Summary: The Christian life is a long walk with Jesus in the right direction.

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Title: Tracking with Jesus

Text: John 21:1-19

Thesis: The Christian life is a long walk with Jesus in the right direction, i.e., staying on track.

The Season of Easter Series: When Jesus Shows Up

During the Season of Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ as he shows up in unusual and unexpected ways.

Two weeks ago we saw how Jesus understood the need for his followers to see him… seeing is believing! In seeing Jesus, Thomas’ doubts were allayed.

Last week we saw how Jesus walked with two of his followers. Just as Jesus accompanied them on their journey, Jesus accompanies us on our journeys as well. The Christian life is going the distance with Jesus as a companion. Eugene Petersen’s book title describes the Christian life as “a long obedience” or an arduous trek with Christ.

This week we see how Jesus knew he needed to encourage his followers to stay the course, so to speak. The Christian life is more than “a long obedience” or simply going the distance, it is also going the distance with Jesus – “in the right direction.” By that I mean, staying on track.


When I was in high school our house was near the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. So I have fond memories of trains rumbling through our little town. The train track divided Ogden into a north side and a south side. The major streets in our town crossed the track so the engineers tended to lay on the whistle all the way through town so it was noisy. But long before you could hear the throbbing diesel engines and the rumble of the cars, you could feel it. There was a picture on my bedroom wall that would begin to vibrate long before the train reached the city limits.

Just outside of town is a famous railroad bridge called the Kate Shelley Bridge. Today a new, modern, concrete bridge runs alongside the old steel bridge which was named in honor of a fifteen year old girl named Kate Shelley. The bridge is one of the longest and highest double tracked railroad bridges in the United States. It is a magnificent structure spanning the entire Des Moines River valley.

On July 6, 1881 there was a terrible thunderstorm and the creeks flooded and the river rose and the railroad track and some of bridges were in danger of washing out. In fact the Honey Creek Bridge collapsed plunging a pusher train and its four man crew into Honey Creek.

The Shelley’s lived nearby. Mrs. Shelley was a railroad widow and she and her five children lived next to the track. They heard the crash when the pusher train plunged into Honey Creek. Fifteen year old Kate, knowing that the bridge was out, knew that the Midnight Express would soon pass through so she crawled across the trestle bridge over the flooding Des Moines River to reach the Moingona Station where the station agent then stood out on the track in the rain waving his red lantern to stop the Midnight Express . In honor of her heroism they named the bridge The Kate Shelley High Bridge.

There is a virtual trainload trove of train wreck information online. Simply Google “Train Wrecks” and you can occupy yourself for hours sifting through the wreckage.

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