Summary: My Redeemer lives to bless me with his love and to help me in time of need.
Wasn’t last Sunday glorious? Yes, Easter really is the most glorious day known to mankind. But if that’s true, then what makes this Sunday? Is it not as glorious? Are Sundays after Easter like the day after the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup Final – a big let down, even if your team did win? It’s hard not to feel a bit down after Easter because we put in so much effort to get ready for it. We make special meals. We buy new outfits. We prepare joyful music. But then when it’s all over we fall back into the usual humdrum routine of life. But life is not the same. It cannot be the same after Easter. Last Sunday we sang with all our might: “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Today we’ll see that, yes, he really lives…to bless me with his love, and to help me in time of need. That fact makes this day, every day (even Mondays), glorious.
Jesus’ disciples too seemed to suffer from the post-Easter blues. Our text finds them in Galilee where Jesus told them to go. But once there, the Disciples were unsure of what to do since Jesus had yet to arrive. Never one to sit around, Peter announced that he was going fishing. Six other disciples, including John, said they would go along. So fishing they went. But if this activity was meant to cheer them up, it didn’t work, at least not initially for the Disciples fished all night and didn’t catch a thing. As they were pulling into shore, tired and defeated, someone called out to them through the early morning mist: “Lads, did you catch any fish?” (John 21:5) Great. Here was someone to rub in the fact that they had just wasted a good night’s sleep chasing fish that proved to be elusive. When the Disciples admitted that they hadn’t caught a thing, the stranger had the gall to suggest they throw their net on right side of the boat. Now fisherman, professional fisherman at that, aren’t in the habit of taking suggestions from strangers. Yet there was something authoritative about this man. Perhaps it was how he said: “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will (not you might) find some [fish]” (John 21:6). And sure enough, no sooner had they thrown the net starboard did it fill with fish that they couldn’t even haul it aboard! At that John realized that the man was no stranger; it was Jesus! When he shared his observation with Peter, the impetuous disciple threw his cloak on and jumped into the water to swim ashore. The other disciples followed in the boat dragging the catch behind them (John 21:6-8).
There are a number of truths worth pondering here. One is that life, no matter how well we are prepared for it or hard we work on it, is fruitless without Jesus’ blessing. Look at the Disciples. They had done everything right to catch fish. They had the right equipment. They went at the right time. Some of them were even professional fisherman and knew what they were doing. And yet even after toiling all night they had nothing to show for their efforts. It was only when Jesus showed up and directed them that their efforts bore fruit.
In the same way, we can make plans. We can gather the right equipment. And we can work until we’re ready to collapse but unless the Lord blesses our efforts, our work is in vain. That’s important to remember in regard to our ministry efforts here and especially our building program don’t you think? Just because we go through all the steps necessary to get a church built doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It will happen only if Jesus blesses our efforts. That’s also true of your personal life. You may have a dream. Perhaps there is a career you want to pursue, and a certain age you want to be able to retire at and so you are doing your best to get good grades, win scholarships, and then to invest your money to make all these dreams happen. But again, unless Jesus offers his blessings, your best efforts aren’t worth squat in bringing your dream to fruition. That’s pretty humbling isn’t it?
So if everything depends on Jesus’ blessings, then why work so hard? If God wants a new church built here, for example, he’ll make it happen without our help, right? So let’s just forgo the building committee meetings and progress reports and sit back and wait for God to do his thing! It’s true that the Disciples caught fish only when Jesus spoke his blessing but they wouldn’t have “caught” Jesus’ blessing had they not been out fishing! So yes, God could drop a new church building out of the sky if he wanted to, but he normally doesn’t bless God’s people that way. He sends his blessings through their efforts. So we will work as if everything depends on us, all the while knowing and trusting that God must bless our efforts if they are to bear fruit. And God will bless us in his way and in his time. We can be certain of this because our Redeemer lives for that very purpose.