Summary: After Christ died, Peter went back to what the used to do, fish. Are we ever tempted to return to the way we lived before Christ?
When I was in elementary school, my best friend was Jon Barleycorn. From kindergarten through fifth grade, we were best friends, both in and out of school. And his family introduced me to fishing. I would go with them to Buckeye Lake and we would fish from his grandmothers’ dock and from his dads’ boat out on the big lake.
My family was not a fishing family. But I did have one amazing opportunity to go fishing with my dad. A gentleman my father did business with invited us to go deep sea fishing with him and his son in Florida. I was eleven at the time and I think his son was twelve. You can imagine the excitement, getting to fish way out in the ocean and hopefully catch something bigger than a Buckeye Lake catfish.
It was a chartered boat, so we had a captain and first mate who knew what they were doing. In fact they made their living taking people fishing. We got to spend three days fishing in the ocean and each day followed the same pattern. First we would fish for bait. (Picture 1) Then we would go farther out and set the lines and troll around waiting for fish. (Picture 2) When we had a fish on a line, the other son and I would rotate reeling them in. (Pictures 3&4) And then in the afternoons for the last two hours or so we would go to a ship wreck and fish for barracuda. (Pictures 5&6) That was the most action packed part of the day and they were fun to catch.
We packed a lunch each morning, and spent the day out on the ocean. We followed this pattern for three days. I want to show you this last picture because I think it captures the three days into one shot. (Picture 7) My dad is waiting patiently while I fish. I hadn’t realized it, but while we were fishing for barracuda on the last day it hit me. I said, “Dad, do you want to fish?” What an idea! Neither father had reeled in a single fish during those first 2 ¾ days. They just watched their sons have fun.
Out of the whole trip, that is the part of the story that is mentioned whenever it is told. The dads just waited and finally got to fish for the last hour or so on the last day.
I want to tell you another fishing story this morning. As you may know, some of the disciples were fisherman. The first time we hear about Peter in the book of Matthew, the story tells us he is fishing. Along with his brother they are throwing their net into the lake, and Jesus calls them to follow him and he will make them fishers of men. They drop their nets and follow Jesus. They leave behind the comfort of everything that they know and are familiar with to follow him.
Peter does what Jesus asked him to do, he follows. And he follows Jesus throughout his ministry here on earth. Scholars estimate it at around 3 ½ years that Jesus taught and healed, and Peter was with Him during that time. Peter was even one of the inner circle, one of the disciples that was closest to Jesus. He was the only one who walked out onto the water with Jesus. Peter was one of three disciples who witnessed the transfiguration.
But then things changed. In the 19th chapter of John we find the crucifixion and death of Christ. In the 20th chapter we have the empty tomb. Peter was one of the first to go inside and see the strips of linen and the burial clothe that had been around the body of Christ. But the disciples were still confused. Later in the same chapter of John, Jesus appears to his disciples. Peter is not mentioned by name, but Thomas is the only one who is said not to have been present the first time Jesus appeared. So we can assume that Peter was there. And he was there again a week later with Thomas and the rest of the disciples when Jesus appeared for the second time to the twelve.
Turn with me please to the 21st chapter of John. We will read together the first three verses and they will be on the screen as well.
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael 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.