Summary: Peter’s restoration by Jesus
We come this morning to our final sermon in our series on Simon Peter. I hope you have found them of benefit to you spiritually.
Peter has denied Christ Jesus in the courtyard of the High Priest. Jesus has been crucified and has risen from the dead. He has appeared to the disciples and instructed them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon them. John takes up the story in verse 1 of chapter 21. Simon has announced (verse 3) that he is going out to fish and the other disciples follow after him. They fish all night but without success. Simon is always one for activity isn’t he? He is never content to sit and wait. The Lord had told them to wait and it would appear that Simon decides to make some profitable use of the time. I don’t know if Simon was being disobedient or whether it was a case of going back to the familiar. Maybe, just maybe Simon decided to go back to where it all began for him – the call to follow at Lake Galilee. Here he is again back where it had all begun. It had begun with a miraculous catch of fish after a fruitless night and that was to repeated here again. Maybe there is a lesson there for us all. After we have fallen and denied our Lord the place to go is back to where it all began, back to where He first called us to follow Him. Certainly for Simon and the other disciples Lake Galilee and the surrounding area was full of memories of times spent with Christ. I think I would err on the side of going back to the familiar – there is a sense of security in this for them, especially at this confusing time.
Whatever the reason here they are once again toiling all night to no avail. Then just as they are heading in to the shore a voice calls out to them asking how it had gone. They reply they had caught nothing all night. Here again we will see the provision of the Lord for His disciples. It was no accident that they had toiled all night and caught nothing. A hard nights toil and empty nets brought them to a place where they were ready to listen to the instructions of the Lord concerning casting their net one more time. They needed empty nets to respond positively to the instruction to cast their net over the right side of the boat. They needed again to learn the lesson of total dependence on Christ for their needs – both physical and spiritual. He then instructs them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat and immediately the net bulges (v4-6). Immediately John recognises that it is the Lord Jesus. He is quick to recall the miraculous catch when they were first called and here again it can only be the Lord. He recognises Jesus by His Word and by the fact that it brought about the miracle of the catch. It is as Jesus had said in John 10 ‘my sheep hear my voice and know my voice and obey my voice.’ He tells Peter (v7) and Peter is quick to act. Peter wraps his outer garment around him and climbs out over the side of the boat and swims to Christ..
Again I think there is a simple lesson for us all there. Stop and think for a moment who this is that climbs over the side of the boat and swims to Christ. This is Simon Peter whose last conversation in the presence of Christ was to deny Him three times. Peter cannot wait for the boat to reach the shore – he is out of the boat racing to Christ. Why? Wouldn’t the natural reaction been to hide behind the other disciples in the boat? After all he had denied Jesus. He had promised to die for Him but had ended up denying Him. But friends does this not show you two things?
Firstly the love that Peter had for Jesus and secondly, and more importantly, that the presence of Christ (even after you have failed Him), is irresistible. I think we should remember that when we fail. It wasn’t Peter’s love for Jesus hadn’t failed it was his faith (resting in his own strength) which had failed. This is important because in restoring Peter Jesus will ask not about his faith, nor his strength, nor how sorry he is for having denied Him – but about his love for Him. Don’t you find that yourself with Jesus? When you have failed Him He still loves you. When you have denied Him He still loves you. Maybe this morning that is actually what you need to hear more than anything else. He loves you this morning and what He wants to know of you this morning is ‘Do you love me?’