore, because you don't have to, but I need you to know that you know that he's not finished. I need every single solitary person under the sound of my voice to find one person and tell them, "He's not finished". Put it in the chat too.

Now listen to the next part. This is where my sermon comes from. That was the frame; here's the picture. "Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus)…" He is called Doubting Thomas in a lot of churches. Not here. We don't call him that. We call him Honest Thomas, because he had the faith to say, "I need to see for myself". And guess what Jesus did: showed up. "…Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee [James and John], and two other disciples were together". That's seven total. They were all together. Verse 3: "'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.'" There's nothing else to do. We've got to eat somehow. "So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends…'"

Friends. Keep that right there in your reticular activating system…that word friends. "'…haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered". When I was like, "Do you have joy today…"? "No". "Do you have peace in your heart? How many of you have faith…"? "No". Sometimes the greatest way you can invite God into your life is with an honest "No". If you would get better at saying that in your everyday life, you wouldn't have so many ulcers from committing to so many things you don't even need to be doing to begin with. Now let's really zone in here. We need to focus. "He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved…" That's the nickname John gave himself. "…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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards".

Peter, you couldn't wait a hundred yards? "When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many…" Live fish. Do you know how hard it is to haul in live fish? I never did it, but it sounds hard. One guy said it was 300 pounds of fish. Peter hauled it in all by himself when he saw Jesus. Some kind of strength kicked in that he didn't have when the rooster was crowing. When he saw Jesus, he dragged 300 pounds of fish behind him. "…even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead".

So, here's what we're going to talk about today. We're going to talk about Life After the Letdown. Thank you for the ministry of your Word. As it goes forth today, may it do so with convicting power and with life-giving, changing, saving, resurrection power. In Jesus' name, amen. I collect Easter sermon ideas because it comes around once a year. I had a big list going into this Easter, and the Lord said, "This will not be your sermon text. You are going to talk to the people about life after the letdown". It was weird for me yesterday, because I wanted to be happy about Easter, excited about Easter. I wanted to be full of energy, but I felt like I spent all day living in your letdowns. I'd studied my text. I'd already figured out what the Hebrew and the Greek means down in John, chapter 21, where Jesus says to Peter three times (we didn't read this part), "Do you love me"? and he said, "Yes," and he said, "Do you love me"? and he said, "Yes," and he said, "Do you love me"? and he said, "Yes".

I had already read how that's not really about what I heard growing up, where Jesus was saying the different Greek words for love. You know, phileo, which is a brotherly love, and agape, which is the God kind of love, and he was really trying to get Peter to a new level of love, because Jesus didn't speak Greek. So, I'd already studied that part about how when Jesus asked three times, "Peter, do you love me"? it wasn't so he could give him a vocabulary lesson about different types of love. Really, the meaning in that three times is not in the words he uses at all; it's in the math. If you go back just a few verses before Jesus comes to Peter on the shore, Peter has just denied Jesus three times. It helped me to see that it was a full-circle moment for Jesus and Peter, that he was giving him grace to cover all of his failures and that Peter didn't have more denial than Jesus had grace, that Peter didn't have more doubt than Jesus had mercy.

But after studying all of those nice things about Greek and Hebrew and numbers and all of the things that I study during the week so I can be prepared to serve you a good meal and you don't choke on the bones of a sermon that I didn't prepare correctly, it came to me that, really, unless we make this message very personal for you, it will be yet another superstitious activity you fulfill, thinking you did God a favor by putting on perfume and sitting still for an hour and 15 minutes. We don't want this Easter to pass us by and it just be another ticket-punching thing on our list in case we die before the next one. Now, I believe that because of what Jesus did for me I'm going to get to go to heaven when I die. I believe that, and I believe that even if you don't like me, I get to go. I believe that even if you don't think my theology is exactly correct or you don't think my Easter attire is dressy enough, because the Lord deserves our best, I still get to go to heaven.

So, you should be nice to me in what you say to me, because when we get to heaven, I might be your neighbor. Wouldn't it be weird for all of the people you didn't like on earth, and you get to heaven, and they say, "Hi, neighbor"! All of the people that you thought didn't have, you know, all of the theological suppositions and share all of the same common beliefs… You might get next door to them in heaven and realize you have to spend eternity with them. Yet as much as I believe that what Jesus did for me prepares me for heaven, I think, often, the message of resurrection gets weakened in our tendency to defer its implications to the next life. For us to think that John is saying believing gives us life in Jesus' name after we die is an unnecessary limitation of the finished work of Christ. For me to believe that I'm going to get to heaven one day and play a harp… And whatever they're doing in heaven, I'm going to do it with them. If they're playing harps, I'm going to take harp lessons.

If they're dancing, I'm going to take dancing lessons. There will not be any TikTok in heaven, so I will not have to be shown to the world, but if they're dancing in heaven, I'm going to find a corner and practice how to dance. I'm going to do it all when I get to heaven, yet there are some things I need Jesus for while I am still here right now. That's why John 21 had to be in the Bible. If it just ended on this note of abstract, universal reality called belief in life, we would kick it somewhere someday to "Amazing Grace" and "The Sweet By and By" and potato pie in the sky, and then here on earth we would continue to suppress the questions we have and the fears we wrestle with and the ugliness that mars our own self-concept and identity and just press it down and keep pressing it down and hope it never comes out. That's why I wanted to talk to you about life after the letdown.

When I say the letdown, I am leaving it open-ended so you can supply your own event, experience, or condition where I say the term letdown. It's kind of like a code language. I have secret hand signals with my family that mean things when we're in public. For the rest of our time today, you are my family, and this is going to be our secret signal to each other. When I say letdown, you put the one in there that you don't talk about. So, when I say letdown, you will have something you may not even have language for that will come up when I talk about the letdown. We are so quick not only to want to get to heaven when we die one day, but to want to get to the part of the story where Jesus got up, that we will waltz right past the part where he went to Jerusalem to be handed over and crucified at the hands of sinful men. There is really no way for us to experience the events of Easter without experiencing the events of the cross, and there is really no way for us to experience the events of the cross like the disciples did, because for us, the cross has a certain measure of comfort.

We know our sin is nailed to that cross. We know it canceled the written regulation that stood against us. We know the power of shame was broken on the cross of Christ. We know all that, so when we sing about the wonderful cross… When we survey the wondrous cross, we see the promise of redemption and atonement and his blood that was shed for us. But that same blood we rejoice in represented for the disciples a broken promise and an unmet expectation of the kingdom Jesus came to bring. These were his friends. Peter was a friend of Jesus. Everybody has crazy friends, and Peter was Jesus' crazy friend. Who's your crazy friend? "I don't have any crazy friend". Then you are the crazy friend. Peter was Jesus' kind of crazy.

One dude came over to the church. He said, "I just followed my kids over here to see if you're running a cult. My kid came over and was so excited about church. I said, 'My kid is excited about church. That must be a cult.' I came over to find out if you were crazy". I said, "Well, was I"? He said, "Yeah. It wasn't a cult, but you are crazy. But you're my kind of crazy". I gave him a fist bump, and I was like, "That's all right". This whole thing we're celebrating today is kind of crazy. I'll try this side of the room. This side of the room has no anointing of honesty whatsoever today. This is kind of crazy. I'm going to have to preach to the people in the back who got here late. I'm going to have to go out and preach it in the overflow. This is kind of crazy! It didn't seem crazy at first.

When Peter met Jesus, all Jesus said was, "Can I use your boat to preach"? There's nothing crazy about preaching, and there's nothing crazy about doing it from a boat, because that would provide natural amplification for Jesus' voice. As a matter of fact, if you really like the Bible, you were confused when I read the story, because you were like, "Is this a resurrection Scripture? Isn't this what happened when Jesus first called Peter"? You're right. It's the same story from the other side, but let me show you how it started. When Peter was out fishing one night, and he caught nothing… The only thing the stories have in common, really, is that Peter wasn't a very good fisherman in either one. The only thing I can really find that's exactly the same is empty nets.

There's a message in that. There is a message in that about the God who loves to fill what is empty and the God who loves to empty what is full. One is the nets; the other is the tomb. My faith is not in my own fullness. My faith is not in my own ability. My faith is not in my own righteousness. That's not how I'm getting to heaven. You get to heaven how you want to get to heaven, but I don't have the perfection pass. It's not going to let me through. I don't have my card punched. Not all the time. I'm honest, I'm sincere, I love the Lord, and all of that, but sometimes I slip, and sometimes I'm crazy, and not in the Christian way of crazy. Okay. Now that that's out of the way, let me show you when Jesus called Peter.

Look at this. Luke 5:4: "When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon…" That's Peter's given name…not the name Jesus gave him, but the name his parents gave him. He said, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch". Next verse. Peter said, "This makes no sense. We've fished all night. We've caught nothing. We're hanging it up for the night. There's no need for us to keep fishing in the daytime. The fish won't come to the surface when the water gets hot. But because you say so, I will let down the nets". This was the beginning of Peter's participation in the ministry of Jesus.

I've preached about it many times in the church, so I won't bore you with a review today, but when he let down the nets in that passage of Scripture, he could have had no way of knowing how his life would change because of the moment that he let down the nets. He could have had no idea that he would have a front row seat to blind eyes open when he let down the nets. He could have had no way of knowing that he would see the widow from Nain's son raised from the dead when he let down the nets. He could have had no idea that he would have seen a roof come off a house because the ministry of Jesus would be so popular that people… Watch this. On an Easter Sunday, if they couldn't get in the overflow, they would repel down the roof to see Jesus.

I don't preach as well as Jesus, so the roof is still here, but Jesus had so much power that stuff started falling from the ceiling when they said, "I'm so sorry; you'll have to sit in overflow". They were like, "Nuh-uh. I'm not sitting in overflow. I'm sitting in the room. I have a friend who has a need, and I'm going to get my friend to the feet of the one who has the Word". He taught with so much power and authority that the crowds loved him…until he got to the part they couldn't stomach, until he let them down. This is something I want to bring you today and see if it resonates with your heart. Are you a come-up Christian only? Do you know what I mean by come-up? In the original Hebrew, come-up means the part of the story where the success is accumulating and the benefits are accruing. It seems that Peter, as he followed Jesus through a certain season, was experiencing the come-up, which made it the ultimate betrayal of Peter's faith when Jesus went to the cross. When Jesus said, "I'm going to the cross," Peter said, "No, not you". The cross interrupted the come-up.

Now, we experience the cross in the knowledge that Jesus isn't there anymore. We experience the cross with the knowledge that the ultimate destruction can be transformed into the ultimate redemption. We experience the cross that way, but for the disciples, the cross was shaped like a question mark. "Did we waste our lives? Did we throw our careers away? Should I have listened to my mom and not followed this carpenter's son all through the Galilean region"? So, I think, before we rush to the part where he got up… That's the Easter part. I can make everybody in the room clap real quick. High-five three people and say, "He got up". What you won't see while they're high-fiving you is the letdown that they push down. That's why yesterday was hard for me.

I was imagining us together, and I knew you were going to wear your best button-down shirt because Mom came to church with you today. You don't tell her you normally come to Elevation Church in a tank top, but you dressed up today. I spent yesterday thinking about the fact that before he got up, they were let down, and the Lord was ministering to me about my letdowns. Yeah, I have some. I went through my camera roll recently, and I was laughing at some pictures and smiling at some pictures, and some of them made me want to cry. It made me want to cry because I could almost divide my camera roll into halves based on certain things…people, plans, and places where I experienced a letdown. One of them, in particular, was right in the middle of the summer 2013 when Dad died. I could see a dividing line, almost, between that year. That was a hard year for me in general.

A lot of things happened that year. I'm not here to have you do therapy for me. I don't want you to send me a bill. But I could almost see my eyes change in the pictures before and after. You know how we say the birth of Jesus Christ changed everything? That's an incomplete statement, because if he didn't die, it changed nothing. His teachings wouldn't be here. They wouldn't be recorded. And if he died and didn't rise, then his death was in vain. So, really, the dividing line for my understanding of my relationship with God is not that he was born in a manger and not even that he died on a tree, as much as both of those things inform my faith. The fact that he got up is what divides my life, and yet… Don't clap. Y'all want me there so badly. Yes, he got up, like popcorn going up all over the church. The Lord directed me… Before we can really get to that in a way that matters more than a motivational speech, we need to decide…Is he the Lord of your letdowns? Why did you give me this message for Easter Sunday, Lord?

This is supposed to be a happy day. I was looking through the pictures, and I thought, "Man, that guy who was 28 didn't know what that guy who's 42 knows". Some of it… I feel like this gray hair gave me a little bit of authority, wisdom. Can't you feel it? But some of it… I saw something had changed in my eyes after I found out what people can do to you, after I found out that not everything I'm going to put on my wish list of God to do is going to come. Here's the biggest one. A lot of times, we talk about letdowns in terms of the thing you went after that you wanted that you didn't get. Some of the biggest letdowns are the things you wanted and went after, and you got them, and you can't send them back. Do you know why it feels so uncomfortable when we get to this part of the story? Because we know the ending, so we just want to skip there. Peter did it! He went fishing. There's nothing wrong with fishing.

"Do you hate fishing, Preacher? Are you saying fishing is a sin"? No. Peter didn't do anything sinful. There's nothing wrong with fishing. Peter didn't go open a strip club. "Oh, well, I guess if God isn't going to do what I want, I'm just going to go sell drugs. I've got to provide for my babies. I've got to take care of my family. I've got to do what I've got to do". Peter went back to what he knew. It's not what he did that shocked me; it's when he did it. This is the third time he has seen Jesus since he has been alive from the dead. I can totally understand Peter goes fishing because Jesus hasn't made a special appearance yet, but he has already seen Jesus, and he's back fishing, because he's still living in the letdown. "I don't know what you're talking about, Preacher. I trust God. So, when God says yes, I accept it, but when he says no, I equally accept it, knowing that he knows what's best for me".

This is not your Easter sermon. The Lord didn't give me a message for you, because apparently, you are already in heaven. The rest of us need a message about the low moments of our faith. This is so powerful. How can you go fishing when there's a whole world to be reached? How can you go fishing when Jesus hasn't even ascended to heaven yet? This is only the second week after his resurrection. We still have weeks to go, and Peter is fishing, and Jesus has nothing better to do than to cook breakfast. What about that? Jesus needs a time management class. You want to change the whole world, and you have a message of resurrection, and you are wasting time here cooking for these jokers who forsook you on the cross. Not only that. He calls them his friends. I need God to help me to give me that kind of love, because I have this certain line that when people cross it, I have a really hard time letting them back in again.

I don't know if this is right or wrong. There is a certain line where if somebody lets me down long enough, I'll just start working around them. I won't cuss them out. I won't call down curses from heaven on them. I'll just stop letting them in. I'll just kill my expectation of you if you let me down long enough. I'm the same way about life. If I pray for something or go after something or work toward something, and I do it long enough… If I get let down long enough, I will not let hope in anymore. So, Jesus stands as my model, and Peter stands as my message. Jesus is standing on the shore, calling to the same disciples who let him down in his lowest moment, and he approaches them with empty nets and says, "Would you like to eat some breakfast"? This passage I selected… The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a well-documented event. You believe it or you don't. But this part will redefine your relationship with the resurrected Christ.

If you think he only got up for the moments where your faith is high, you have missed the message of John, chapter 21, which says that before Jesus could go forward, before Jesus could be taken, before Jesus could be seated at the right hand of God, before Jesus could sit down and call his work on earth finished, he had to find Peter. This is not the first time, the second time, or the last time, but there is something significant about the third time. Peter had three denials. Jesus was dead for three days. Three times. This is the third time. It represents the point at which their expectation had run out. Jesus steps into this moment, the moment at which they still had no fish. Jesus steps into the moment where the fog and the mist are so cold on the sea that it is blowing against their faces, and they cannot even recognize his presence. He chooses the lowest moment of your life sometimes to reveal the greatest love.

So, while we can praise God for all of the great things he has done, and while we can praise him that he got up, because we read that part, because it's in the Bible… It wasn't in their Bible, because this book hadn't been written yet, so they had to sit there in the boat and wonder in the middle of the storm. Just because he got up doesn't mean they knew what to do next. We preach it like that, like, "Accept Jesus and life will be wonderful". What?! I have found my Christian experience doesn't help me to avoid any of the disappointments of life. It's not avoidance. You keep thinking that more and more, if you pray, God will help you avoid certain storms. No, no, no. Faith doesn't make me avoid it; it helps me transform it. That's what the cross means to us. It happened. He died. It happened. They buried him. It happened. They mocked him.

So, for all of you who are coming to church for the message that God will never let you down, Peter wanted me to tell you sometimes he does a little bit. See, you keep basing it on your expectation and calling it faith. You customize the Bible to the parts that make you feel good and cut out all of the parts where they fished and caught nothing. What I love about this message, what I really love about this message, if you want to know what I really love about this message… It can apply to the Letdown or the letdown. The Letdown. Jesus went to the cross and died. That's about as bad as it gets. The guy you left everything to follow dies, and he's supposed to overthrow Rome and get the oppression out, but he doesn't. He dies. That's pretty bad. I have to clarify. This is not "Man, I had really hoped they were going to do 'Amazing Grace' at church today". This is not an "I really hope…" This is an "I risked everything".

Now, some people are not disappointed in God because they never really hoped in him to begin with. Peter was the leader. When he said, "I'm fishing," they said, "We're fishing too". When he jumped out of the boat, they were like, "Come on. Let's go to the shore. Peter is going to the shore". They were following Peter more than they were following Jesus at that point. The one with the greatest potential also experienced the greatest pain. That's a word for somebody. The more you hope and trust in God, the greater vulnerability there will be for those moments in your life where the Enemy whispers, "God is not with you," for those low moments. Who has been in a low moment lately? He's the Lord of those low moments. I know everybody tells you he's the resurrected Christ, and he is, but before he got up, he was laid down.

See how this is cyclical? See how when Peter says, "I will let down the nets" that wasn't the last letdown in the Scripture? If only that were the last letdown. If only Jesus didn't let Lazarus die. See, they've had practice for this. So have you. You have had practice to know that what you're going through right now that you don't think you're going to make it through… You thought you wouldn't make it through the last thing you were going through that you thought you wouldn't make it through, and you made it through that. Even you being here today is evidence of the fact that life will let you down. People will let you down. That's what I told Elijah the other day. I said, "Being a dad is my greatest privilege…"

Next to being Holly's husband. That's the main thing in my life. Even me being a dad, I wouldn't be able to do it without her. I mean, she's the only thing that makes me look good most days anyway. Being a dad is amazing, but I'm disappointed in being a dad from this perspective. Not because of you, not because of you, not because of you. You surprise me every day in good ways. No, I really love it. I love being a dad. But it's almost like when I thought of myself as a dad, I thought of myself like I would be coaching the players in a game. I would be on the sidelines calling the plays, telling them how to follow God and telling them how to be disciplined and teaching them in the ways they should go and training up a child, but in my picture of being a dad, I was doing all of this from the sidelines of parenthood.

Nobody told me they leave you in the game to get hit while you try to coach this team that is running down the field in the wrong direction. Nobody told me you don't get to take off the pads to be a parent. You still are getting hit. You're still dealing with whatever you brought into parenthood. There was no wand. In fact, is there any couple in the room that has been married for a year or less? You have that newlywed, Holy Ghost love. Stand up right now. Oh, let's give them a hand, y'all. Let's give them a hand for absolutely nothing. Oh, isn't that wonderful? Oh, that's wonderful. Did you do the marriage vows? Did you write your own vows? Did you put this part in? Look at each other right now. I'm going to do it real quick. I'm ordained. It's okay; I'm ordained. Say, "I will let you down".

Now sit down. I'll bet you didn't put it in. You didn't know to put it in. So, what you have in your relationship will not be known until after… I thought I'd be an amazing parent, because I thought I would have a box in the sky and a headset to call the plays they would give to the quarterback. I didn't know I'd be out here getting hit too. I didn't know I would let them down. The biggest thing in the passage to preach about isn't that Jesus let Peter down, because he got up, and he walked through lock doors to show Peter, "I told you. I told you". He walked through locked doors to show Thomas, "I died for you".

Now this is the third appearance, and it seems that Jesus is no longer dealing with the fact that he let Peter down. It seems like now he's trying to deal with the fact that Peter let him down and denied that he even knew Jesus. That's what Peter had to move through. He could get through the fact that it didn't end like he wanted, because he saw the resurrected Christ. John 21 is added in the Bible to show you that God knew the ways you would let him down before he ever called your name to follow him. If Jesus had gone back up to heaven before John 21, Peter could not have preached on the day of Pentecost. He was no longer living in the letdown of what Jesus didn't do; he was living in the letdown of what he didn't do for Jesus.

That is why it was important for Jesus to take time to cook breakfast for these disciples who denied him. Even the ones who didn't deny him disassociated from him. Even the ones who said, "I will follow you to death," even loudmouthed Peter who was willing to cut off an ear in the garden so no one would take his Lord away, even Peter who was willing to give Jesus his boat not even knowing yet where this journey would lead… Even Peter, in the moment of crisis, let him down. That's what I'm upset about, not that God let me down. If I'm honest, the biggest thing I have to process is that I constantly feel like I'm letting him down. That's why I go back fishing, doing what I know to do, because I don't want to let you down. "God, I'm sorry. I'm here again. Here I am struggling with this again. I've already had help with this. I've already prayed about this. You already taught me about this. I memorized Scripture, and here I am again. I let you down". God said, "Really? I wasn't aware that you were holding me up".

That's why he got up out of the grave. He wasn't holding anything but the keys to death, hell, and the grave. All of your sin, all of your shame, all of the record, all of the guilty stain… It was in the grave that he left. The only thing he was holding was the keys to let you know, Peter, you can't let him down. To disappoint God would mean you had something deep down inside that he didn't see. Since God is this thing called omniscient, which means all-knowing, and since he is all-seeing, and since he fills everything and every space, even the spaces in between the things you show him, even the spaces between Sundays where you struggle, even the spaces in between your great bursts of faith… Since he fills that space… He came to the shore to show you something that I want you to get the revelation for today. Not just that he got up. He got up.

Oh, isn't that wonderful? Not unless you believe that you can too. You have to get up. You must get up. Your purpose demands it. Your faith commends it. You must get up. This is not a suggestion; it's a command. If you have to jump in the water, you must get up. It's a summons to faith. You must get up, because there is life after the letdown. There is life after the letdown. Confess it by faith with your own mouth. "There is life after the letdown". Yeah, this didn't turn out how I wanted, but I'm going forward by faith, because there is life after the letdown. A lot of people left me. They left Jesus too. He called them friends. He didn't get bitter. He fed them breakfast, because there is life after the letdown. That lets me know he can forgive any dirty, rotten, stinking, sinful thing I do.

"How do you know that? How do you know he can still use me? How do you know God is not disappointed in me? How do you know he hasn't changed his mind? How do you know I didn't blow it? How do you know the best days aren't behind me? How do you know I didn't make a mistake I can't come back from"? How do I know it? Because the fish told me so. Not the ones Peter caught…the ones Jesus was already cooking when he got to the shore. See, he's not finished with you yet. That's why you didn't die yet. That's why some of you made a plan to kill yourself, but you couldn't. That was the grace of God to hold you up. He won't let you down that far. No, no, no. That's where my solid rock kicks in. He has a purpose for me. He has something to build through my life. Jesus said, "Bring me some fish," and then they ate. Which fish did they eat? Not the ones Peter caught but the ones Jesus had already cleaned.

Was he trying to give us a little message this Easter about the ways we think we've disqualified ourselves from his grace? Was he trying to tell you, "It's already clean"? Did he bring us here for this moment? For all of the ways life has let you down, I'm sorry. For all of the ways you've let God down, he already knows, but he still got up, and he still called you friend. What would that have sounded like through the ears of failure? What would that have sounded like? What would that have looked like through the eyes of frustration of fishing all night and catching nothing? Did God bring you to this moment to show you who he really is? They recognized Jesus after the letdown.

I believe God is calling new life forth in this moment. I invite you right now to come out of your grave and meet Jesus. I invite you right now to see the Christ upon the cross who was wounded for your transgression, who was bruised for your iniquity. The chastisement that brought us peace was upon him. By his stripes we are healed. It's already done. It's already clean. The price has already been paid. The blood has already been shed. It is not that we are righteous that enables us to come to God. It is not that we will do better. It is by believing that you have life in his name.

The Scripture says that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he got up, that God raised him from the dead, you can get up too, and you can be saved. You can have a new beginning, and you can have a fresh start. He will call you friend, and he will call you his child. He never stopped loving you. He never stopped pursuing you. He never stopped wanting you. He never stopped calling you, and he's still going to use you, but this is your moment of decision. There is life after the letdown, after the worst possible thing, after the greatest possible pain. There is life after the letdown. This is the part of the sermon where you decide whether to walk out that door just like you came or really let God into that place in your life where you need to be forgiven and saved.

With every head bowed and every eye closed, I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now. This prayer is not just magical words strung together. It's an actual declaration of faith. For those of you who are standing there and going, "God is speaking to me today; he's calling me to come out of my sin, to come out of my shame, and to receive him," this is your moment to be saved. We're going to pray it all out loud together for the benefit of those who are making a decision to do what Peter did and follow Jesus Christ, to receive his grace and new life and the forgiveness of sin. This is your resurrection moment. For all of you who want to give your life to God, or you've been far from him for a long time and want to come back right now, repeat this prayer after me, church family praying out loud.

Heavenly Father, today is my day of salvation. I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Today, I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe you died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.

On the count of three, shoot your hand up if you prayed that. One, two, three! All over this room, all over our campuses. Come on now. Shoot it up high for a third-day miracle! The rest of us, let's celebrate the resurrection of our King! Glory! Come on, lift up a shout of praise!

Are you Human?:*