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About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Testify
Testify is the 4th and final volume of Chip Ingram’s series, Jesus Unfiltered, an exposition of the entire Gospel of John. Testify reveals Jesus’ last days on earth and His final words to His followers, from then to today. It’s a bold, gritty assignment – far from the ease and prosperity of content religion. Jesus tasked His followers with a mission to testify; He promised a future of tribulation; He provided the limitless power of the Holy Spirit; and He guaranteed the hope of victory. Testify will encourage and challenge you to take your faith to the next level – to be strong and courageous – for the sake of His Kingdom to come.More from this series
I want to ask you a question, but I don’t want you to answer at all, out loud. But I do want you to really think deeply about what would be the most honest answer, just with yourself? And the question is: What is something in your past or in your present that you’re ashamed of?
Something that was done to you, or something that you have done that just, as honest as you could be, you do not want anyone to ever know about. Or if anyone, maybe one or two people that so know you and you so trust them, that you think they could handle it.
What is one thing that, if it came to the surface and people knew this about either what you did or something that happened to you, that you feel like they would think less of me? They would really view me far in a different way and probably a negative way. And every time I would see them, I would feel like they would look at me through the lens of that thing I’m ashamed of.
If you’ll open your notes, we are going to talk about restoration. We are going to talk about moving beyond forgiveness to restoration. Because you can’t testify unless God does this work in your life. And we all have shame.
Shame, as you notice on the front of your notes, is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress that is caused by a consciousness of a wrong or foolish behavior, regrettable, or an unfortunate situation or action. There’s about three major causes for shame, that feeling that you don’t measure up, that something is wrong, that we all have something to hide.
The first is it’s inherited. When our first parents rebelled against God, you remember the first thing they did? They covered themselves because they were ashamed. They covered their private parts with fig leaves and they realized – something has happened when we rebelled and sinned against God. There is separation from God and we feel, now, exposed and we are trying to hide. And we have been doing that ever since. Every human being has some level of shame.
The second way that multiplies it, and some people have layers and layers of shame, is something was done to you. In extreme cases, to be molested, to be raped, to be abused. There’s a reason why rape victims often, in the great majority of the time, don’t come forward, even though they are the victim is they feel ashamed and what would people think?
It’s not all that dramatic. Sometimes you’re shamed by labeling. “You’re fat! You’re dumb! You’ll never amount to anything! Why don’t you get with the program? You didn’t get in the right school.” These labels, in moments of weakness, from a parent or a teacher or a coach that stick with you.
I was a really, really late developer so I was 4’11” in seventh grade and 5’1” in eighth grade. And I wanted to be a basketball player. The basketball coach looked at me and said, “You need to go out for wrestling. You’re too small and too skinny.” Why do I know that fifty years later?
I was the shrimp. I heard that. “Hey! Here comes Ingram! If he turns sideways, you can’t see him.” Right? And there is shame. I remember, as a senior in high school, big basketball game. The stands are filled. And my dad is drunk. And he is yelling things out and the police escort him out during the game. I was ashamed. What about you? What has been done to you that really produces a sense of: I wouldn’t want people to know about my family or what someone did or who I am associated with.
So, we inherit shame. People do stuff to us that cause shame. And we do stuff to ourselves. Our own actions bring shame, right? You do something you know is wrong. The big word is: you sin. But it can be everything from you were the abuser, to you lied or you cheated. Or it was years ago, and twenty-two years ago and no one even knows. There’s a divorce in your past and you have never told anyone. Or there’s an abortion in your past.
Or that small time when you were fired from a job and you weren’t fired because you had a lousy supervisor. You were fired because of what you did that was really wrong. And when you tell that story, you just really make it far different than it was because you are ashamed. We all have shame, and the thing is, shame does really, really bad stuff. We’re going to find that Jesus is going to restore Peter. He is forgiven. He has had a one-on-one with Jesus, we learn from the other gospels, but he doesn’t feel worthy.
When you have shame, you don’t measure up. Here are some of the words that are implanted in our soul. Words like: I am deficient, I am flawed, I am damaged, I am unacceptable, I am unlovable, I am rejected, I am dirty, I am inferior, I am broken, I am disgusting.
And sometimes, over the years, you push that down and it creates things that you’re consciously not aware of.
Three different ways we deal with shame. First, we hide. There is stuff that, even as I am talking, some stuff is coming back – you thought, I haven’t thought about that in years.
Theresa and I were talking yesterday and I was talking through the message and I’ve got a great wife. So, her, So, Chip, what are you ashamed of? And we had a very serious talk. But we hide.
The second way we deal with shame is we numb it. My dad numbed it. My dad was three and a half packs a day of cigarettes and almost a case of beer every day. And later on, he would sleep all afternoon and the weekends. He was depressed. My dad killed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people in Guam and Iwo Jima. And he saw horrific things and he felt ashamed, even though it was a just war and he only talked about it twice. And he just numbed it.
Some people numb it with shopping, some people numb it with different addictions. Some people just, you want to hide and the way you hide and numb it is you eat. Others have explosive anger. And that works too, because when you’re one of those people that’s a powder keg, people don’t get close, and it’s a way to hide. We numb it; we hide. Some of us compensate for it.
I remember sitting, my Marine dad. “Hey, Chip, what are you doing?” “I’m sitting down.” “You’re not getting anything done sitting down.” I got up! I have been getting up ever since. The fear that people would think I’m lazy. That’s how I became a workaholic. You think I’m skinny? You think I’m short? I’ll be a basketball player if it kills me!
Some of the most driven CEOs and some of you are in places where you have been extraordinarily successful, but it’s still not enough because the issue isn’t your work. The issue is there is this sense of you really don’t measure up. And we are trying to prove it.
What is great is there is another word. It’s called restoration. And to restore means to bring back or to reinstate. It’s to return something or someone to a former condition or to a position or to a place. You can be forgiven and live with shame and have it mark your life.
And we are going to learn in this passage, I can’t wait to share this as we close this series, we are going to learn how Jesus will teach us to put our shame behind us in order that we can be positioned and prepared to accomplish what He wants us to, to actually testify with our life and our words. You know what? It’s really hard to be bold with people if, down deep, you feel like if they ever really got to know me, then they would, whoo, reject me and reject what I say.
Notice, as you open the notes, that we are restored in order to testify. And the context is John chapter 21. Jesus has been resurrected. The text will tell us this is the third time officially He has appeared to His disciples. From all the other gospels, we know it’s about the seventh time He has appeared to someone. They were in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was dangerous so Jesus tells Peter and the disciples, “Go to Galilee and I am going to meet you there.” And so they go to Galilee and let’s, Galilee is home, Galilee is where it’s comfortable, Galilee is where a number of them were called into ministry.
And so it’s a comfortable, safe place. And they were told to wait. And Peter is not great at waiting, which I can identify with. And some of you can too. And so He says to the guys, “I am going fishing,” and He is obviously still a leader because six others say, “Well, I’ll go with you.” And it’s interesting that he is going back to doing, remember? He left his nets when Jesus called him before. And Peter doesn’t know, I’m forgiven, but I don’t know if I’m in the game. I don’t know my role. I don’t know if I’m usable. I am damaged goods. Does that ring a bell? I’m damaged goods. I know God loves me…
Or how about this one? I know God has forgiven me, but I can’t forgive my…finish the sentence…myself. And when you, that’s shame. So God’s opinion of you is not quite as high as your opinion of you. Do the math on that one.
And so here we are and Jesus is going to go through a process to restore him. Follow along as I read, I want to make a couple major observations in the text. John 21. “Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberius,” or, the Sea of Galilee, same thing. “It happened in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee,” that’s James and John, “and two other disciples were together. ‘I am going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out, got into the boat, but all night they caught nothing.” Interesting failure.
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Him. He called out to them, ‘Friends,’” or, literally, it’s, “‘…lads! My children! Boys! Haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. 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 in the net because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It’s the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard this, he said, ‘It’s the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (he had taken it off) and he jumped into the water. And the other disciples followed in the boat, towing in the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire,” literally, it’s a charcoal fire.
“…with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ And Simon Peter climbed aboard, dragged the net ashore. And it was full of, one hundred and fifty-three fish.” This is an historical account.
It’s not a metaphor, it’s not an allegory. This is an actual thing that happens. And if you know any fishermen, they know how many fish they catch.
“But even with so many the net was not torn. And Jesus said to them, Come and eat breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask, ‘Who is it?’ For they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, and He took some bread. He gave it to them and did the same with the fish. And this is now the third time He appeared to this official group of disciples since He was raised from the dead.”
Well, what is going on here? What we are going to see is He is going to reinstate Peter. And I just have to believe there’s part of Peter who, we don’t know exactly, does he really need the money? Does he need the food? You kind of get the idea that he left the fishing business and feels like, God could never use me anymore, so he has gone back to what is comfortable. Does that sound kind of like what we do? Find a place where we feel like we are in control and we know what we are doing.
And then once again, he’s having an experience of failure. And I can’t help but believe that he also, as they are pulling in that fish, in the grace of God, the first time he met Jesus, remember? Jesus was preaching and thousands of people and He said, “Peter, can I use your boat?”
And he says, “Yes.” So He sits in the boat and He gets out on the water because as you speak with water, it was on a hillside, it magnifies it, so without a microphone. And then He gets done with the message and Peter, that day, had finished, fished all night and didn’t catch anything. And He said, “Just go out a little ways and put your net down,” remember? And it was filled with fish. Two boats had to bring it in. And Peter said, “Depart from me, Lord. I am a sinful man.”
Isn’t it interesting that when He is going to restore him, He allows him to have the experience of failure and the experience of a miracle catch to say, You know something? That’s how I blessed you when you felt like you were so far away from Me. And now, that shame, I want you to know, My attitude hasn’t changed.
Another thing I think that’s instrumental here is that little phrase: a charcoal. Scientists tell us that our smell really triggers memory. It’s one of our strongest senses. Do you remember the last time that the text tells us that he was around a charcoal fire, warming his hands? And there was a little servant girl next to him. And remember? Remember what that event was about? “Oh! You’re one of His disciples, aren’t you?” “Blankety-blank-blank! I don’t even know Him!”
And so what you see is this setting of a scene and this is His kindness. Remember John chapter 1? Moses brought the law, but Jesus will explain God. He brings truth and grace. Grace: a hundred and fifty-three fish. Truth: We are going to have a conversation about what happened around the last time you were around a fire like this.
So let’s now look at the restoration process. It begins in verse 15. “When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Peter, Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love you.’ And Jesus said, ‘Feed My lambs.’ Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, You know I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of My sheep.’ The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ And Peter was hurt, because Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know all things; you know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My sheep.’”
And then He makes this prophetic announcement, “‘I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself, you went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ And Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.” And then the total reinstatement occurs.
“Then He said to him, ‘Follow Me! Follow Me!’” I have commissioned you three times. You think it’s an accident he denies the Lord three times and now three times, “Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Follow Me!”
The text goes on, “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.” And I love Peter. His great wins are almost always followed by, at least, a little loss. “So, the other disciple is following him. (And this is the one who leaned back on Jesus’ breast and said, ‘Who is going to betray You?’) And when Peter saw him, he said, ‘Lord! What about him?’ And Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.’ Because of this a rumor spread that somehow that John the apostle wouldn’t die.” But He goes on to explain in the text that’s not true and that’s not the issue.
But immediately, he went to, Okay, I want to know about his life, not just mine. And He is going, Wait a second. This isn’t about comparing yourself with other people. This isn’t about My agenda for them. This moment is about you. And it’s about dealing with your shame.
Now, notice three questions. Three answers. But there’s a few things that the Holy Spirit has put in here that gives some insight. In questions one and two, He says, “Do you love Me” Agapaō. It means, it’s, remember the John 3:16, the agape love? The selfless, unconditional, that no-matter-what-way that God loves us…
Jesus said, “Do you love Me the way God loves you?” And Peter responds, “I love you” – phileo. In other words, “I love You with this fond, friendship, endearing, I’m on Your team.” But Peter has kind of been down the road of, remember the last time? “They may all forsake You, but not me!”
And so now Jesus, in front of the disciples who he dissed earlier. These are the same guys that Jesus said, “I’m going to go to the cross,” and Peter goes, “They, these guys, they might flake out. But not me.” He was arrogant. And then he betrayed Him.
And so Jesus asked, “So, really? Do you love Me more than these other men?” And Peter has learned a lesson. He said, “I love You.” Fond, deep friendship, affection. So He repeats it, “Do you love Me?” Agapaō. “Do you love Me with an agape, total commitment, selfless love that would never cave in under any circumstances?” And Peter responds, “Phileo – I love You.” And each time, then He gives him an assignment.
He’s saying, “I have a job for you. I have a job for you.” What He’s saying is, “You qualify. You’re not disgusting. You’re not a loser. I care about you. I trust you.”
And so, finally, Jesus shifts it. And He changes the word. Phileo. “Do you have a fond, loving, affection for Me?” And Peter says, he’s hurt. “Lord, you know what?” You know what he’s really saying in this last one? “I thought I knew myself. You know me better than I know me. Here’s the deal, Lord. You know I love You. But You know I love You with an imperfect love that’s fond, loving affection, but I’m going to give my best to follow You and be as loyal as I can.”
But sort of embedded in this is, “There may be a day and a time when I kind of mess up. You know all things, Lord.”
As pastors, we like to talk about the changes of the word in love, right? Which I have just done. There’s another change that I think is almost as important. The word know.
Peter’s answer is, “You know I love You, You know I love You, You know all things.” The first two times it’s a word in the Greek that, You know the facts. You know the truth. You know the data.
You know the facts, you know the truth, you know the data. The last time when he goes, “You know all things,” it’s the change of a word for know in Greek that is: You, relationally, know me from the inside out. And what He is doing is restoring him and then He says, “Here is the agenda. Follow Me.”
And part of his testimony is not that he ended up a great leader and a great preacher and blazed the trail among the Jews. Part of his testimony is that he was a restored person who really messed up.
We think the sexual sins are bad, yes. Financial sins are bad. I don’t think there’s a sin that can ever be greater than to betray someone. And that’s what our leader did and he got restored and reinstated.
And then, finally, you have John at the very end here saying, “This is the disciple who,” notice our theme, “testifies to these things and wrote them down. And we know his testimony is true.” And then he goes on to say, “And there were many other things,” I’m giving you just a little snapshot. There were lots of other miracles.
And so, I think the big question for us now is: How does Jesus restore us? That’s the model. This is the last gospel written. Shame is a big deal. Shame is a powerful deal. How does God restore us from that thing that I asked you to honestly think about in your life?