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Lesson 4: How Jesus Forgave *

Introduction: This past week I went to a wonderful Easter play at a local Assemblies Church. The production was what you would expect from a professional company - really first class. The quality of the play allowed me to imagine being present during Jesus' life and crucifixion. It gave me better insights into those events. Not only did the final scenes break my heart, but they impressed me again with the incomprehensible nature of Jesus' forgiving spirit. The crucifixion, like nothing else, shows the depth of the evil of Satan, the importance of God's law and the incredible love and forgiveness that God extended to us. Let's get into our study this week and focus on how Jesus treated sinful Peter!

  1. Peter - Unworthy I

    1. Read Luke 5:1-3. Why would Jesus want to get into a boat? (He was pressed by the crowd, and He wanted them all to be able to see Him and hear His teaching.)

      1. Was Simon (Peter) part of the crowd who came to hear Jesus? (It does not appear that he was. He was washing his nets.)

      2. Put yourself in Peter's place. What would your initial reaction be to the crowd heading your way? (I see annoyance. You are trying to get some work done, trying to wash and dry your nets, and a crowd comes tramping through.)

      3. Does it seem that at this point Peter is a disciple? (No. Verse 2 tells us that "fishermen" left some boats on the shore. One boat belonged to Peter. Matthew 4:18-20 and Mark 1:16-18 have an abbreviated account of Jesus' call to Peter. However, this seems to be the initial contact.)

      4. Now, the cause of the crowd asks to borrow your boat and you. You are Peter, what is your reaction? (Washing nets is boring. My feeling is that Peter had heard of Jesus and his initial annoyance with the crowd heading his way is now replaced by curiosity about Jesus. He probably likes being in the spotlight.)

    2. Read Luke 5:4-5. Tell me why Jesus told Peter to go fishing again - after Peter had fished all night? (I see several reasons. Jesus borrowed his boat. He is paying Peter back. Peter is a fisherman, Jesus is not. Jesus' approach to Peter is on Peter's own business terms. Finally, Jesus had in mind proving to Peter that He is no ordinary teacher.)

      1. Why did Peter do what Jesus asked?

      1. What would be going through your mind if you were Peter? (An odd thing I have observed in life is that people will credit the statements of someone who is well-educated, but who speaks outside of his area of education. For example, a medical doctor who opines on politics. What does he know about politics? No more than anyone else. Peter could have logically said to himself, "I'm the fisherman here, what does this guy know about fishing? We just finished washing our nets. Why would I want to go out so I will have to wash my nets again?" Something about Jesus as an authority caused Peter to do as Jesus asked.)

    1. Read Luke 5:6-8. Turns out that Jesus was right. Why would Peter say, "Go away from me?" Why not say, "How would you like to go fishing with me every day?"

      1. Why would Peter start talking about his sins? (Peter knew this was a miracle and not a smart fishing tip. Since this was a miracle, Peter knew he was in the presence of someone who had a special relationship with God. Hence, Peter's statement about being unworthy to be near Jesus.)

        1. Was Peter right? Was he unworthy to be by Jesus?

    2. Read Luke 5:9-11. Did Peter say he was afraid of Jesus?

      1. If you were in Jesus' sandals, and Peter just got through kneeling and saying, "Go away from me, I'm sinful," what would you have logically said to Peter?

        1. "You don't need to kneel?"

        2. "Your sins are forgiven?" (Peter was really saying to Jesus, "I'm unworthy to be by you. Jesus responds, "You are not only worthy to be near, you are worthy to help Me in My work.")

          1. What does this say about Jesus forgiveness of sins? His approach towards sinners?

        3. How could Peter be worthy of helping Jesus? (Worthiness was not a question of Peter's station in life (which was low), but rather his acknowledgment of sin.)

          1. Did Peter actually repent of his sins? (Remember we learned last week that repentance means to "change your mind," change your attitude. Verse 11 tells us that they left everything (including the big catch) and followed Jesus. Clearly an attitude change.)

  1. Peter - Unworthy II

    1. Read John 21:1-3. Let's stop a moment and place this in time. The fishing story we just finished was when Peter was first called to become a disciple of Jesus. This new story takes place after Peter denied Jesus at his trial (see Luke 22:31-34, 54-62), after Jesus was crucified, and after Jesus rose to life again. How was the fishing now? (Lousy)

    2. Read John 21:4-6. Why would Peter take this stranger's advice about fishing? (I'm beginning to believe that Peter would take fishing advice from anyone. It must have been an easy thing to throw the net on the other side, so they did it to humor this stranger.)

    3. Read John 21:7-8. Why did John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) recognize Jesus? (Something clicked in John's mind. John had been at the first fishing miracle ( Luke 5:9-10) and this sure seemed similar.)

      1. When John announced Jesus was on the shore, what was Peter's reaction? (He put his clothes on and jumped into the water to go to Jesus.)

      2. Why did Peter react the way he did? Remember he has denied Jesus, denied he even knew Jesus, right after boasting to Jesus that he was willing to die with Him or go to prison with Him. Why didn't Peter say, "Go away, I'm a sinful man?" Instead, he came swimming to Jesus. (This shows how Peter's attitude had changed over the years he had spent with Jesus. Peter realized that despite his terrible denial, Jesus still loved him and had unconditionally forgiven him.)

    4. Read John 21:15-17. Why did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Jesus MORE than the others? (In Matthew 26:33 we read that when Peter promised Jesus that he would never deny Jesus. He said "Even if all fall away ... I never will." Peter was really saying that he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Jesus is testing Peter's presumption, and Peter passes the test by simply saying ( John 21:15) "I love you" -- not, I love you more than the others love you.)

      1. Why does Jesus ask Peter this question three times? (In part because Peter denied Jesus three times.)

      2. Why did Jesus say to Peter three times to help take care of His flock [the believers]? (Jesus was publically restoring Peter to an important gospel position.)

        1. Do you feel that you have denied Jesus in the past through your actions or your words? What does this story of Peter teach you about Jesus' forgiveness?

  2. Jesus Ultimate Forgiveness

    1. Read Luke 23:32-37. How do you feel when people make fun of you and laugh at you? How do you feel when people do not show you respect? How do you feel when people deliberately hurt you?

      1. How do you react if you have done nothing to deserve this bad treatment?

      2. When these things happen to you (or, if just one of these things happens to you) and you have the power to stop it or take revenge, what do you do?

      3. In verse 34 Jesus says to forgive these people. Do we read that they have asked for forgiveness?

      4. Do you agree with Jesus that His tormentors did not know what they were doing? (They certainly knew they were torturing and mocking Jesus. However, if they had known this was God, then I feel certain they would not have done this.)

        1. Is it a satisfactory answer to say they did not know that Jesus was God, and therefore this should be forgiven? What changes if they knew Jesus was God? (What changes is that they would refrain from mocking because of fear, not because of principle. I have a hard time seeing a reason to forgive based on the fact they were bullies - willing to mock and torture someone who they thought could not take revenge.)

      5. Can you imagine yourself in Jesus' place and saying, without anyone asking you for forgiveness, "Father, forgive them?" (No. I am (you are) a million miles away from the incomprehensible love and mercy that Jesus showed to those bullies that hurt Him that day.)

    2. Friend, have you hurt Jesus? Have you denied Him? Have you turned away from Him? If Jesus was willing to forgive those who mocked, tortured and killed Him, then He is willing to forgive you of your sins!

  3. Next week: Forgiveness and Guilt.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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