This is the audio from the April 16, 2023 sermon, “A Time to Gather: A Place to HEAL”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: John 21
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. ”
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
Today I began a new series, or added a postscript to the previous series, as we looked at life after the resurrection. Even though Jesus had spent His ministry years preparing the disciples to take the gospel into the world, He knew that they would not quite be ready after the resurrection. In fact, He had told them prior to the cross that He would die, be buried, and rise again and that they should wait for Him. I believe this gathering after the resurrection was necessary for a variety of reasons, with one of those primary reasons being that they had all deserted Jesus in His time of trial and each of them would be experiencing some level of brokenness and guilt. They needed the restoration and healing that only Jesus could bring and they needed to know it was for all of them. As we gather each week as those resurrected by the power of Jesus Christ, we do so as those who have our own brokenness and guilt so we come together in a place to . . .
Hear: — John 21:1-9
- Our time to gather is a place to hear the good news of Jesus and experience the power of listening to God and to one another. Even as Jesus called out to the disciples and gave them instructions on where to find fish, they did not immediately realize it was Him. They needed a place to truly hear so they would recognize Jesus in their midst. When we gather with others, we need to be mindful that the distractions of this life are numerous and present in the most unexpected places. Our brokenness has a way of dulling our hearing so that we begin to believe the lies of our enemy. When we deliberately listen to God and to one another, we find a place to gather where each one of us can find the healing we need.
Eat: — John 21:10-14
- I suspect that talking about our time to gather being a place to eat might seem a bit strange at first. Yet it shouldn’t take long to realize the hunger that is created by our brokenness. When we gather as those resurrected by the power of Jesus Christ, we find fulfillment as we feast on God’s Word and as we share in the elements of communion. Even though the text says that Jesus had a fire going with fish being prepared, He asked the disciples to bring some of the fish they had caught to Him. While Jesus has all that we need, He also calls for us to contribute as we each bring value to the gathering through what He has provided in our life. But it’s not just spiritual food that we share, we grow together when we join in sharing fellowship around meals that sustain us physically as well that which strengthens the connectedness of the body.
Adjust — John 21:15-19
- We don’t like to admit it, but we’re not always right. In fact, the only one who is always right is God. Sometimes it is the recognition of how we have failed ourselves, others, and/or God that causes a brokenness . . . at least in our mind. The disciples, and perhaps especially Peter, needed a place to adjust before they would be open vessels suitable for God’s work of changing the world. God’s desire is that we would live in fellowship with one another in such a way that we remind others, and are reminded our self, of the great task which is ours through Jesus Christ. Loving God and living a resurrected life isn’t as much about being right as it is about taking care of people. When we allow God to administer an attitude adjustment in our life, we find a place to gather where we willingly adjust our attitudes and actions to serve others according to their need.
Love — John 21:20-25
- I don’t know too many people that like to be singled out in ways that make their brokenness apparent or their task seem unfair in comparison to others . . . in fact, I don’t know anyone that likes that! Peter’s response to Jesus revealing the hardships he would face was the age-old deflection of “What about him?”. It is in this context that John reveals himself to be the one he refers to as “the disciple whom Jesus loves”. God’s Word tells us that “love covers a multitude of sin”. When we gather as those resurrected by the power of Jesus Christ, we should find ourselves in a place of love . . . not that we’re so good at it, but because we have experienced being the disciple that Jesus loves.
Today, how will you make the times you gather with others be a place to HEAL?