In part 1 of this blog series called, “How to be used mightily by God,” we learned that Jesus prepared Peter to be used in great ways by reminding him of his need to listen to Jesus.
Through comparing John 21:1-19 and Luke 5:1-11, we saw how Jesus had to repair the damage Peter had done to himself when he betrayed Jesus. The way Jesus did this was by reminding Peter of how their relationship had begun in the first place.
In part 2 of “How to be used mightily by God” we will talk about three more prerequisite actions Jesus helped Peter do to be prepared for God using him. If we prepare in these three ways as well, God will use us for his purposes.
These three actions are repentance, loving Jesus, and following Jesus.
#2: If We Want to Be Used Mightily By God, We Must Always Repent
It’s interesting when reading John 21:1-9 alongside of Luke 5:1-11. In part 1 we talked about how Luke 5:1-11 is where Jesus called Peter to be his disciple through an experience of catching a miraculous amount of fish. In John 21:1-19, Jesus recreates a very similar situation for Peter and uses this time to restore him after Peter had betrayed Jesus three times.
One of the astounding points to both of these stories is that after each instance of Peter catching a miraculous amount of fish, he caught a glimpse of Jesus’ glory and it caused Peter to immediately repent of his sinfulness:
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:8-11)
Likewise, in John 21:1-19, after Jesus causes Peter to catch the fish, he asks Peter three times if Peter loves Jesus. Each of these three times probably represented the three times Peter had denied his love for Jesus during his betrayal. To restore Peter to usefulness, Jesus led Peter to a deep, profound repentance.
The same is true for us. If we hope to be used mightily by God, we must repent of our sin passionately. We will all fail in many ways. Perfection is not a prerequisite to being used mightily by God. But repentance and being continually cleansed with the blood of Jesus is.
#3: To Be Used Mightily By God, We Must Remember Our Love for Jesus
There are so many false motives we can have in ministry. Fame, financial gain, self-worth, tradition, guilt, the desire to be liked, or the need to earn a right standing with God are all poor motivations for serving in ministry.
The only motivation that will last and the only motivation that will truly please God is love. If we desire to be used mightily by God, we have to know what God really cares about. He doesn’t just want masses of people making verbal confessions of faith or being dunked in a tub of water. He wants people to love him.
To accomplish this task most effectively, God is looking for leaders who love him. Success in life will not be determined by how many people we reach with the love of God. Success will be determined by how well we reach the people God called each of us individually to reach with the love of God. We all have a specific calling, and success will be determined by how well each one of us accomplishes the work God gave us personally.
You can be a father of three or an orphanage founder of three thousand. But if we do not help people who are put in our path to love God, we are missing the mission.
To be used mightily by God, we must love Jesus and help others do the same.
Is it any wonder that in John 21:15-19, Jesus made sure Peter remembered his love for Jesus? Whenever Jesus asks a question in Scripture, he doesn’t ask it for himself. God knows all things. Therefore when God asks us a question, he asks it so we can be reminded of the answer. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” for Peter’s sake. To be used mightily by God, Peter first had to remember that his heart really had been changed. Peter really did love Jesus, and if Peter could not embrace this truth, he would never reach his full potential for Christ.
You can’t repent if you can’t remember that you really do love Jesus. When God transforms us through grace, he turns us into people who love him (Romans 2:29). One of God’s greatest gifts to us was to give us a love for him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Without grace, we don’t love God. But when God transforms us into a new creation, he blesses us with new desires and a passionate love for him.
We must embrace this truth if we hope to be used mightily by God. If you’ve become a new creation, you really do love Jesus. When you embrace this as truth, even when you don’t feel it, it will manifest in your actions and eventually overwhelm your emotions. But you have to embrace it as fact first.
Jesus prepared Peter to be used by God by helping him to embrace his love for Jesus. If we hope to be used mightily by God too, we must do the same.
#4: Following Jesus Is the Path to Being Used Mightily By God
After Jesus reminded Peter that their relationship is built on Peter listening to Jesus, after Jesus helped Peter to repent, and after Jesus helped Peter embrace his God-given love for Jesus, he then gave Peter this final command, “And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:19).
Peter heard Jesus, but he didn’t really hear him as deeply as Jesus wanted. Immediately after Jesus told him this, Peter asked about what was going to happen to John. In response Jesus reemphasized his message to Peter, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Jesus was driving home the point, “Peter, don’t worry about all the other stuff. The most important thing for you to focus on and do is captured in these two words, ‘Follow me.’”
Sometimes simple advice is glossed over because of its simplicity. But simple does not mean unimportant. Jesus has given us the most important advice when it comes to life, happiness, and being used mightily by God, “Follow me.”
We need to listen to what Jesus says, we need to repent when we fail, we need to love Jesus above all things, and then we need to go out and do it. If we want to be used mightily by God, we need to follow Jesus.