Summary: Jesus is with us, even at rock bottom.
"Surprised By Love"
Perhaps you read the following in the Upper Room Devotional last Wednesday:
"I hit the road with everything I owned packed inside my small car even though the idea of leaving my apartment, job, school, friends, and my comfortable life of sin had paralyzed me.
The drive home seemed like a lifetime; I dreaded returning to face my mom.
Fearful thoughts also filled my mind.
'How could God ever forgive my poor choices?
How could I cope without my destructive, self-made support system?'
All I could do was muster up a tiny seed of hope that my life was not over.
When I entered my mother's house, I found my bedroom decorated with a bright new bed cover and cheery new curtains.
My mom came in and sat down beside me.
She was all hugs and smiles, ecstatic that her baby girl was home.
I didn't realize it at the time, but God used the simple act of my mom sprucing up the bedroom to show me a glimpse of love and grace.
And little did I know that the next few years would be filled with new friends, a college degree, a wedding, and opportunities to mentor teenagers.
Looking back to that long drive home I never would have guessed that God would be so lavish in pouring out love on me, especially knowing it was nothing I deserved or earned.
Knowing this, we can muster up a tiny seed of hope today that life is not over.
With God, it is just beginning."
The disciples had left their dreary lives in order to follow Jesus on the most exciting three-year-journey anyone could ever imagine.
Some of them, if not all of them, were convinced that Jesus was going to be the Messiah who would rid Israel of its enemies and take His rightful seat on a kingly throne.
They of course, would be the "knights of His round table" so to speak.
They may have gotten into the groove of feeling pretty good about themselves.
After-all, over time Jesus garnered hundreds if not thousands of followers.
He was a BIG time Star.
And they were the ones closest to Him.
They were His hand-picked crew.
Certainly, when Jesus came into His Kingdom, there would be special seats of honor, power and privilege for them as well.
And then the night Jesus was arrested, everything--all their hopes and dreams--everything they were counting on--not least their own bravery and worthiness came crashing to the ground.
Judas betrayed Jesus.
Most of the rest of them fled in fear.
And Peter, Peter--whose profession of Who Jesus was...was the Rock on Which Jesus would build His Church--had denied even knowing Him--not just once but three times.
And then, after all this, Jesus rose from the dead.
And when He found them, His gallant band of men were shaking in fear, locked behind closed doors.
Certainly, there was no place for them in His Kingdom after-all.
They had failed the test.
They had blown it completely.
They must have felt like complete idiots--clowns.
And now what are they gonna do?
They no longer have jobs...
They aren't gonna be the King's men...
Jesus wouldn't be able to trust them to clean toilets let alone lead a revolution.
...they might even be worse off than they were before they met Jesus.
Jesus could never forgive them for abandoning Him in His hour of need.
Jesus could never forgive Peter for denying Him.
How could they cope?
And this is where we find them today.
They are at the Sea of Tiberius.
They are depressed.
They have hit rock bottom.
They are nobodies...although they once thought they were stars.
So, Peter just kind of mumbles something about going fishing, and they go with him.
To add insult to injury...
...they weren't even good at what they used to be experts at--catching fish!!!
They fished all night and didn't catch a thing!!!
How would you feel if you were them?
What would it be like to be in their shoes at that moment of darkness?
Did they feel helpless...
...used or used up...
I bet they did.
I remember a time when I hit rock bottom in my life.
I had never been so low.
And then I had a striking experience.
It's an experience I will never forget and it's an experience that saved my life.
I was at Rock Bottom, but somehow I sensed...
...somehow I knew that Jesus was there with me.
And so I remember calling up a friend who had been worried about me, and I said to him--between tears-- "Buddy, rock bottom isn't so bad after-all--it's actually not bad at all because Jesus is here!!!"
The disciples had hit their lowest point.
The dark night was over, dawn was on the horizon...