(Email viewers, click here for video introduction to today’s blog post.)
Hope you watched the video introduction to today’s message. For the next few weeks we’ll be taking advice from some guys who enrolled themselves in God’s school of hard knocks. I hate when that’s the only way I seem to learn valuable lessons. What about you? Ever had a hard time focusing on what’s important? What about forgetting to dance with the one who “brung” you? Or maybe, you’ve overstepped your authority to speed things up a bit. Perhaps, you’ve been the one who didn’t like being told what to do. And then there are those who point long, holy fingers at others while in desperate need of a good manicure. Oh, we’ve got much to talk about for the next few weeks, so let’s get going.
Jesus was alive! He had visited with as many as five hundred disciples and talked intimately with the apostles. Thomas had even placed his fingers in the wounds to confirm the resurrection fact. Matthew tells us that Jesus instructed the eleven to go to the mountain in Galilee, but John interjects a moment that lingered in his mind long enough to write about it years after Jesus ascended into the heavens. He paints his dear friend Peter in the foreground of the scene in John 21. I suspect John held this account dear to his heart because it demonstrates the dramatic change in Peter’s heart – a change that would brand him leader of the church.
Peter, John, and five other disciples had made it to the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had told them to go to the mountain. Perhaps they were on their way, but the lure of the sea coerces any fisherman, and that’s exactly what most of them were. Fishers of fish, not yet full fledged fishers of men. They were back among the familiar. The boats. The nets. The oars. The sails. Yes, this was home. Peter announced, “I’m going fishing!”
Seven weary men leaving the cares of crowds, suspicion, threats, trials, and crucifixion behind; they were doing what they knew how to do. If there was one thing on this earth they felt confident doing, this was it.
Night passed with not a single fish. Had they lost their touch? Had the time away with Jesus dulled their skills? Then came the voice, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. The “stranger” offered instructions , “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”
Far too many fish forced them to tow their net behind the boat. John recognized the miracle and exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” John was swift in recognizing the hand of Jesus, but impetuous Peter acted quickly. Repeating a similar scene, Peter jumped into the water and headed for Jesus as the others rowed. Jesus knew their fatigue, and had the breakfast fish cooking. “Bring some of the fish you just caught,” he told the hungry bunch. It would be their fish added to His that would complete the meal. (Peter again jumped into action, dragging the heavy net ashore. Do you think he had to prove himself to Jesus by outdoing the others? Just asking.) Jesus’ favorite food seemed to be on the menu. Had He conjured up another meal of fish and bread? Ah yes, every bite surely brought back another miracle meal memory.
Jesus knew their loss of focus, and presented them with an object lesson. They hadn’t made it to the mountain. They had lost sight of Jesus. Their focus was on the work of their own hands. Their success depended on their own power. However! With the arrival of the Resurrected One their needs were met exceedingly, abundantly, more than they could have ever imagined.
Not only did Jesus meet their physical needs, but he also he took enough time with Peter to remove the shame and guilt of denying Jesus three times. He began by calling him Simon, his given name, as a signal there was instruction on the way. Two times Jesus asked, “Simon, do you (agape) love me?” Agape love described a totally committed kind of love. Both times Peter answered, “You know that I (phileo) love you.” This love denotes affection. Finally, the third time Jesus follows suit and asks, “Simon, do you (phileo) love me?” Peter gets the subtle difference in the question and changes his response from “You know I love you” to “You know all things; you know that I love you.” Peter knew Jesus was the only one who could possibly know his most intimate needs and also possess the power to meet them all.
Jesus wanted Peter to feed, tend, and shepherd His sheep, but before Jesus ever asked anything of Peter, Jesus fed, tended, and shepherded him. Peter could not love other believers the way Jesus had until he knew without a doubt that he had been forgiven and Jesus loved him.
Are you forgiven? Do you know how much Jesus loves you? If you keep your eyes on the hood ornaments in your life you’ll run all over the sheep God puts in your path. (Go back and watch the video if you don’t get that.) Fix your eyes on Jesus, and you’ll begin to see others through His eyes.
The church is in the boat. Jesus’ voice is ringing across the water. How many like John will recognize Him? How many like Peter will brave the waves to get to Him? Fix your eyes on Jesus. Resurrection’s coming!