When We Meet Jesus!

John 1:11-12

The differences among people are not so much in their abilities as an their commitments.
I truly believe that until a person commits his or her life to Christ that person can never achieve
his or her highest potential.
Apart from Christian discipleship, we can never become what we have in us to be.
The truth of this can be clearly seen in the lives and experiences of Simon Peter;
the first of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.

Peter was an ordinary fisherman on the Sea of Galilee until he met Jesus.
When he started to follow Jesus Christ, his whole life began to change.

When Jesus first met Simon Peter He said, "I know you; your name is Simon.
But from now your name will be Peter
." (John 1:42)
The name, "Peter," is an Aramaic word which means "stone" or "rock."

Jesus was saying, "From now on we are going to call you, Rocky.
You will be a rock-like man
."
The new name was a prophetic statement of what God's grace would make out of this weak,
vacillating, impetuous man.
It was a forecast of his new character.

This is where God always begins His work in our lives.
Before He does a work through us, He always does a work in us.
Service flows from character.
Character is the real measure of achievement in life.
The true measure of success is not what we have or what we do, but what we are.

The statement of Jesus about Peter must've been a surprise to everyone who heard it,
and who knew Simon.
He was anything but a rock-like man.
He was more like shifting sand.
He was unstable, unpredictable, and fickle.
His moods changed as quickly as the wind on the Sea of Galilee where he fished for a living.
At one moment, the sea could be a dead calm.
The next moment it could be whirling and turbulent.

If you had asked people about Peter, they probably would have said, "Oh, yes, I know Simon.
He's a good man, but he's not a leader
."

But Jesus does not look at us as other people do.
He sees not only what we are; He also sees what we can become.
He views not only the actualities, but also the possibilities.

Jesus looked at Simon, and saw in him the possibilities of his becoming a strong,
predictable, steadfast man.
So Jesus gave Peter this new name which would be a constant reminder
of what the Lord expected him to become.
The confidence of Jesus must have gripped Simon Peter's soul, and must have been
a mighty force in his spiritual development.

Following Jesus was the turning point in Peter's life.
The day he began to follow Jesus, he started to become like a rock.
He was on the road to achieving his highest spiritual potential.

In the years to come, he would courageously stand up and proclaim the gospel on the day of Pentecost.
He would resist the threats and intimidations of the religious and political leaders.
He would spearhead the spread of the gospel among his own people.
And he would eventually give his life for the cause of Christ.

What a record of service!
But it all had its beginning when he committed himself to Jesus as his Lord.
From that day forward, his life took on a new direction, a new destiny, and a new dimension.
Under this new loyalty to Jesus, all things were made new.

Today, Jesus challenges us as he did Peter, "Give your life to me, and I will make you
what you have in you to be
."
We do not have to stay the way we are.
We can move on to greater spiritual heights if we will follow Jesus.
He will enable us to reach our full potential.

How Jesus Sees Us.

How can our commitment to Jesus Christ bring us to our highest level of achievement?
It is because of His omniscience.
His first words to Peter showed that He already knew everything about the future apostle.

The word, "beheld," which Jesus uses to describe the way that He looked on Peter
suggests an intense and concentrated gaze.
It is the kind of look that sees beyond the surface of life, and reads what's inside a person's heart.
When Jesus first looked at Simon, he saw his innermost being, and perceived not only what he was,
but what he could become.

Only Jesus has the perception to see our possibilities.
That is why Jesus Christ can propel us to our highest potential.
He sees the hidden potential within us.
He sees what others overlook, and what even we cannot see in ourselves.

George Washington Carver was one of America's greatest scientists.
Among his many achievements, he discovered over 300 different uses for the peanut.
Born in slavery, he was weak and sickly.
Traders of the slave market saw little value in him, and traded him back to his master for a race horse.

Jerome Hines, the great opera singer, was kicked out of the junior high school glee club
because the instructor said that he could not carry a tune.

Thomas Edison was a giant among us.
He patented over 1,093 inventions, including the phonograph, the microphone, the incandescent light bulb,
the mimeograph machine, the medical fluoroscope scope, the nickel alkali battery, and moving pictures.
Yet, when he was seven years old, his school teacher gave him up as a hopeless case.
He heard her tell the principal that he was "addled," and that it was useless for him to attend school any longer.

Winston Churchill, the great Prime Minister of England, was often called, "the man of the century."
His talents as a soldier, statesman, orator, and world leader almost defy belief.
No other man was more instrumental in preserving our democratic way of life than he
because of his leadership in those bleak, critical days of World War II.

However, as Churchill was growing up, people called him a troublesome boy.
He was redheaded, freckle faced and had a snub nose.
He had an impediment of speech -- a combination of stammer and lisp.
Yet, he was uncommonly self-assured, obstinate, and arrogant.

He hated school, and was constantly in trouble with his teachers.
At the age of 12, he was sent to Harrow.
There he was considered their worst pupil.
In 4 and 1/2 years, he never rose above the bottom of his class.

A contemporary remarked, "That lad couldn't have gone through Harrow, he must've gone under it."
No one, not even his own parents knew what was inside that boy.
All they could see was an obviously untalented young man who had no prospect
of going to Oxford, and never being good enough to become a lawyer.

Albert Einstein was the most eminent scientist of our age.
He was a genius whose ideals reshaped modern scientific thinking.
He described relativity and heralded the atomic age.
It was largely through his involvement in the "Manhattan Project" that the atomic bomb was developed.

More than anyone else, he made space exploration possible.
He also gave impetus to a host of today's electronic gadgetry such as the electronic eye and television.

Yet in his earlier years, Einstein showed no obvious signs of genius.
He did not begin talking until the age of three.
In high school he bristled at the inflexible system of note learning and the drill-sergeant manner of his teachers.
One of his teachers said, "He will never amount to anything."

At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school.
Later his family moved to Switzerland, and he decided to enroll in the famed Swiss Federal Institute
of Technology in Zurich.
But he failed the entrance exam.

He went back to high school for an additional year of study, and was then admitted to the Institute.
Still, Einstein's rebellion continued.
He cut lectures, read what he please, tinkered in the school labs, and incurred the wrath of his teachers.

One of them, a mathematician, Hermann Minkowski, even called him a "lazy dog."
Another unnamed professor called him "Dumbkoff" -- "dumb head."
Having antagonized his professors, Einstein failed to obtain a university teaching position.
He eked out a living by doing calculations for an astronomer, tutoring, and substituting as a teacher.

The truth of the matter is that we cannot know what possibilities there are in a person.
But the Lord knows.
And it is because of His omniscience and perception that He is able to spur us on to our maximum potential.

How Jesus Handles Us.

Because Jesus knows what we can become, He shows an amazing patience,
in helping us to grow into it.
Peter did not become a rock overnight.
No one does!

We must beware of shortcuts to character.
Thank God for instantaneous salvation, but be wary of instantaneous holiness.
It is most often the result of a long and painful process.

We need an emphasis on that grueling process today.
We have too many "celebrities," and not enough "servants."
We have "90-day wonders", that flash across the scene of time, and then disappear.

Before God works through a person, He works in a person because the work we do
is an outgrowth of the lives we live.
Service flows from character, and that takes time.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing for three years of ministry, and we expect instant results.

God prepares us for what He is preparing for us.

The Lord had to knock a lot of nonsense out of Peter.
Following him through the next years, we discover him in one instance saying that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of the living God, and in the next breath, trying to turn Jesus away from His God-appointed mission
of dying for the sins of the world.

In one moment, he has enough faith to walk on water.
In the next moment, his fears and doubts cause him to sink.
At the Last Supper he boasts of his loyalty to Christ, and before the night is over
he denies his Master three times.

Throughout the slow, painful process, Jesus never loses patience with Peter.
Even though Jesus knew all along that Peter will eventually fail Him,
He also knows that Peter will recover and become the useful servant.

Once someone came to Michelangelo while he was chipping away with his chisel
on a huge, shapeless piece of rock.
The man asked the sculptor what he was doing.
He answered, "I am releasing the angel that he is imprisoned in this marble."

Jesus is the Master Sculptor who sees the hidden potential within us, and patiently chips away
those flaws that hinder us from achieving our highest and best.
And if we will keep following Jesus, He will gradually change us into what we ought to be.

How Jesus Changes Us.

Some people will say, "But you cannot change human nature."
That's right!
We can't, but Christ can!

No person's character is so deeply rooted in evil or enslaved by habit that Christ cannot change it.
John declares that Jesus, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God
." (John 1:11-12)

Power to become – that is what we need.
And only Jesus can supply it.
Without His life-changing power our character would be hopelessly set.
Jesus sees our potential and works patiently with us, and He also gives us the power
to become all that God wants us to be.

The apostle Paul, who himself was an example of this life, transforming power, said,
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

You may have tried a thousand times to change on your own, only to fail dismally in every instance.
And you will keep on failing until you have the strength of Christ in you.
When Christ comes into your life, He enables you to become all that He wants you to be
and all that you are capable of being.
You can reach your highest potential when Christ is pouring His power into you.

Just as surely as Christ changed Simon Peter into a rock,
He can also change you and me.
The key is commitment!

Begin to follow Christ with all your heart now – and it will be the beginning of a new life for you.
Our prayer must be, "O dear Lord, change me…"

"When Paul met the Lord on Damascus road he never was the same again
And when Peter met the Lord he left his boat and started fishin' for men
Now I may not be Peter or Paul, but one thing I can truly say
That's when I met the Lord and made Him my choice; He definitely made a change

Now I saw some old friends shakin' their heads 'cuz they never thought they'd see the day
When a sinner like me would praise the Lord or bow my head to pray.
I'm not what I used to be you see my life has been rearranged;
Well it's nothing' that I've done but I have found someone --
He definitely made a change in me!

He made a change in the way that I'm walking
He made a change in the way that I'm talking.
Old things passed away, behold everything's new
He made a change in the life that I'm living -- born again set free -- finally forgiven
If He can make a change in me: He can make a change in you."
-- Ernie Haase and Joel Lindsey

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L.. White