Summary: After Jesus' death Peter and the other disciples went back to their fishing boats. Jesus reminds them of what they were called to do. let us not go backwards but rely on God and his promises - he has a purpose for each of us!
The Bible amazes me how you can read a passage over and over and then one time you stumble over a new way of looking at it. In my case I was reading a book called ‘Searching for God knows What’ by Donald Miller when he linked these two passages:
Matthew 4 vs. 18-20, which says:
As Jesus was walking beside the sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting their net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come follow me’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’. At once they left their nets and followed him’.
And the second passage which is John 21 vs. 1-6, which say
Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathaneal from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said ’We’ll go with you’. So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise it was Jesus. He called out to them ’Friends, haven’t you caught any fish’? ’No’, they answered. He said ’Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some’. When they did, they were unable to haul; the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’
In his book, Donald Miller writes
‘my friend David Gentiles observes… that Peter had spent the last three years travelling with Christ, watching miracles be performed, listening to Jesus’ proclamations about his Godhead and noting the many prophecies that were being fulfilled daily and yet after all of this is back where Jesus found him: fishing’.
I think it’s human nature, when we just cant see the way ahead, and what or who we’re meant to be following isn’t in view.
From what Donald Miller wrote, and from thinking through the passage in John I picked out a few things that struck me.
1) Jesus will fulfil the promises he made when he first called us. Peter was called to be a fisher of men and we know from what’s recorded in Acts and so on that Peter was used to bring people to faith in Christ. As early as Acts Chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, Peter spoke to a great crowd and about 3,000 were added to their number that day; and of course, this was just the beginning of Peter’s ministry. It’s also worth noting that in verse 19 of John 21, Jesus says to Peter ‘follow me’, just as he had said when he first called him, letting Peter know that he is trustworthy and that he would fulfil the promise he made to Peter 3 years earlier. Maybe God has called you to something that you are yet to see bear fruit. Jesus is asking that we follow him today, as we chose to do when we first believed in him.
2) Jesus is patient with us. He meets us where we are, whether we feel that we are moving onwards or not; he still calls to us, he is still ready to meet us. Jesus is loving and patient; he comes alongside us. Whether by his Word, the Bible; by teaching, by the encouragement of meeting together as his people, whether by feeling his presence, or the beauty of a flower, he is always communicating with us and asking us to communicate with him. Jesus could so easily have been annoyed with Peter and the other men in the boat for going back to their old way of life.
I work for a HA, dealing with Tenants who cause ASB. And there are generally two ways we deal with them: one is enforcement official reprimands, or court action, in extreme cases evicting people.
The other way is supporting them to change how they behave, coming alongside them and encouraging them to behave, showing them and helping them to find a better way of living. And the feeling of seeing someone changing their behaviour, and enjoying not being in trouble, of valuing themselves and seeing what they can achieve is far more satisfying and rewarding than having to take action against them.
And so we see in this passage, Jesus, rather than rebuking the men he pours out his love, meeting them where they are, helping them in their current situation, and providing for them. He was showing them that he can meet their needs.
3) Now that we are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps let us not return to things of the world - let us not think that our way is a better way. But let’s use the teachings we’ve received to follow Jesus.