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A Work in Progress: Walking with Jesus

Fishing Expedition

on April 5, 2013

 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you 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!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

John 21: 4-7, NIV

I love this story about the risen Jesus and his rather confused and overwhelmed disciples. What an emotional rollercoaster they had been on over the past few days, especially Peter. They had witnessed one of their close friends, Judas, betray Jesus to the authorities. They had seen their beloved Master die a gruesome death. Despite previously claiming that he was ready to die for Jesus, when it came to the crunch Peter had denied three times even knowing him.

The disciples’ abject despair and terror had then been turned on its head when the raised-from-the-dead Jesus showed himself to them on several occasions. Gradually they were starting to realised exactly who Jesus was, and the enormity of what had just happened was beginning to sink in. The disciple Thomas, when he finally saw Jesus with his own eyes, declared

“My Lord and my God!”

John 20:28, NIV

It must still have been an incredibly strange and difficult time for them. Their world had been completely turned upside down. So little surprise that with everything else around them being uncertain, they resorted to a comforting, familiar activity- they went fishing.

At first, they didn’t recognise Jesus. They listened to him though, and obeyed him, which had amazing results, straight away. This caused John (the disciple Jesus loved) to realise who it was, and he immediately shared this revelation with his friends. Never one to do things by halves, Peter then responded in typical exuberant fashion and jumped into the water.

Like the disciples, we may not always recognise the presence of Jesus. The Bible tells us, though, that we will recognise his voice:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27, NIV

For our actions to bear fruit, like the disciples we need to respond to that prompting voice in obedience. If we ignore it, or say ‘not yet’, or make excuses as to why we’re not acting on it, then the moment may pass. If the disciples hadn’t obeyed Jesus immediately, their amazing catch may well never have happened- the fish would have moved on!

I think we can learn a lot from John’s actions here, too. He realises who it is standing on the shore of the lake, and shares this knowledge with Peter straight away. He doesn’t keep it to himself, or worry that he might be wrong. That really challenges me. It’s not enough to gain more and more knowledge about God for ourselves. With new insights and deeper understanding come a responsibility not only to allow our lives to be shaped and changed according to God’s word but to share what we know with others. The good news about the risen Jesus was never supposed to be a secret!

Finally, as so often when reading the gospels, I find myself encouraged by Peter. He let Jesus down badly, and the knowledge of that must have weighed heavily on him. But he knows and understands what it means to be forgiven. He doesn’t slink towards Jesus, head down, guilt-ridden and grovelling. He rushes towards the Lord he loves, confident in the knowledge that the love of Jesus is enough to wash away all of our wrongdoings, past, present or future.

I am so thankful that we have a Lord and Saviour who doesn’t hold our past mistakes against us, but who loves us just as we are. I pray that I may be more like Peter, passionate about Jesus, being ready to be used by him, knowing that I’m bound to mess up somewhere along the way, but safe in the knowledge that this will not change the way my Lord feels about me.

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